With the advances in technology, small businesses are now more than ever able to outsource numerous tasks that in the past would have had to be performed in house. This can mean a significant savings for some cash strapped businesses while other small operations will appreciate the ability to shift some less desirable tasks in order to concentrate on the more lucrative areas of their business, allowing them to grow faster.
Deciding when to outsource
The right time to outsource is going to be different for every business. Here are a couple of scenarios where outsourcing would be recommended:
· When your workload begins to near the threshold where it would warrant hiring a full time employee.
· When you reach the point where you can no longer maintain day to day activities AND grow the business.
For especially small businesses and solo operations, you may want to begin outsourcing things like bookkeeping right from the start. Even a part-time virtual assistant can help take the pressure off the small business owner by performing essential tasks that would normally take their focus off the main income-generating work.
Jobs that can easily be outsourced from the start are:
· Web designer
· Graphic designer
· Executive assistant
· Project manager
Deciding what to outsource
When it comes to figuring out which jobs and tasks can and should be outsourced, experts recommend first examining what your core competencies are. The jobs that should never be outsourced are those that relate most closely to your core focus.
For example, a small interior design business would not want to outsource anything related to their core offering – interior design. Because in doing so, the business would be watering down the strength and uniqueness of their main offering.
The best types of outsourcing opportunities should be those that don't relate directly to the main business such as IT support and payroll.
There are three general categories of tasks that lend themselves the best to outsourcing:
· Tasks that require specialized knowledge: IT support, accounting, etc.
· Tasks that are highly repetitive: Data entry, inventory, accounts payable.
· Tasks that are highly skilled: Financial analyst, legal consulting.
Hiring the right contractors
The best place to begin your search for help is within your network of contacts. You can ask for recommendations for good providers from people that you know and trust. Beyond that, you can visit one of the online marketplaces that offer the services of professional contractors, such as Upwork, where you can find contractors who can do everything from web design to accounting to copywriting. The advantage of using one of these marketplaces is the ability to see the feedback that other employers have left as well as detailed profiles and work portfolios.
When placing your job listing, it is important to communicate your needs clearly in order to be assured of attracting the contractors with the appropriate skillset and the experience to deliver the results you are looking for. That will make the hiring process go much more smoothly as vague job postings tend to attract a number of applicants who may or may not have the qualifications you need.
If you are the type of business owner who tends to do everything for yourself, outsourcing may make you uncomfortable at first. Understand that it may take some time to train your new contractor to perform certain tasks up to your expectations – this particularly applies to virtual assistants who may have to complete a number of different, unskilled or repetitive tasks. A good way to deal with this is to create thorough training materials, like screencasts of you completing the task yourself so your assistant can refer to them while they are learning the ropes.
Kelly Smith is an experienced writer working at CourseFinder. She combines her interest in new technologies and marketing with her love for writing.