Outsourcing: can it help you build a small business?

A comprehensive guide on the what, when and how to outsource for your small business…

When Joanna Briggs left her corporate job to launch her own business, she knew from the beginning that there were certain tasks she didn’t want to handle. As the owner of a firm that helps companies to economise their practices through outsourcing, Briggs practiced what she preached from day one, hiring key skills from outside. Within months, her business revenues reached six figures.

Outsourcing for small businesses

Most small business owners have great talents but many think they can do it all, and this can really stall the growth of the business. By outsourcing the day to day back-office tasks, the business owner has more time to focus on generating income.

Entrepreneurs have long seen outsourcing as a strategy reserved for big business, but technology has now made it more accessible for small businesses too. For some small companies, outsourcing has made a powerful impact on their growth, productivity and levels of profit.

More small businesses are outsourcing tasks because technology has advanced to the point of professionals being able to work from anywhere in the world with availability and accessibility. These tend to be extremely qualified professionals (who have decided to leave the corporate world) such as Marketing Directors, Virtual Assistants, Solicitors, Web Designers, Human Resources Consultants, Bookkeepers, PR Consultants, IT Specialists, and the list goes on. These freelancers come on board and save the small business owner the costs associated with payroll taxes and expenses such as health insurance, pensions etc. Not to mention office space limitation issues that growing a company faces.

It requires good decision making, but figuring out how to build your business with the help of outsourcing can offer increased efficiencies and economies of scale. Progressive entrepreneurs realise the power of outsourcing to handle functions of their business that are essential but non-core activities. Small businesses, augmented by a global pool of human resources, can compete directly with the biggest players in their space, and win.

When should you outsource non-core activities?

The correct time to outsource is different for each company. Some businesses have in-house staff to handle daily activities, but may need outside help to undertake new projects that don’t warrant another full-time employee. When you and your current employees are unable to manage the day-to-day business of your company and you have the desire to grow to the next stage, it may be time to consider outsourcing.

What should small businesses outsource?

It is likely that parts of your business are already outsourced, such as payroll administration or background / criminal checks for employment. As almost any task can be outsourced, and with so many qualified professionals leaving the corporate world to become self-employed, the possibilities are endless. However, these are the key business services we recommend you explore first:

  1. Information technology (IT) – technology enables small businesses to scale so outsourcing your IT requirement can not only save you money, but also give you the flexibility and agility needed to grow your small business.
  2. Accounts / Finance – payroll is the most commonly outsourced business service. Bookkeeping and accounting are also business critical services that are often more cost effective to outsource.
  3. Marketing – for most small businesses it is not financially feasible to recruit a marketing professional with the necessary expertise, let alone a whole team. Outsourcing to freelancers or an agency is more affordable, gives you access to a range of specialist skills and delivers better results.
  4. Logistics – handling fulfilment, warehousing and delivery internally results in people spending too much time managing stock and packaging, and not enough time spent on driving sales and growth. 3rd party providers can handle this for you.
  5. Customer support – ensuring your customers are happy, can use your products or services, and are getting value for money is vital. Hiring an internal customer support team is not always viable. However, outsourcing to a customer support desk, helpdesk or, in the case of technology companies, IT service desk is. They work to industry standards like ITIL and the Service Desk Institute accreditation scheme, ensuring your customers get the service and support they deserve.

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