Are you one of those small business owners who are juggling with numerous responsibilities? Apart from doing your core work, you're tackling everything from data entry to managing operations? Initially, you thought you can do everything by yourself. However, now the company has grown considerably and things are becoming unmanageable. If that's true, have you ever thought about outsourcing?
Yes, outsourcing can be helpful for a small business in many ways. Most importantly, outsourcing can save a considerable amount of time and money, so that you can focus on your core business. Don't worry, we're here to walk you through the simple steps of outsourcing.
What should you outsource?
Ideally, any job that can be done at a desk can be outsourced. However, you need to make some critical decisions about what and how much you should outsource. Look at your schedule and find out where you can save more time. If you're spending a lot of time on customer follow up, data entry, social media management or testing your newly created mobile app, then you should outsource these tasks to save you time and money.
Related article: Software Development: Do It In-House or Outsource?
When you run a small business, spending money is the last thing you want to do. Therefore, as a first step in your outsourcing journey, you need to find out the cost and the amount of time you will save with outsourcing. Saving time is also important, after all, time is money.
If you have special projects to be outsourced, like the launch of a new website, you will have to budget for the entire project at once. You can get quotes from several providers to find out what the project might cost.
If it's a daily task which need to be outsourced, you'll need to figure out how much time you'll save by outsourcing it and compare that to your typical hourly rate. For example, if you're a marketing consultant charging $100 per hour, and spending five hours per month in your accounts and book keeping work, then you're losing $500 monthly. If you can find a bookkeeper to do that for $15, it will save you $425 each month. Think about it.
Finding the right partner
Finding the right outsourcing partner is an important decision to take. You can find the right help using the following:
Take help from your professional network. Ask for references from a few key contacts and let them know what you're looking for. This way, you can find a service provider who has a proven track record with your contact, so can be trusted.
Search for the service providers in your desired area using Google. Check their websites and LinkedIn profiles. Also check if they have any existing clients in the industry.
Go to any social media platform to find a potential service provider. However, LinkedIn is often the best option because it will give you in-depth information about a provider's experience.
Related article: How to Find an App Developer for Your Project
Here are a few tips which you should consider while outsourcing work to a third party:
1. Payment terms
Check on the payment terms they offer. This can change from one service provider to another. Don't assume the payment cycle to be 30 days. Get this information right at the start.
2. Sign a contract
Make sure everything is written down in the form of a contract and agreed at the start. This will avoid confusion and conflicts later.
3. Relationship management
Make sure you have someone internally to manage relationship with the outsourcing service provider. That person will be the point of contact, provide detailed instructions, be available to answer questions and sign off on things, so that your projects stay on track.
4. Define the scope of your project
Always start your outsourced project with a clear statement of what you are hoping to accomplish. Give service providers accurate and complete information, so that they can present you with realistic proposals and quote a reasonable price. Also, be clear about your project's schedule requirement. It can have a huge impact on project costs.
5. Thoroughly evaluate a service provider
When you're evaluating different service providers, ask questions and have discussions just like hiring a full-time employee. Selecting a vendor is a very critical decision. Check references and ask for feedback from their other clients.
6. Start small
Start with a project that is relatively small and simple in scope. This will help you understand the provider's style and capabilities before you entrust a critical project to them.
7. Negotiate ownership of work
Make sure that you are clear about who owns the project. This will help you get in touch directly with the relevant person in case of any questions / concerns.
Related article: Offshore development lessons from Matthew Stibbe
With outsourcing you can access best-in-class expertise without the cost of hiring full-time staff. Staying focused on your core competencies, you are able to hire expert outsourced service providers for your other needs and can compete with the capabilities of larger organisations in your industry.
This is a guest post by Siddharth Kamble. Siddharth is a Digital marketing strategist with ESG. With over 4 years of experience in various fields of digital marketing, he handles clients based in US and the UK. Siddharth has interest in the areas of Business & Digital marketing. In his spare time, he loves to travels. Get in touch with him on Facebook and LinkedIn.