As a cash-strapped small business, you are no doubt looking for ways to save money on your running costs while trying to stay ahead of your competition. Knowing how to structure your company and deciding which tasks that you do in-house and which you will outsource will have an enormous impact on how productive and profitable you are, but it is not an easy decision.
A little bit of extra knowledge and a close look at the activity that you are considering outsourcing can help you to make the right choice for your company, and in this article, we are going to give you some pointers.
Is it a routine activity?
Consider whether the task you are thinking about outsourcing is a routine one that takes up much of your valuable time and energy. Things like simple bookkeeping and payrolling, appointment organization and data management, generally tend to fall into this category, as they give no clear edge over your competitors and are not intrinsic to your business’ survival. You may want to hire a VA, or a data management service as named by the gartner mdm, to do these tasks on your behalf.
When you first start up your business, you may well be able to keep on top of these yourself, and sometimes, being in control of these routine activities can be reassuring. However, as your business grows from strength to strength, you will soon begin to notice that these tasks also increase, and become too large and complex for you to handle on your own. However, these tasks, while being slightly dull, are too vital not to get it right, and so deserve the full time and attention that they require.
Have a look at your budget and see if outsourcing these to someone who offers professional services, such as the ones named by gartner mdm are worth the time you save. If money is a little tight, it may be worth investigating software rather than a third party. Make sure you look around for something simple to use, so it does not take up too much of your time.
Does it give you an advantage over your competitors?
The really important tasks that you perform, the ones that either give you an advantage over your competitors or the ones that you use to strengthen the relationships with your customers should be done in-house as far as possible. The tasks that you should be outsourcing are the ones that will not make any difference to your market, such as IT support. That is, of course, unless you run an IT support company!
There are plenty of companies out there that can take care of both the routine tasks and the more specialized and skilled ones; hand over some of your work to these and keep an eye on how much it costs you.
Does it require specialized skills?
If you require a particular skill, it can sometimes be more expensive to train up an employee to master that task or hire one to work in-house than it is to simply to outsource the task to someone working on a freelance basis or for a third-party agency who already knows how. This is particularly relevant for small businesses with a limited budget -finding people with specialized skills is easier than it ever has been.
Because of the recent economic downturn and the loss of many jobs have forced many people to offer their skills and services on a freelance basis. While it may not be such good news for them, it is for you as you have the ability to take advantage of a large pool of skilled workers for a lot less money. It may be contacting a web designer to take another look at and refresh your website, using an expert copywriting service to create sellable and relevant content that is representable for your business, running a social media campaign – if these are the sort of tasks that you are not feeling entirely confident about, or don’t have an existing employee with the skillset to do this and make it look professional, hire a freelancer. Having a robust online presence is essential these days, and if you do not want to lag behind your competitors, you need to be as active on there and look as good as possible. If you are proficient with this yourself or have people in-house who already know how to do this well, you should do it within the company – it saves you money, after all. However, for the tasks you are not entirely sure about, outsource. You will not regret it.