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How to Ensure that Your Outsourced Service Adds Value – Not Admin

There are two major driving forces behind outsourcing a service – to save time or money; both resources are in short supply in a start-up or small business.

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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.

Related: How to Start a Quality Assurance Outsourcing Business

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.’

Contact person

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.

Scalability

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.

Related: The Surprising Tasks Your Competitors Are Outsourcing

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.

Alfalfa was birthed pretty painlessly in 2010, when an idea spent a few months with some money and hard work. From those early days of just 5 writers and 10 clients – to a recent drive which boosted our portfolio of writers from interns through to heavyweight specialists in almost any field of expertise, and new clients daily – we can honestly say that it’s been a crazy journey, with learning curves which resemble a right angle more than a gentle bend.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria

The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

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The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

The programme content focuses on the start-up processes, creativity and opportunity recognition, business planning and marketing as well as financial management. Furthermore, the programme emphasises entrepreneurial growth and small business policy development with relevance to the enabling environment.

Who should enrol?

The programme is designed for pre-, nascent and start-up entrepreneurs who want to attain an advanced degree in entrepreneurship. It is also intended for individuals who work in an entrepreneurial environment and are involved with small business policy development. Although many students in the programme have academic credentials in entrepreneurship or business management, the programme is also appropriate if your education and/or experience may be in other disciplines (e.g. engineering or medicine).

Admission requirements

A relevant bachelor’s degree.

Related: This Enterprises UP Expert Explains Why Start-Ups Really Fail

Additional programme information

The duration of the course is one year. The language of tuition is English and the course will be presented in two blocks by means of the blended learning method (70% online and 30% contact sessions). Students need continuous access to the internet to complete the course.

Course Contents

Overview of modules for Block A

  • Ideation-to-market: Starting up
  • International Business Venturing
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 1)

Overview of modules for Block B

  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Supply Chain Management
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 2)

Click here for more information.

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Win A Business Makeover With Retail Capital To The Value Of R250 000

Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000.

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Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.

While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”

According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.

For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.

The prize includes the following:

  • Business plan/consulting
  • Marketing strategy
  • Design and branding
  • Website and social Media and,
  • R50k capital to gear your business.

Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”

He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”

“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.

He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”

But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”

Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.

“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

Who we are and what we do:

“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.

“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”

Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.

“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”

Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.

“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.

Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.

“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.

As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.

Win A Business Makeover with Retail Capital

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