By Mike Thatcher
Outsourcing: It’s a big word that carries big associations. At least it did when outsourcing was the exclusive domain of multinational corporations. Today, though, outsourcing has become democratized and is easily within reach of even sole proprietors who need help keeping up with their workload.
Although there are many ingredients that go into the recipe for creating a successful business, outsourcing itself, when done right, can provide an array of benefits both obvious and discreet. Benefits include greater competitiveness, lower overhead, enhanced flexibility and a better overall product or service. All these objectives are achievable through outsourcing because outsourcing provides you the ability to:
- Redirect your energies toward core business concerns: With small businesses in particular, owners are often wearing several hats. But this “jack of all trades” approach will only get you so far. At some point, you become jack of all trades and master of none, and your core business suffers. Outsourcing can put an end to this dilution of focus and set you back on the road to excellence.
- Perform critical work that may be outside your core expertise: You may be the world’s best Search Engine Optimization expert but not have much experience or expertise with accounting. In that case, it may be beneficial to outsource bookkeeping responsibilities in order to avoid making costly mistakes that could undermine your company’s long-term health or even bring down the wrath of officialdom.
- Reduce fixed costs: Fixed costs, such as the salaries of full-time workers, may be holding you back or dragging down your ability to stay competitive. This isn’t to say you should slash your payroll willy-nilly but rather that you should consider outsourcing activities that don’t have a direct impact on your core product or service, such as office cleaning, deliveries or customer care.
Finding the Right Contractor(s)
The above reasons for outsourcing are all valid and common, but if you can’t find talented and/or trustworthy contractors to outsource to, none of it matters. While technological advances make finding good contractors (and replacing bad ones) easier than it used to be, the selection process is still rife with potential pitfalls, and you’re likely to wind up kissing a lot of frogs before you find your prince or princess. But be persistent.
Clarifying the Relationship
Just because you’ve found a dependable contractor doesn’t mean your work is over. You need to have an in-depth conversation with the new person or persons outlining exactly what you expect from them and then get them to sign a contract that reiterates the points covered in the conversation. You may want to use incentives to motivate the contractor to hone in on those things you believe to be central to your business in order to prevent them from personalizing the process to their liking and your detriment.
Hiring a contractor to handle non-core business functions is a bit like raising a child. At some point, you have to step back and let them do what they’re going to do. They’re professionals, too, after all, and you chose them because you believed they had what it takes to do the job. It’s a fool who grants trust to those they know nothing about. But you’ve done your interviews, checked their references and had them sign the contract. So unless there’s something else that needs to be discussed, trust them and just as important, trust yourself, your judgment and your process.
Reaping the Rewards
If you’ve chosen wisely and your outsourcing efforts are humming along without a hitch, you’ll likely start to enjoy the benefits in fairly short order. The extra time you now have to divert to core business concerns should result in process improvements that lead to a better product or service. And because the person you’ve outsourced to is also saving you money, you’ll enjoy a more robust bottom line as well.
Regardless of the size of your business, it’s likely you can benefit from outsourcing some of your non-essential work. Outsourcing today is an essential weapon in the entrepreneur’s arsenal and is no longer something reserved for the high and mighty of the business world. Take the above tips to heart, and you’ll soon be on your way to a more prosperous future.
Mike Thatcher is a digital entrepreneur and a corporate refugee. He left a corporate career to work with SaaS startups that he believes are going to help a lot more people than any other solution. He is currently with Jobrack, providing people with the utmost experience of using this exceptional job board to find quality IT staff in Eastern Europe.