It’s never easy to let go of business processes that you or your staff manage on a daily basis. But if your company is growing to the point that the work for you and your employees is becoming too much to handle – you’ll risk halting the growth of your business.
But with today’s technology, you can add “virtual” employees to your team and outsource many of those time-consuming back-office duties that take your focus away from growing your business.
If you’ve run into the following business situations, it’s a good indication of the need to outsource:
- When You’re Understaffed: Having too much business is a good problem to experience, but if you don’t have the sufficient staff to handle it, your standard of service will suffer (not to mention you’ll burn out your employees!). Hiring “virtual” employees or freelancers is a good way to get the extra manpower you need to manage a bigger workload.
- When You’re Lacking Certain Skills: Your employees may be very skilled at that jobs, and it can be tempting to give them multiple duties to save money. But if you have your employees performing duties that they’re not trained at such as IT, you can end up hurting your business. Instead, consider hiring outsourcing such duties.
- When You’re Short on Time: Depending on the nature of your business, you may end up getting an urgent and well paying project that you just can’t say no to. If you don’t have the staff to handle the project before its deadline, you’ll not only fail your client, but your reputation will suffer too. To prevent that, hire a freelancer on a project basis.
What Should You Outsource?
Knowing what skills and duties can be outsourced differs from business to business. Some businesses outsource because they lack the expertise to handle a business process, while others need extra manpower.
Regardless of why you need to outsource, one thing is certain – it can save you time, money, and hassle (especially if you don’t have the capital to hire another employee).
Here are some important business tasks you can outsource:
Completing basic administrative duties is a necessary, but time consuming part of running a business. For some business owners, daily managerial activities can take up the entire work day. This includes doing everyday duties such as:
- Answering emails
- Sorting paper and electronic files
- Inventorying office supplies
- Maintaining and updating software tools
- Updating your business website
You don’t need to hire another professional for all of these duties. Instead, you should consider using an online portal such as TaskAmigo for as low as $30 – $120.
Having an amateur looking website, marketing collateral(s), or PowerPoint presentation to show prospects can make your company look unprofessional. In fact, unless you’ve got products on store shelves, your website is where many customers get their first impression of your company.
Instead of doing it yourself or having one of your employees handle do the company’s graphic design work to “save money,” it’s better to pay a freelance designer. You may have to pay several hundred dollars to get professional design work, but it’s a worthwhile expense for two reasons:
- A professional looking design won’t “scare away” any prospective clients. In fact, an attractive design may even bring in more business to your company.
- You’ll only need to pay for “major” design work on your website, collaterals, and PowerPoint presentation every 1 -3 years, depending on how often you update your products/services.
Fact Checking and Analysis
Fact checking and analysis is an important part of your marketing activities as a business owner. You’ll need to research which products/services work, need improvement, or should be added to your business.
Unfortunately, researching and analyzing these details takes up a lot of time. And if you don’t already have a marketing executive handling this duty, it’s a good idea to outsource your market research to a virtual employee.
Some business owners have the misconception that IT improvements make running a business more complex. That’s not the case, as automating some business processes saves both time and money, such as using a customer relationship management (CRM) system or cloud computing.
If you have problems with these systems, there’s always a help line. But you’re having a computer problem, that’s when you’ll want to outsource to people with the right knowledge. Thankfully, many of the PC problems you’ll run into can be managed by freelancers who’ll charge a nominal fee compared to repair shops.
Small Package Delivery
Package delivery can turn into a big expense very quickly, especially if you’re using a “major” courier service to deliver your products to customers. Instead, you’ll want to outsource this costly service to a smaller courier business.
Not only will your costs be reduced by up to 50%, but your products would probably reach your customers sooner as well.
Outsourcing to the Right Freelancer(s)
It’s only natural to be cautious about letting a “stranger” handle some of your business processes. In fact, you should always evaluate anyone you plan on handing work to. Otherwise, the economic and productivity benefits of outsourcing may turn into financial burden that’ll bring your business down.
Here’s how you can ensure that you’re choosing the right freelancer:
- Check Reputation: It’s important to check the reputation of any freelancer you intend to outsource work to. You can do this by verifying their resume, portfolio, or checking any freelancing websites they may be on. That way, you can read up on feedback they received from previous clients.
- Check References: If your freelancing selection(s) have listed any references on their resumes/portfolios, make sure you contact them. You’ll want to ask about their project performance, whether deadlines were met, and how easy he/she was to work with. If the freelancer has no references, ask for them.
- Insist on an Interview: After you’ve selected a freelancer, insist on having an interview. Having a face-to-face interview either in person or through Skype is a good way to judge your choice first hand. Make sure to ask any questions you would typically ask any candidate during a typical job interview.
- Explain Your Goals: Laying down the ground rules for working for you and setting explicit performance goals and deadlines is a necessity. Make sure whoever you outsource your work to understand what is expected. Otherwise you’ll run into project delays or miscommunication.