Many entrepreneurs and small business owners feel that they need to be able to do everything, but with the internet and access to cheaper workforces, this is simply not the case.
Outsourcing a service can:
- Allow you to focus on the core functions of your business (those things at which you excel)
- Control operating costs
- Lower the initial investment of infrastructure
- Allow for easier risk management
- Overcome seasonal issues and a shortage of niche or specific talents
- Improve performance on an operational level.
The most common outsourced services we’re seeing today are: online marketing (specifically things like SEO, link-building and community management), online copywriting, PR, accounting, tax, cleaning and IT. In extreme cases, even admin is outsourced (as advocated in the 4-hour Work Week), but we are going to focus on the most common outsourced services for the purposes of this article.
Deciding on whether to outsource a service is the first major step, the next is to find a service that adds real value to your business, at a cost which is appropriate and which keeps the main aim – of saving money and time – as a focus.
These are 5 things you need to look out for, when deciding on which outsourced service to choose:
Ease of use
Outsourcing a service is saving you time and money, right? So don’t choose a service that is difficult to use or understand. Services you can access online, anytime and from anywhere make the most sense, and allow you to maintain some control over what’s being achieved.
The actual cost
Make sure that the price you are quoted for a service is all-inclusive (in other words, covers everything that you’re looking for). There’s nothing more annoying than being told: ‘That price was for the basic plan, but you went beyond that which is why the price is now double.’
Who is the person you deal with? Are they easy to get hold of, friendly and do they reply in 24-hours – or do you have to wait days for a response, only to have to deal with someone who has no people skills and doesn’t have the answers you need? The contact person should know who you are and be able to help you right away at least 90% of the time; they should have expertise relevant to the service you use them for.
As your business grows, can the outsourced service grow with you? Yes, at some point (if it makes business sense) you may want to hire a full-time member of staff to fulfill the function you have previously outsourced, but until that time, can the outsourced service provider manage the increased workload you may require from them?
Are they doing what they say they are doing?
The whole concept of having an outsourced service is to make your life easier, so that you can focus on growing your business – this means tasking the relevant provider with the things they need to do, and then trusting that they’ll do them in the time you need them done and, of course, to your stipulated budget.
If you have to keep following up, or checking up to make sure that tasks are getting done, it defeats the whole aim of outsourcing in the first place!
Outsourcing a business function is a relatively new idea, so some business owners struggle to wrap their heads around it – but to what cost to their company?
Do you outsource a business function? If you do, we’d love to hear from you.