In the small business world, outsourcing is the process of hiring contractors to manage areas of your business you would otherwise do yourself.
While the mainstream media tends to draw associations between outsourcing and job loss, outsourcing may be one of the smartest business moves you can make as a small business owner. This is especially true if you regularly find yourself working longer hours than you’d like. You likely end up wearing too many hats throughout the day, and often waste your time on tasks that could easily be managed by someone else.
For many entrepreneurs, outsourcing marks a key shift in small business growth. It can be a stretch to attempt to manage every aspect of your business on your own. Assigning tasks to qualified freelancers and contractors can become an essential aspect to operating your business.
Is Outsourcing Risky?
If you’re used to having your hands in every area of your business – from operations and marketing to accounting and payroll – outsourcing can feel a bit risky.
How do you know the work will get done correctly? What if the person you hire makes a mistake?
Is it not easier and cheaper to keep doing everything yourself? The answer, in short, is ‘absolutely not.’
In this article, you will learn why paying freelance contractors to do essential small business tasks is almost always more cost-effective than doing things yourself.
I’ll also reveal a simple 5-step process to get started with outsourcing, including how to help find qualified freelancers you can trust to help your small business thrive.
4 Big Benefits of Outsourcing
The benefits of outsourcing can be substantial. Here are the top four ways outsourcing can be used to help streamline small business operations and speed overall growth:
#1: More time to run your business
Whether you are B2B, B2C, a startup or a one-person show, there’s a reason you began this entrepreneurial journey. The reason: you have a passion and talent for what you do.
That might mean a passion for great wine or a talent for web design. It could be speaking, coaching, or writing books. Whatever it is, that passion forms the core of your business, and is likely how you prefer to spend your time – helping customers, working with clients, and sharing your unique value with the world.
But you can’t run a business on passion alone. You also need to prepare invoices, balance the books, create marketing campaigns, and complete all sorts of mundane tasks that seem to have little to do with your passion.
When you outsource these tasks, it frees up your time to focus on what you do best. When you’re able to pour more of your energy into the areas of your business you’re passionate about, instead of spending your time scanning receipts and doing data entry, your entire business can flourish.
How outsourcing can help make you money
Consider how much money you make per hour when you’re doing what you love. If you run a coaching business and you charge $250/hour, every hour you spend not coaching incurs a loss of $250. That means spending an hour doing your QuickBooks or fixing your website just cost you $250!
Now let’s say you decide to outsource those tasks to a qualified freelancer at $50/hour. Your time is then freed to take on a client for $250. After paying your freelancer, your profit is now $200.
So which would you rather do – miss out on $250 or make $200? With outsourcing, the choice is yours!
#2: Increased quality through expertise
When you don’t outsource, you’re responsible for the success of every area of your business. I’m good at a lot of things, but I’m certainly not an expert at everything. I bet you’re the same as me.
Maybe you’re a whiz at accounting but really struggle with design. Maybe traditional marketing comes naturally to you, but you have no clue how to approach social media.
Whatever your weak spot, outsourcing to an expert can ensure professional, high quality results across all areas of your operations. In other words, if you’re not a web designer but you design your site yourself just to save money, all you end up with is a subpar website.
Skimping to save money does can do your business a disservice because the quality of the work does not reflect the value you provide your customers.
How outsourcing can help save you money
Outsourcing to experts in specialized areas like web design, marketing, SEO, and development can save you money as well.
Let’s use the same web design example from above. If you’re not a designer, it may take you hours to make one simple change to your website – a change that an expert designer could have completed in a few minutes!
Remember what your time is worth. Would you rather lose $500 spending two hours on a website tweak, or pay a professional designer $100 to do it for you? Spend your precious time doing what you do best, and leave the rest to the pros.
#3: Passive income
Outsourcing allows your business to keep booming, even when you’re miles from the office.
Without outsourcing, your business growth is limited by the number of hours in the day, and how much you personally can get done.
With outsourcing, your business continues to move forward in the hands of your capable freelancers. For instance, you could be relaxing at a barbeque while your Virtual Assistant is busy answering customer emails and fielding calls. Outsourcing helps your business generate revenue even when you step away, which is a sure sign of success.
#4: Projected success
Speaking of success, outsourcing is a great way to help position your small business as an established entity – no matter how small you may be right now.
When you employ a team of professional freelancers, you’ve suddenly gone from one-person show to a bonafide organization. While they may be located remotely, you now have a team that will make your business appear even more established, trustworthy, and knowledgeable.
How to Get Started with Outsourcing in 5 Simple Steps
1. Identify your goals
When you make the decision to start outsourcing, determine which aspects of your business needs the most support. What, specifically, would you like a freelance contractor to do? Common outsourced tasks include:
- Web design and development
- Social media management
- Customer service
- Data entry
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Virtual Assistant (VA) services
Look for parts of your business that don’t necessarily need your personal touch, as well as areas where you lack expertise.
Be sure to specifically articulate what you want done by writing it down. Instead of “I need help with accounting,” write “I need someone to create and send invoices, email clients who have not paid me, and track employee hours in my accounting program.”
2. Find the right freelancers
Websites like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com are great places to connect with skilled freelancers and niche experts. Once you know which tasks you need to outsource, you can search for freelancers with matching skills and connect with them online.
3. Create a detailed job posting
After determining which tasks you’d like to outsource and finding a handful of qualified candidates, create a detailed job description and post it on the freelance website that looks most promising.
Be specific about the work you need done, your expectations for the freelancer, the project timeline, and your budget. If applicable, ask for work samples and recommendations.
4. Hire multiple candidates
After reviewing submissions from various contractors, hire your top three choices to complete a sample task or project. Be sure to pay freelancers fairly for their time. This sample project will demonstrate the quality of their work. It will also give you insight into the contractor’s workflow. Observe their communication style, responsiveness, and professionalism.
At the end of the sample project, determine which freelancer best met your needs. If you weren’t thrilled with any of your choices, go back to step 3 and tweak your job description to better reflect your expectations.
If you found a great freelancer, consider hiring them for a minor project first. If that also goes well, you may want to hire them for ongoing work.
5. Repeat the process
Repeat this process for every area of your business that can be outsourced.
As we can see, outsourcing can be a powerful, cost-effective way to streamline operations, increase profits, and spend more time on the areas of your business you’re most passionate about.
When you’re able to focus on your passion, that positive energy infiltrates every area of your business. It’s this kind of passion and energy that positively impact your reputation and speed your business growth.
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