Written by: Jock Purtle, Founder, Digital Exits
Owning and running a small business is a very empowering experience. Being able to take an idea and convert it into a successful and profitable enterprise is no small task, and it can easily make you feel on top of the world.
However, a common pitfall for many entrepreneurs is to take this feeling and go too far with it, convincing themselves they can do anything and everything related to the business. And while it’s good to be in control of things, if you really want to take your business to the next level, you need to learn what things are best delegated to other people who can do them more efficiently and effectively.
Outsourcing used to be a somewhat dirty word, as it’s often associated with the movement of jobs from one place to another. But in today’s connected, digital world, it’s not only an accepted practice, but it’s one that is emboldening both individuals and companies. Businesses can take advantage of top-level talent from all over the world, and individuals can use their skills to build a flexible life. It’s a win-win.
But too few small businesses take full advantage of outsourcing. Either they are convinced it’s too expensive, or they simply don’t see the benefits. Just as important as the decision to outsource, though, is the decision about what to outsource. Freelancers and contractors are supposed to make your life easier. You should be getting help for tasks you cannot do, and you should be choosing things that take up time that could be better spent focusing on core businesses processes and strategic thinking.
Here are five things small businesses should be outsourcing more to be more successful:
This can be one of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks for any business. Keeping track of accounts payable, filling out timesheets, filing taxes, paying invoices and so on can seriously take away from other aspects of the business.
Break away from this and get some help for your bookkeeping needs. There are countless firms out there that do this extremely well. Plus, since this is their primary function, they will do it for far less money than you could, and they will be able to better handle activity increases. So, no more pulling your hair out when tax season rolls around!
Marketing is huge for any small business, but it can also be a major headache. It takes a ton of time to develop the right strategy, create the best content and then find ways to get that content in front of your target audience. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending a fortune without seeing results.
Fortunately, there are tons of marketing agencies out there, some of which specialize in very specific aspects of marketing, such as Facebook advertising. You should be the one driving the strategy conversations, as you know your company and audience best, but bringing in some help from the outside to get your message out is a great way to save money while increasing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
In today’s competitive marketplace, customer service is becoming increasingly important, especially for small businesses. Being able to deliver a pleasant “customer experience” to everyone you interact with is essential for setting you apart from your competitors, and also for encouraging people to keep working with you.
Unfortunately, good customer service can be very expensive. People have grown accustomed to 24-hour service, which means to do this on your own would require around-the-clock staff. And this doesn’t even touch the digital infrastructure you would need to set up your own call center.
People often associate outsourced customer service with big companies, but there are so many professional customer service firms out there that this doesn’t need to be the case. You can easily find someone who can help you please customers while also freeing up time and resources for you to focus on other aspects of your business.
Quality administrative assistants are a great way to improve the efficiency of your company, but they can also be expensive. Thanks to the internet, however, you don’t always need to have someone in the office to take advantage of what an admin can offer.
By outsourcing menial tasks to a virtual assistant, you can more easily find someone who can work part-time. Thanks to apps and services such as Setmore and Simplybook.me (among many others) you no longer need someone to help you manage your schedule, so you can instead make use of admins for a whole host of other tasks.
And since you are hiring them on a part-time, contract basis, you don’t need to worry about offering benefits, saving you a lot of money. Although you could still throw in a few perks, such as a free coffee subscription, to help increase engagement and retention.
Your business is your baby, and you likely are an expert on many aspects of it. But just because you are the entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean you know everything. When small businesses eventually grow, one of the first things they often do is to start looking for professional management that can help bring the business to the next level.
This is a great idea, but it can get expensive really quickly. Most small businesses can’t afford to bring in outside CEOs or CFOs full-time, but you can bring them in as consultants. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge about how businesses make money and how to navigate the waters of the market.
Consider bringing someone in a few times a month to look at your financials and to offer some advice as to how to move your business forward. It’s a good way of adding some expertise to your business without breaking the bank.
Outsourcing is a fantastic way for you to make use of the world’s ever-growing talent pool without having to break the bank. Sometimes small businesses are wary of doing this, as it means forfeiting some control. However, if you do it strategically and in a way that supports your core functions, you’ll soon find outsourcing to be a major component of what makes your business a success.
Jock is an internet entrepreneur who specializes in the buying/selling and appraisal of online business. Since every business he runs is online, he has been outsourcing key business tasks since the very beginning, and when he works with people looking to sell, this is one of the first things he looks at. You can find Jock’s work featured in publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Business Insider and Entrepreneur.