Outsourcing is defined as hiring individuals or firms to perform specific business functions rather than all in-house. It used to be that only large companies used this strategy because the vendors they worked with were also significant.
The situation has changed today. Along with internet access, we now have access to local and online businesses and individuals willing to take on as little or as much of our daily duties as we want to outsource. Today, small businesses worldwide are gaining the efficiencies, skills, and cost savings required to grow at never-before-seen rates.
The only snag? Many small business owners are unsure of which specific responsibilities they should delegate or what they should look for in the vendors they hire. If you plan to outsource in the new year, keep reading for the top tasks we recommend hiring out, as well as information about what outsourcing vendors can do and the benefits they can bring.
Website Development and Maintenance
Unless you're an expert in web design and development, leave this part to the professionals.
Lisa Chu of Black N Bianco recommends outsourcing design and development tasks to freelancers in a Business News Daily commentary. Business owners should concentrate on growing their company rather than on the time-consuming task of creating or maintaining a good e-commerce website. She also suggests that owners hire multiple people to do these tasks so that they are not solely reliant on one freelancer.
Practical Ecommerce lists 19 websites where you can hire developers or designers. Because design and development are separate but closely related roles, outsourcing the employment to an agency where such staff will work for you is also a smart option.
To hire the best candidate for the job. Begin by reviewing their portfolio and previous projects, searching their professional profiles on LinkedIn, and requesting references.
Good customer service can mean the difference between staying in business and going out of business. Superior customer service, which is what customers expect, is not only time-consuming but also requires a great deal of patience.
And as you expand, the demand for customer service will increase. That is why it is common to outsource this to a call center or chat service.
When hiring a company to provide customer service, do your homework. These individuals will be dealing with your customers, and you must ensure that they are treated fairly.
Information technology is the most commonly outsourced small business function, along with accounting and finance. It all makes sense. Both of these competencies are highly technical and require specific skills that must be refreshed regularly. IT outsourcing resources for small business owners range from creating and managing company email addresses to storing and protecting company data in the cloud. "Around 90% of [attendees in its worldwide outsourcing study] had seen the cloud as one of the main enablers in their outsourcing journey," according to recent Deloitte outsourcing research. Check the references and online reputation of any IT company you consider hiring, just as you would with any other company you consider outsourcing with. Your digital footprint is far too valuable to trust to just anyone.
Social Media Marketing
While social media remains a meaningful way to connect with current and potential customers, the time required to create content and participate in online communities can be prohibitively expensive. Given this, hiring a freelance social media manager or agency to write and manage your social posts on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter may be worthwhile. You can hire social media marketers and managers hourly through services like Upwork and Guru.
Search Engine Optimization
Today, whether you're a B2B or a B2C business, potential customers find you by using a search engine (Google, by far, is the largest). Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing function that necessitates extensive industry knowledge.
Another issue is the frequency with which Google and the other major search engines (Bing and Yahoo) update their algorithms. It would be impossible for you to keep up, and hiring someone with the necessary knowledge would be prohibitively expensive.
Because social media plays a significant role in SEO rankings, the company or person you hire should also have a strong foundation in social platforms.
This is not a task for the inexperienced, so look for someone with experience when outsourcing SEO.
Accounting for a business is not an easy task, even though it is a necessary one.
Accounting for a business necessitates a significant time commitment because it entails ordering and categorizing each invoice, creating customer and/or supplier cards, entering billing data, accounting, and so on.
More and more businesses are choosing to outsource accounting to a third party, but it is critical that the company is professional, trustworthy, and has extensive experience, ensuring complete confidentiality of the data processed.
Human Resources Tasks
Human resources in a small business cover a lot of ground, from hiring to managing your team. You may believe that you do not have enough employees to justify outsourcing HR, but because HR covers so many job responsibilities, it may be worthwhile. First, consider the specific HR responsibilities you require. These may include:
Employee education Employment law compliance, such as safety regulations (OSHA)
Outsourcing payroll is a common first step for many small businesses. Because there are so many constantly changing rules and regulations, it's difficult for an in-house person to keep up.
Making a sales call is something that most small business owners dread. It makes sense; sales calls can be considered intrusive and offensive even by those who make them. They can also take some time to perfect. So why take on such a psychological burden? Contract out your outbound sales strategy to people who have been trained to be effective salespeople. Lead generation firms will identify target customer characteristics (such as title, industry, ZIP code, and so on), compile contact lists, and set up appointments with potential customers on your behalf. Many companies like this charge (at least in part) based on scheduled appointments, so the cost is linked to the outcome.
If your small business serves multiple clients in a single day or week, outsourcing your scheduling to a reputable provider makes a lot of sense. By outsourcing the function, you can reduce no-shows, ensure teams arrive at the right job sites and provide a better customer experience. Firms can book and confirm customer appointments, follow up to ensure that any forms or pre-payments have been submitted, and manage their internal scheduling software to ensure that everyone is where they ought to be - while they should be there.
Outsourcing resources for small businesses address a wide range of requirements. As one would expect, they are available at various price points. In most cases, price equals quality and professionalism in outsourcing. That being said, if you're willing to put in the effort, there are always underpriced 'diamonds in the rough.'
Quality contractors are also often shared by word of mouth or networking among small business owners. If you're looking for a new vendor to handle some of your small business tasks, ask around in your professional network. You will almost certainly end up with a list of outsourcing resources to contact and, perhaps more importantly, a list of who not to contact.