Is the growth of your website creating a heavy workload? Outsource extra work to save time and resources so you can concentrate on building your business!
Two phones are ringing, three new reports are on your desk, taxes are due at the end of the month, payroll at the end of the week and your website has crashed… again. You are the overworked small business owner. As your business has grown, the challenges and demands on your time have multiplied. You have less and less time to do what you love, run your business. Maybe it’s time to consider outsourcing some of your responsibilities.
A June 2014 survey by Gigaom Research found that only 14% of small business leaders are happy with how they allocate their time to business activities. Almost half said they spend far more time handling operational issues than on growing their small business. Nearly all (92%) plan to outsource at least one of their areas of operation in the future.
No two small businesses are alike, but here are seven services that it generally makes sense to outsource:
1. Information Technology (IT):
Outsourcing IT using outside vendors or cloud-based solutions grants your small business more flexibility, giving it a greater chance to expand. A 2014 Deloitte survey found that 53% of companies outsource at least some of their IT functions and another 26% plan to do so in the near future. Also of note, cost savings can be as high as 40%. That’s a lot of savings that can help your business grow!
Most small business owners know payroll is a pain. For some reason, despite being a commonly outsourced service, 60% of small businesses try to deal with it themselves. Outsourcing and allowing experts to administer your payroll has been proven to decrease cost and increase tax compliance.
Small businesses save 18% over businesses that try to handle payroll in-house. In addition, the IRS calculates about 40% of small businesses end up paying $845 in penalties as a result of late or incorrect filings and payments.
Small businesses also spend about 24 work days and around $22,000 annually trying to manage sales tax compliance themselves, and that amount can quadruple if you are audited. If you outsource, online services and automated software can decrease these risks and save you time and money over the long haul.
According to Elance.com, three in four U.S. small businesses say hiring freelancers gives them a competitive edge. Hiring skilled freelancers can give your small business the same advantage. With one-third of Americans now choosing to freelance, contract, or consult, there is no shortage of skilled personnel available through outsourcing.
When you outsource, freelance, and contract workers it allows your company to utilize talent you might not otherwise have the funds for. Outsourcing allows your business to scale staffing needs according to projections or seasonal needs. Just be sure you are properly classifying outsourced workers to avoid IRS scrutiny and possible penalties or let your outsourced financial expert handle that for you, too!
eCommerce and Social Selling – Salespeople who use social media to interact directly with their audience is more essential in today’s economy than ever before. E-marketing, online storefronts, and social media networks are very effective for small businesses. For a small business, having full-time PR, social media, and web design experts on staff isn’t always fiscally viable, nor is it the most effective way to utilize your resources. Small business owners spend roughly 33 hours a week on marketing tasks. A majority of this group, 76%, reports inadequate time each day to finish everything. When you consider the demands related to e-marketing, it’s evident that outsourcing is an advantageous decision for most start-ups and small businesses.
Small business owners start small. The base for your retail operations might be a rented space in a shared office rental or more likely, you started from a room in your own home. As your business grows, however, your needs change and you may run out of space before you have the finances to upgrade to another. At this point, outsourcing logistics becomes a great option. Sure, you could rent a warehouse and hire staff to handle product storage, shipment, and delivery or you could outsource it until your business is more established.
Outsourcing logistics lets the experts handle warehousing and delivery activities. They can respond quickly and scale to meet demand more easily and cost-effectively than you. It can also reduce overall spending and help improve customer relations with streamlined, professional order fulfillment. Most importantly, outsourcing to a logistics provider allows you to focus your time on selling, merchandising, and growing your business.
6. Customer Support:
Customer service is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. In an SMB, office staff or salespeople often have to handle customer service, trying to balance new customer acquisition and maintaining current customer satisfaction. In this type of setup, whoever answers the phone tries to handle the customer service concern, with decidedly mixed results.
Outsourcing to a call center with an experienced, trained staff, will provide instant professional agents that can skillfully handle customer service calls. Cloud-based services or shared agent solutions may be the more affordable options. Compare services and prices of various call center outsourcing services, and make certain they provide the services your small business requires.
7. Special Projects:
While you are undoubtedly knowledgeable in your field, special projects can require specialized skill sets. Your secretary may know a bit about web design, but not enough to give your website a professional, up-to-date appeal. Outsource it.
Even if you do have the skills, it may be more cost-effective to outsource a one-time project. Paid office time is worth a lot so don’t get tied up in every daily task or special project that comes along. Even if your lead salesperson knows how to lay carpet, redecorating the office is not the best use of his time or the salary you’re spending on him!
If you have a one-time project that falls outside your small business area, it’s a good idea to consider outsourcing it so that you and your employees can focus on generating income and new business.
When you outsource, you can focus your time, attention and resources on your company. Spend the extra time setting new goals and finding ways to achieve them.
Even though there are some risks, outsourcing offers companies many advantages. Effective outsourcing allows you to add skilled professionals to your team, without the additional expense of full-time employees.
Reducing payroll, accounting, employee benefit costs, and related paperwork with outsourcing will give you more freedom to focus on what is important to you – expanding your business! Outsource tedious or complicated tasks and spend your valuable time doing what you love!
Nancy P is a Midwest native who recently made a move out to the Old West. When she’s not taking the eCommerce education world by storm, she enjoys photographing the beautiful cacti and desert landscapes that surround her.