Your business is growing and you’re lucky enough to find yourself taking on an increased workload. How do you maintain this growth without compromising the integrity and quality of your service? The solution for most businesses is simple. Outsourcing.
While you may be able to handle everything on your own, actually doing so will give you less time to focus on the more essential areas of your business, and stunt your growth. When properly utilised, outsourcing can allow you to strategise your business operations far more efficiently.
There are many reasons why a small business may choose to outsource, from taking on a spare pair of hands in busy periods, reducing overall costs on staff or bringing in specific skills on a temporary basis. Outsourcing also allows you react to market demands and capitalise on new revenue streams which were previously outside the remit of your business.
As technology becomes more and more advanced, the world becomes smaller and highly skilled freelancers from around the globe are now only a few clicks away. There has never been a better time to capitalise on the incredible resources at your fingertips. You can start by asking yourself these key questions.
What is your brand?
The first step to understanding your business, and helping others to, is to understand your brand, and by association, your product(s). No matter what aspect of your business operation you’re trying to outsource, spend some time with your potential freelancer to explain what your brand is all about so that they understand what it is you’re trying to achieve.
What are the different elements of your business?
Whether your business is a service or a product, it will undoubtedly be made up of a series of components. Break your business down and start to think about which aspects of it could benefit from external help. Evaluate the pros and cons, set budgets and timelines and look at all the different options available to you. Doing this at the beginning helps you to better plan your overall outsourcing strategy.
What can you outsource?
Here, you need to decide what you need to outsource and what can stay in-house. Be mindful of what you outsource, and never farm jobs out just because you don’t want to do them. Anything that’s important to your core business (or that makes your small business unique) should always stay in-house.
The types of tasks that are best outsourced fall into three general categories.
- Highly skilled, or executive, expertise – to provide analysis or to give support in some area Examples include data analysts or risk assessment consultants.
- Highly repetitive tasks that are time- consuming and/or administrative but necessary. Examples of this could be accounts administrators or payroll managers.
- Specialised knowledge- anything that requires technical knowledge that falls outside of your remit and might be expensive to justify having on your staff full-time. For example, IT support staff.
Where can you find your outsourcers?
The first place to look for outsourcers is in your own professional network where you can ask for recommendations from your business associates and contacts. You may also find a number of freelancers from online platforms dedicated to connecting businesses with outsourcing partners.
Finding the right partner is all about understanding whether your requirements correspond to their specialisations. You must be absolutely clear with what it is that you require of them, and specify every detail of the outsourced tasks in a contract. Don’t leave anything to assumptions, as you may be the one to blame in cases of misunderstandings.
Do you have a statement of work?
The statement of work is the contract that sets out exactly what you need your outsourcer to do, by when and for how much.
It needs to include
- Specifications – what it is you’re asking your new partner to do
- Timeline – when certain parts of the project need to be completed by
- Milestones – the goals that need to be reached before a portion of the product is considered finished
- Updates – the frequency of meetings and how you will work together in order to keep things on track. This could be a weekly-scheduled call or meeting.
- Payment terms – this includes when and how you need to pay
How did it go?
Once all the work has been successfully completed, now is the time to sit down with your team and your outsourcer to talk about how it all went. What worked? What didn’t? What needs to be improved upon next time?
Cover all these areas, and you could be well on your way to making the most of outsourcing to streamline your business and reach all your business growth goals.