Running a small business can be a hard job at times. There are so many different services that you need to cover and as a small business, you may not have the resources to do it all yourself. Whether you are producing products or services, you still need to do a lot of background work that can be tedious and take up a lot of time. That's why small business outsourcing services are becoming so popular.
Many owners of small businesses are now beginning to outsource various jobs within their companies because first and foremost it saves them time. That gives them the freedom to prioritise what really matters: working on the business.
Successful entrepreneurs know that they cannot get stuck with a low impact task. One of the most important functions of a leader is to ensure that the business makes money. That means concentrating on the strategy and the services that, when performed correctly, bring the sales in.
What is outsourcing in a business?
Business outsourcing services
Business outsourcing services are where external service providers, who specialise in a particular niche (like marketing or HR management for example), complete various tasks that business owners or key members of staff would otherwise do in-house.
There are really two types of jobs that can be outsourced:
- A service that you or your company do not have the prerequisite skills to perform;
- A job that is time-intensive, which can be handled more efficiently by an outsourcing party.
Saving on costs
One of the critical reasons that a business would outsource a task is that they do not have the resources or skills to provide such a service in-house.
On the flip side, an outsourcing agency will provide you with a high-level service at a comparably much lower price than it would cost to hire a specialist employee. You also don't have to worry about all of the HR, management, and administration.
A strategy to save time
There is an array of time-intensive tasks businesses have to undertake. Although these jobs might make up important processes to ensure a business runs smoothly, they are by no means ones that entrepreneurs or key employees should handle.
In these situations, it's all about valuing your time and doing the maths. For example, if you are spending 10 hours a week on a task that could be outsourced to a VA for $20 per hour, not only are you saving yourself at 5 times the cost (presuming you value your time at least $100 per hour), you are also freeing up 10 hours of your time to prioritise on other more important duties.
When you don't outsource, it ends up taking you away from the more important parts of your business like servicing your customers. Remember adding value to a customer should be one of the key reasons why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. You should be thinking about how you can benefit your customers rather than worrying about jobs like organising payroll each fortnight.
Support in these jobs will not only save you time, but it will also ensure you have the space required to work on the product, not in the product. Entrepreneurs that own firms in the digital space or incorporate some sort of novel technology, for example, should be working out what the next iteration of their product is. They shouldn't be reconciling payments for tax day.
Outsourcing for small businesses
We often concentrate on small business outsourcing services because it's smaller companies that really get the value. This is because they are outsourcing what they need rather than hiring in-house personnel as the big companies do.
The aim of outsourcing has to be to have all aspects of your business and the tasks at hand covered by the best people for the job. This also has to be achieved within the budget constraints of said company.
There is no point in trying to do everything yourself, especially if you not confident in what you are doing. Even worse when the consequences are that you as the owner and key manager are running yourself into the ground trying to get it everything done in a timely manner.
What kind of tasks can be outsourced?
There are many different tasks within a company that can be outsourced and different businesses will hire different providers based on their needs.
As we hinted above, an outsourcing provider is chosen for one of two reasons:
- The business owner has analysed the internal operations to find a time-intensive, low-value process to outsource;
- There is a business requirement for a specialist service that the company does not have the resources to undertake in-house.
Some entrepreneurs or companies worry about the size of the service they need to outsource. However, there are outsourcing services of all shapes and sizes. You can outsource comparably small tasks like content writing to a marketing firm and in return get a blog post a week written for your business. Or you could outsource larger ongoing tasks to an outsourcing provider, who essentially sets you up with a readily available resource like a software development team in the Philippines.
Chances are you will not find one person that can cover all your outsourcing needs. However, having a few people on board helping with these various jobs will help make your life a lot easier.
Examples of small business outsourcing services
As a business owner, it can be difficult to let go of parts of your company and let someone else take control. It is, however, a move that will help your business run smoothly.
