With the rise of remote working, outsourcing and how to outsource functions in your business has become a trending topic.
There’s a Time and Place for DIY
Out of 30 million small business owners in the United States, 22 million are solopreneurs. And when they have a small business challenge, they are more likely to DIY any business initiative rather than outsource it, according to a recent survey done by BizSugar.
I’m all for DIY (this is DIYMarketers, after all). But you have to choose what you DIY carefully. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re wasting valuable customer acquisition time and resources trying to figure something out that an expert or professional can do quickly and easily.
What is outsourcing for a small business?
Outsourcing means that you are getting goods or services from a resource outside your organization.
The connotation of outsourcing has changed over the last 20 years. Outsourcing used to be reserved for larger companies. But that was before the internet flattened the world.
For more than 20 years now, technology has made it possible for small businesses to look, feel and run like big business.
Why should a business outsource work?
If you want to truly work on your business and not in it, outsourcing is the answer.
Imagine being a marketing consultant who can’t design a website (that includes a lot of us). You get the opportunity for a HUGE contract and they need a website. Having an outsourcing process and strategy allows you to take on new business that would otherwise be out of reach.
Small businesses should outsource work that doesn’t match their expertise, experience and strength.
Outsourcing frees you up to go after customers and projects that are outside your personal area of expertise but inside your strategic goals.
What Are The Biggest Challenges With Outsourcing?
The biggest challenge to outsourcing is simply not knowing how to outsource. If you have guidelines for what you will outsource, what you want and the skills required to do the job, outsourcing can be a boon to your business.
Here are three common complaints about outsourcing and how to avoid them.
If you’ve never outsourced before, finding qualified contractors can be a real challenge. Where do you go? What do you look for? How do you know they can do the job?
How to find the most qualified contractors
The best way to find qualified people is to know exactly what you are looking for in a contractor.
- Write out the exact tasks that you need and want done.
- Keep it simple at first. So that the person isn’t overwhelmed and so you can make adjustments.
- Highlight the specific skills you are looking forsomething like getting things done on time, using a particular software,
- Do the process yourself – and find the best way to do it then document it on paper.
- Screencast yourself doing the process and talk your way through it – talk about what you’re thinking and why you are doing what you are doing. This puts the person inside your head and way of thinking and making decisions
- Choose how you will communicate — email, text, some type of instant message
- Have the person complete a portion of the task and create an opportunity to get together to answer any questions and make adjustments.
- Review the process and make sure that everything is working as planned.
Another popular challenge or complaint about outsourcing is that contractors have a lack of commitment to your projects.
Sure, it’s easy to blame the contractor for a lack of commitment. But that’s a cop out. Here are some sure-fire ways to guarantee that you get 100% commitment 100% of the time.
- Clarity about the goals, objectives, measurements and budgets.
- Instead of rushing out to hire first and define projects later, do the work upfront.
- Thorough searching, interviewing and vetting of contractors
- Setting a fair budget and fee for the work to be done.
- Regular milestone meetings
Control and Confidentiality
If you are working with confidential intellectual property, it can be scary to share it with an outsider. Even with a full-time employee, there is no guarantee that your confidential information is secure.
As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to have non-disclosure agreements in place. One of my favorite sources of non-disclosure agreements is Legal Zoom. Just answer a few questions, and you’ll get a template that will put a confidentiality agreement in place.
Here are a few helpful articles that explain on-disclosures in more detail:
Managing for Confidentiality
99% of outsourced contractors have no desire or intent to take or share your confidential information with any of your competitors.
But what about that 1%?
Again, it’s up to you to have a solid interview and vetting process when you hire contractors. Ask the person you are hiring how they handle and secure confidential information.
If your information is that confidential, place it in a secure place and only provide secure access.
When should a small business outsource?
If you are spending more than 40% of your time on activities that are NOT generating revenue, you need to consider outsourcing those tasks.
Track your time every ten minutes for at least two weeks. Then apply your hourly rate to the time you’ve spent on any task that isn’t generating revenue. This is the amount of money you are missing out on by doing things that are not in your wheelhouse.
What are the advantages of outsourcing?
- Frees up your valuable time and focuses your energies on growing your business.
- Adds on-demand expertise to your business so that you can serve more customers.
- Run your business 24/7
- Cut costs and overhead
- Staffing flexibility
- Supplement existing staff skills
What are the best tasks to outsource?
The best tasks to outsource are those that are don’t generate revenue, but lead to revenue generation.
Here is a partial list to get you started.
- Website development, design, and maintenance
SEO optimization of content
- Social media scheduling and automation
- Facebook advertising
- Paid advertising/PPC
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Data entry
- Video production and editing
- Answering customer support emails
- Project management
- Scheduling sales appointments
- Writing email sequences
- Setting up email marketing campaigns
- Setting up landing pages and lead generation forms
- Writing ebooks and other lead magnets
- Editing blog articles
- Writing blog articles
- Production and distribution of newsletters
- Competitive analysis
- Data analysis
What is one segment of your business that you should never outsource?
Never outsource those elements of your business that depend ONLY on you.
For example, if you generate leads through public speaking — you wouldn’t outsource your speaking gigs. But, you might outsource the prospecting for speaking opportunities, following up with prospects, and creation of your slides.
Your goal is to focus your time and efforts on building and growing your business and not on repetitive tasks that can be automated or outsourced.
If it can’t be automated or outsourced and you are the only person who can do it — that is the task you keep for yourself.
So, should you be outsourcing? Absolutely! To get the best results, layout your process, determine exactly the skills you need, conduct thorough interviews and vet your contractors and you’ll be amazed at the results.