When is it worth outsourcing?

Outsourcing can feel like you’re losing control of your business. But, managed properly, it helps you focus on winning customers and generating revenue.

Multitasking businessman – when is it worth outsourcing?

Far from surrendering control, outsourcing helps you to focus on the core strengths and revenue-generating activities of your business.

Tasks like bookkeeping, transcription and writing copy for your emails, website and case studies are all vital but time-consuming. Outsourcing these jobs frees up time for you to concentrate on driving up sales and addressing long-term ambitions.

Companies that outsource their accounting are more able to concentrate on long-term strategic functions like forecasts and budgets, rather than getting bogged down in administrative and transactional processes.

The same goes for content marketing. Stepping back from in-house content creation gives you the chance to evaluate what you’ve done so far and where you want to go from there. It gives you space to think. Mavenlink has a useful flowchart for those deciding whether or not to outsource their marketing efforts.

Before you consider outsourcing, however, you need to think about what your needs are and answer three basic questions:

  • Do you need the work urgently?
  • Does the work come in erratic or seasonal spikes?
  • Do you need someone who knows a lot about a little – a specialist?

If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, outsourcing is the ideal solution. Hiring and training new staff  – particularly for rapid, short-term projects and irregular work – requires time, space and resources that most small businesses just don’t have.

But there are more advantages than just cutting down the time spent hiring and training new recruits:

  • Outsourcing lets you take full advantage of your business’s small size. You can start new projects and campaigns much faster than your larger competitors and enjoy the fruits of economies of scale without taking on more employees.
  • The nature of outsourcing means that you’re engaging specialists in a particular area – whether it’s bookkeeping or SEO copywriting – so they (should) know what they’re doing and they do it well. If you need someone who can wear many hats and knows a little about a lot, you might be better off hiring someone.
  • It’s fully flexible and scalable. This means that fixed costs are converted to variable costs, freeing up capital for investment elsewhere in the business.
  • It increases efficiency. By outsourcing peripheral tasks that are usually a drain on your time you can hone your business’s core strengths.
  • It also helps to keep overheads down. Fewer employees means less office space.

Of course, outsourcing isn’t a cure-all. Because you’re dealing with numerous external companies, each with its own culture, idiosyncrasies and time zone, outsourcing needs to be carefully managed and demands a good deal of trust. You need to ensure that you and your outsourcing providers are clear on what’s needed and the quality required. Make processes and expectations explicit by creating a straightforward set of guidelines.

Used wisely, outsourcing puts you back in control of your business and lets you concentrate on what matters – your customers.

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