Running a business takes a lot of effort. You need to market your services, manage your customers, handle employees, file your paperwork, pay your taxes, clean your offices, buy supplies…the list goes on and on. While you may be a phenomenal multitasker with endless energy, the truth is that you may also need some extra help. That's where small business outsourcing comes in.
What Type of Help Should You Get?
There are two basic ways to go about adding manpower to your business.
- You can hire people as employees. For example, if you are a busy handyman, you may want to hire a part-time office manager. This means adding the person to your payroll as a fixed expense. Remember, you will also need to pay this person’s social security, possibly health insurance, and vacation days.
- You can outsource certain types of tasks. Outsourcing companies are a good option for many parts of your business that require attention from time-to-time. In fact, outsourcing services you don't like to do or that it takes you a long time to do is an excellent idea for most business owners, for all sorts of services. In general, outsourced workers already know their task. That means they come on the job ready to work, so there’s little learning curve. Plus, they're economical. You only have to pay for the hours they worked or projects completed. If you use an outsourcing company, you don't even have to find these people yourself.
Areas for Small Business Outsourcing
Small business outsourcing can help you run your business better, and free up your time to focus on the tasks you do best. You can, in fact, outsource just about any task, but some of the more common ones you may consider include the following:
Business process outsourcing
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, business process outsourcing
is basically the outsourcing of your back office activities. These activities can include internal functions like human resources and accounting, or customer-facing activities like a call center. Here are some examples of how this can work for you:
- Small business accounting – While you can certainly file your taxes on your own, it is often worth your time and money to hire a professional. Every dollar you spend on a good accountant is money saved on headaches, hassle, and amateur errors.
- Small business bookkeeping – If you don’t want to hire an accountant, you may consider outsourcing your bookkeeping. You can have someone come in to your offices once a week to issue invoices, send payments, file receipts, and update your financial transactions.
- Human resources – If your business is small, with few employees, an independent human resources professional (or company) is an excellent option. Outsourcing HR can help you with the hiring process on a per need basis, or help you come up with an employee policy. Also under the HR domain, you can use payroll outsourcing services to process payments at the end of each month.
- Customer support – Not all businesses need to have someone in-house answering the phones. For many, hiring a customer support service is enough. This can work in two ways. The first option is customers call your number and the service answers, passing on the message to you. The second is having the service handle the call from start to finish, only updating you as to the outcome.
As a small business, you likely don’t need a full-time lawyer on your payroll, but legal needs do come up from time to time. It’s always good to have a lawyer who specializes in your line of work and small business insurance
in your rolodex, or even on retainer. That way you can be ready in case of a lawsuit
or anything else that comes up.
The marketing options are endless, so this is a pretty big category. For example, you may want to go with outsourcing to a professional PR company to get your business profiled in a local newspaper. On the other hand, a social media-savvy college student may be the perfect person to manage your Facebook page or Twitter account. Other marketing tasks you may want to outsource could include building a website, a graphic artist and copywriter for company brochures, or a content expert for creating frequent blog posts.
This one’s pretty obvious, as many people already do it, but you should definitely be considering outsourcing your cleaning, especially if you work outside your home, and keep an office. This can mean hiring a cleaning person to come in once a week if you don’t have a lot of foot traffic. If, however, you need your offices cleaned daily, you may want to work with a janitorial service to ensure the manpower is always available.
Another small business outsourcing lifesaver is logistics outsourcing. This is especially true for businesses like retailers who have a lot of inventory to manage. Activities covered could include things like warehousing, order fulfillment, and deliveries.
Unless you’re a tech-heavy business, your IT needs are likely limited. As such, it can make good business sense to outsource your computer infrastructure and internet needs to a professional.
What Else Should You Outsource?
At the end of the day, you can outsource just about every aspect of your work that you don't want to or don't have time to handle yourself. Certain jobs you’ll find are worth hiring in-house. The ones you need less frequently are often the ones worth outsourcing. It’s up to you to find the balance between your budget and your needs
and to make small business outsourcing work for you.