Some businesses can handle normal daily activities but need outside help to take on new projects that don't justify another employee. Other businesses are just struggling to manage day-to-day business. Still others are seeking ways to get more done or cut expenses in this challenging economy.
There are many valid reasons to consider outsourcing, but here are some of the most compelling.
- Focus on core business activities. For many businesses, the primary motivation to outsource is that it frees owners, managers and employees to spend their time on income generating activities.
- Improve opportunities for growth. Frequently opportunities for company growth and a desire to expand business operations exist, but resources to make it happen are lacking.
- Increase efficiency and effectiveness. In many cases, outsourcing allows access to expert talent. Outsource service firms can offer innovative approaches, the latest technology, and creative, cutting-edge solutions that otherwise aren’t available.
- Improve your bottom line by decreasing your expenses. A skilled contractor or firm can generally perform work less expensively than a full-time employee can, and the costs of hiring, training, and maintaining employees are eliminated, as are taxes and benefits.
Here's what you can, and should, be outsourcing.
1. Administrative tasks. Scheduling, travel arrangements, data entry, typing and other administrative tasks can usually be handled by a virtual assistant or administrative service. While these tasks are crucial to the proper functioning of any business, they are not usually core business activities.
Where to find help: Assistant Match, AssistU and IVAA help match businesses with screened administrative service providers and offer directories of professionally trained virtual assistants.
2. Lead generation and customer service. Sales calls are often a matter of numbers; more calls equal more sales and leads. Once the initial outreach has been made, closing the sale can be handled by the internal sales force. A talented salesperson’s skills can be better utilized to close sales and handle clients, rather than make cold calls. It can also be a great deal more efficient to outsource customer support than it is to maintain a qualified support staff, especially for product-based companies.
Where to find help: Global Response and The Connection are recognized sales and customer service providers to many of the world’s top brands. Resource Nation allows companies to get quotes from pre-screened business solution sources.
3. Accounting and financial duties. Accounting firms or individuals can help with many financial services including bookkeeping, invoicing and accounts payable and receivable, as well as financial reporting, analysis and planning. Outsourcing payroll processing alone can save considerable hours, headaches and dollars. Many financial contractors will bundle these tasks for even greater savings.
Where to find help: BookkeepingHelp is a popular source of experienced financial professionals. This is one area to be very careful when outsourcing. It’s a good idea to check with certifying organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs or American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
4. Marketing. Effective marketing determines how both brand and company reputation are perceived in the marketplace. A marketing firm or consultant can often provide an outside perspective that an internal marketing staff cannot. Professional freelance writers can develop higher-quality, polished content that will improve marketing efforts. Website design, brand development, press releases and online marketing duties such as social media, blogging and search engine optimization are good candidates for outsourcing as well.
Where to find help: Guru and Elance are two of the best-known sources of freelance contractors. They cover many areas of outsourcing, but excel in the areas of writing and design.
5. IT operations. It can be extremely expensive to handle IT operations in-house. The average business has limited ability and knowledge to manage all of its IT needs. Unless you’re an IT company, IT is a maintenance and repair function, not a core business activity. The potential advantages of outsourcing IT tasks are enormous.
Where to find help: CrossLoop and Tech Guru both offer access to full spectrum of IT remote services.
6. Human resources. Employee acquisition and human resource functions can easily be administered by an outside agency. Outside firms are more skilled at advertising, screening suitable applicants and checking references. Using an HR or employment service to manage employee benefits can also be wise, since they must stay up to date on the latest employment laws and standards.
Where to find help: Ceridian and Trinet are both well-known HR service providers offering a wide range of resources from recruitment to payroll to benefits administration.
Often, the best way to locate high-quality outsourcing prospects is through recommendations from your professional network. A referral from someone you know and trust is a much more reliable gauge of quality and is usually based on the level of skill and not simply the cheapest cost. Professional groups or associations and LinkedIn can also be great sources.
Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at GuardWife.com and Twitter.com/RoyaleScuderi.
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