So, what tasks do small businesses outsource and why? Here are four of the most common small business outsourcing services:
Accounting and Bookkeeping are great examples of services that we as entrepreneurs all know need to be completed. Certain aspects like bookkeeping are doable to action yourself but time-consuming. It's important to point out that an expert bookkeeper that provides the same services regularly to its customers will take a much smaller amount of time to do a particular job compared to an entrepreneur who looks at the books once a month or quarter.
Other jobs, such as accounting, may well actually be outside of our abilities as business owners. For example, in big business, you have a dedicated accountant who works together with your HR team to onboard a new employee. They ensure that everything is in place from Payroll to leave entitlements and so on.
That is why many business owners will outsource some or all of the accounting and bookkeeping tasks within their business.
It is important to get this part of your business right and often best to leave it to the professionals.
2. Marketing Services
Marketing is a huge part of any business. If you can't bring in the sales then you can never succeed in making money. However, these days marketing is so diverse that even those within the industry specialise.
Social Media is a great example of this. It is becoming an integral part of running a business. It is a key way to get your name out there, be seen by thousands of people and all at a very low cost.
However social media is more than just creating a page and sharing a random post every now and again. There are different algorithms and ways to post that will help increase the number of people that see your posts. It actually takes a specialist to be effective. You could, of course, hire in-house but outsourcing is much more cost-efficient for a small business owner.
That's why Small business owners are starting to outsource their social media management. It means that businesses get a page that is filled with engaging content. It also ensures that there is support to provide informative and interactive with the audience across that medium. As a result, companies don't have to depend on owners to interact or add content just when they have time to do so.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is another great example, particular in terms of expertise required. Google changes its algorithms regularly so an SEO specialist has to be abreast of these changes to ensure that there are no negative effects. Creating the right kind of content to rank can be time-consuming and confusing at times. By outsourcing, you are able to get the right content created and uploaded in a timely manner.
3. Web Development
All businesses these days need to have an active website online and available to customers. It acts as a sales funnel outlining your company's services.
There are indeed ways to get a website up and running without outsourcing to web development agencies. These involve DIY templates for platforms such as WordPress and Wix.
However take it from experience, this can literally cost you days and days to do it yourself. Plus templates are typically a lot slower than sites designed by a web agency (check out our article on improving the speed or your WordPress site here).
All in all, it's a much better idea to be using a web development outsourcing service. Not only will the quality of the site be better and more customised. Site speeds will be much improved, which is critical for SEO.
On top of that, the other service you will get is support and maintenance. By outsourcing the creation of your website, you can be assured that the site is managed by professionals who can get you back up and running in no time if there is ever an issue.
4. Software and App Development
While there are plenty of off-the-shelf solutions out there to help run a business, there often comes a time when you need something custom. It could be in the form of an internal system to help streamline operations or a new product you are launching to your customers.
Having a specialised app for your business will take it to the next level. That's why it's so important to have it developed properly. You need to ensure it runs smoothly so that you give your business the best chance at benefiting.
Software definitely comes under the category of a skilled service that you are unlikely to have in-house. Not just that but projects usually run for 6-12 months at a time. That means that it's unlikely to be something that you want to hire a team for. Even larger companies choose to outsource this type of job.
We recently wrote an article about choosing the perfect software development agency. Within this, we discussed all of the different skills that are needed to conduct a software development project. It's really important that you hire an agency that has all of the pre-requisite skills from UI/UX designers to the various different developers. When you understand all of the different specialists that required, you realise quite quickly why so many owners choose to outsource. Hiring internally can become a very expensive exercise.
Final thoughts on small business outsourcing services
Small Business Outsourcing Services are becoming ever more popular. That's because many owners are starting to see the benefits. They now know that they can free up their own time up to concentrate on duties that truly make a difference to their business. They are also able to find quality specialists at a much cheaper rate than hiring in-house.
If you haven't yet considered outsourcing for your business, I want to challenge you to review your operations. Find out how you spend your time each week. If there are time-intensive tasks that can be outsourced find a provider. If there are specialist tasks that could be better performed externally, find a specialist.