Growth is a great problem to have. But it also comes with some tough decisions. Outsourcing is one of them. Outsourcing means contracting another company or an outside consultant to perform certain functions or processes.
As a business owner, you have to prioritize your time and tasks to make sure your business runs smoothly. If something should call you away from your business, outsourcing certain processes can give you peace of mind that nothing is falling through the cracks. And if you don’t have the expertise needed for a particular process, a consultant who does have that expertise can lend a hand.
So how do you decide what to outsource, and what to do yourself? In this blog, you’ll learn what you can outsource and what you should do yourself.
- What can you outsource?
- What should you keep in-house?
What Can You Outsource?
Outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to pass off tasks to an expert. If you aren’t sure whether outsourcing is the right course of action for your business, consider the costs and benefits, not only in dollars but in time spent. Some processes can be outsourced more easily than others, and companies or firms exist to make outsourcing easier for you, providing their own consultants for your business through one-to-one matchmaking.
Payroll can be outsourced to companies specializing in HR for small businesses. Many of these companies offer payroll services, HR support, and benefits administration for small businesses. They may also offer business loans, tax services, and employee onboarding. These companies can also lend their expertise to recruiting or provide you with applicant tracking platforms if you want to keep talent management in-house. Outsourcing your payroll frees up your time for other resource management tasks, like financial planning.
Web Design and Maintenance
Websites are the new billboards, so having a digital presence that stands out from the competition is the first step to expanding your business. If you’ve outgrown your current website or want to create one, a customized site is more effective at selling your product or services than a template website. Local web design agencies can step in and help you design and deploy the website of your dreams. After deployment, these agencies can also maintain your website, troubleshooting if necessary.
Your website is an investment in your business, so trying to do it yourself may end up costing you more in time and resources than outsourcing would. Websites are important but can be temperamental. Without experience in web design and writing code, you could end up with a broken website, causing a domino effect that negatively impacts your business in missed sales and opportunities.
If you’re looking to create a website with a local agency, plan on asking for proposals from three different agencies. If your potential vendors know there’s competition for your business, you’re more likely to get better work. And don’t be afraid of getting referrals from other local business owners. They’re your best source for reputable and local vendors. You need to be able to trust the agency you choose and be able to call on them during an emergency for remote or in-person help. And if you grow enough to bring web design and maintenance in-house, you need to be able to trust that person as well.
Legal matters are best left outsourced to an attorney. Issues like commercial property taxes, trademarks, or patents can be best navigated by experienced attorneys. Tax issues especially can involve lots of paperwork, appeals, and unforgiving deadlines. These matters can be cumbersome and difficult for a business owner to take on themselves – even more so without prior knowledge of the legal system and proper procedure. And hiring in-house legal counsel is expensive, especially if you don’t know when you need advice or representation. In these cases, it’s a wiser choice to only pay for counsel as needed.
Should the need arise, you can research outsourcing counsel firms online, or get a referral. Your attorney is an advocate, and outsourcing your legal counsel will give you the strategic advice on the best course of action for your business.
What Should You Keep In-House?
Some time-consuming business operations are best outsourced, but there are still vital functions that should always be performed in-house. These are processes that can’t be completed by outside resources because they’re too vital to your business’ operations.
No one knows your business as well as you do. Core competencies, or the advantages that set you apart from your competition, is at the heart of everything you do. Outsourcing the most central parts of your business would be detrimental to your long term success and growth. Consultants can offer their own insight and expertise on certain aspects of your business. But at the end of the day, consultants can’t replace your core team.
You need to have team members that complement your strengths and weaknesses with you at the helm of your business. Core competencies like customer service, product design, and marketing are best left in-house so you have a stable team with you to roll out new products or services and to help your customers.
Accounts Receivable and Accounting
Despite their complex appearance, you can handle your accounts receivable work in-house instead of outsourcing to a firm. Payment platforms and virtual terminals can automate and streamline many of the more time-consuming aspects of invoicing and bookkeeping. You can set recurring or one-off invoices from a virtual terminal in minutes, and with two-way syncs, that data will instantly transfer to your accounting platform. You can even see when customers review your business on Google from your payment platform. It’s an all-in-one tool that makes managing invoices and payments straightforward and simple.
Managing your own cash flow yourself also means you have the best visibility into the current state of your business’ health. Instead of waiting for an outside financial team to process your invoices and give answers to time-sensitive questions, doing invoicing yourself on a payment platform means you can instantly find the answers you need and get paid faster.
Digital marketing can be kept in-house and scaled with your business. Having a website is a key part of an effective digital marketing plan. But digital advertising, email marketing, review management, and social media all play a role as well. With the right tools, you can automate most of your digital marketing – especially social media and email.
Marketing automation platforms streamline what would otherwise be time-consuming manual processes. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp come with templates to cut your workload in half when you want to send the perfect promotional email. And social media posting platforms let you upload posts in bulk to schedule them ahead of time.
For digital advertising, Google AdWords will post your business’ ad across their network to users by bidding on relevant keywords. For example, searching “tree trimming services” would result in a landscaping company’s website at the top of the page as an ad. If you need an introduction to digital advertising’s best practices, Google offers online certifications. Inside AdWords itself, you can manually set daily spending or have Google bid on keywords for you to automate the process and keep you under your budget. Once you’ve started to experiment with AdWords, you can get more in-depth and advanced with your digital advertising.
You can further automate your marketing by integrating platforms through workflows like Zapier. “Zaps” pass information between two different platforms to automate your process. You can connect your CRM to your email marketing platform so new contacts are automatically added to a subscriber list. This is one capability you can leverage. But with automation, your business’ digital marketing can be seamless, even if you’re doing your business’ marketing yourself.
What to outsource is a tricky question and the answer rests on your business’ processes. The costs and benefits of outsourcing depend on your staff and available resources. But when you streamline your business processes, you have a more productive team and day.
Learn how you can easily collect customer payments at your business to save even more time!