As a small business owner, it’s likely you wear many hats. That’s great, it got you where you are today. But as you grow, there comes a point when that’s no longer sustainable, particularly if there’s significant work that needs to be done in an area that’s outside your wheelhouse.
Your first thought may be to hire another employee. That’s a good option, but only if (1) you can afford it, and (2) you believe there’s enough ongoing work to sustain the position. (Learn more about signs you are ready to hire.) If neither of these are the case, outsourcing is a smart decision.
Nowadays, virtually every aspect of your business can be outsourced to an independent contractor for a cheaper price than doing it yourself. And since the firm or individual has expertise in the area, the quality is likely higher than what you could provide on your own. Outsourcing is also efficient — ideally, your firm requires a lot less hand-holding than a new employee who needs to be onboarded, trained, and nurtured within the company.
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What type of things should you consider outsourcing? Here are some common functions small businesses farm out to outside experts.
The ethos of the business — your mission, your culture, your personality — always needs to come from the inside. But if you don’t have in-house design or copywriting expertise, you may need to hire someone to turn those visions into marketing collateral and campaigns. Ideally, whomever you work with can provide you with a package of assets (i.e., logos, fonts) that you can use going forward.
Finance and accounting
Unless you’re a larger business, you probably don’t need a CFO. Consider outsourcing all your accounting and finance-related functions to an accounting organization. There are many highly qualified “back office” accounting organizations available. The cost savings of using one instead of hiring a full-time accountant can be significant, and the time savings invaluable.
HR is a lot of work. In addition to recruiting new talent (and keeping the talent you have happy), the role includes administering employee benefits, implementing health insurance, setting up [retirement plans (401Ks)], and tons of other important duties. Outsourcing HR can help alleviate the burden of organizing and implementing these tasks.
Having all your systems running smoothly is mission critical. So if you don’t have someone on staff who can help advise on and troubleshoot tech issues (or if that person is already overtaxed), outsourcing IT is the way to go. There are many companies that offer 24/7 IT support. You may even be able to sign a monthly agreement to ensure your systems are always operating at full capacity.
Consumers have come to expect a high level of customer support. However, that can be a tall order for cash- and resource-strapped small businesses. Outsourcing customer support is a good solution. There are many firms that can provide online chat, phone, email, and click-to-call support for your business. A customer support firm not only makes your business more accessible to your customers but also can save you time and money in the long run.
With any function you decide to outsource, make sure to do your homework. Take time to shop around for the talent or companies that offer the expertise and services that best fit your business’s needs. Interview candidates, request references, and ask members of your trade association for any recommendations. It’s worth it to find the right partnership.