5 Business Functions to Consider OutsourcingReduce risk, save time and grow your business by getting help in these key areas.
“Time is money.” That’s never truer than for a small business owner. The trick is to spend most of your time in ways that will grow your business, and not waste it performing roles you don’t excel at — and risk making mistakes that could cost you.
In other words, delegating to experts is key. And for many small business owners, that means outsourcing.
“Running a business is a lot like scaling new heights,” said George Schildge, founder and CEO of Matrix Marketing Group. “From the beginning, the odds are against you. Nearly 95 percent of businesses fail to reach $1 million in revenue, and only .001 percent make it to $5 million. It can be a lonely climb, and determination is just the beginning. All too often we’re wearing many hats. You can’t do it all alone.”
Schildge and other business consultants share their advice about which tasks small business owners should outsource.
Hiring, firing and understanding rules and regulations around compensation and other aspects of employment are no easy tasks. Yet attracting and retaining great employees is key to your success as a business owner.
According to a 2013 survey of small business owners from the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations, small businesses that outsourced their HR grew 7 to 9 percent faster and had 10 to 14 percent lower employee turnover rates than same-size businesses that handled their own HR.
Of course, avoiding legal challenges over HR issues is also important.
Every business needs at least one good lawyer, mostly to avoid potentially costly legal mistakes when it comes to structuring and running your business. Otherwise, you could lose your business in a divorce or a lawsuit, for instance. Lawyers can help you understand what kinds of business insurance you need. You’ll also need legal help for equity crowdfunding and other tasks.
Accounting and bookkeeping can eat up much of your valuable time on a daily basis, and the consequences of making mistakes can be severe or even fatal for your business. Hiring an accountant with expertise in small businesses is a must to reduce your risk, especially during key moments such as tax time or when you are considering a major financial move.
A bookkeeper is an important part of your financial team and can help you keep records up to date and ready for times when an accountant is needed.
While there are DIY options and programs to help, Schildge said, “It’s better to leave things, such as taxes, to a professional. Tax law is always changing, and managing the taxes for your business has the potential to eat up a ton of time that could be better spent growing your business.”
Maintaining a Web presence can quickly become all-consuming. Eric Brantner, blogger and founder of Scribblrs.com, said, “Small businesses should look to outsource website design, copywriting, social media and search engine marketing. In other words, all aspects of your online presence.”
If you’re running a small business and you try to do all your Web work yourself, “either your work will suffer or your website will suffer,” said Brantner. “Not only that, I’ve seen way too many businesses trying to do their own social media marketing, but without a measurable plan with goals, they ended up wasting time and money.”
Tanya Dale, founder of Cost Saving Marketing, agreed. She said inbound marketing and social media strategies work best when small businesses are consistent and persistent, and this may be best accomplished by outsourcing these functions to a company that specializes in them.
Customer service may seem like a task you want to keep in house. But it, too, can become time consuming. And a lapse here could cost you customers.
Dale said for many small businesses, real growth comes from retaining existing customers by way of great customer care — and capitalizing on that care by keeping in touch with customers and asking for feedback, testimonials and positive online reviews.
“Online reviews left by happy customers can create great exposure for small businesses and raise the business’s online profile,” she said.
Communicating with customers regularly, such as through e-mail newsletters that bring them the latest promotions or offer sneak peeks at new products, is vital for small businesses. “Frequent e-mail communication creates brand recall, which often leads to customer referrals and even word of mouth advertising,” Dale said. Hiring a company to do this for you can keep this function on target, especially during times when you are too busy to keep up with it yourself.
Where to find the help you need
Schildge said as a business owner, ultimately you will have to admit that you can’t do it all — so do what you are good at, and find the best people within your budget to help with the rest. “Always outsource your weakness. Spending your time focusing on your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses allows your business to grow quicker,” he noted.
To find the help you need, do some research on sites like LinkedIn or talk with fellow small business owners to get referrals. Check out Moz for inbound marketing help, Fiverr for a variety of digital services and Upwork or Guru for freelancers who specialize in everything from Web design to accounting and sales.