Almost every small business out there starts with a person with a great idea and lots of energy. The road to success, however, can be a lot less bumpy if you define from day one what you wish to handle internally and which activities can safely be outsourced.
You can have all the energy in the world and you still won’t be able to handle everything on your own, not for long anyway (not even if you’re the Energizer bunny – and if you don’t get the reference, shame on you)
Business Process Outsourcing is the best way to avoid a ghost that haunts many small business owners: micromanaging, aka the need to do everything yourself to ensure it meets your standards. This is a very common problem many founders have that can end up stalling the company’s development.
Thinking you can do it all by yourself is the biggest mistake you can make. Focusing on your business’ core processes and outsourcing secondary back-office processes that would otherwise take too much of your time is the solution to that problem.
Isn’t my small business too small for outsourcing?
Of course it isn’t! No business is too small for outsourcing! That’s another common mistake people make when it comes to outsourcing: they firmly believe it’s too expensive and, therefore, only reserved to big companies (with big budgets).
They’re wrong, though. Technology advances have made outsourcing a lot more accessible to businesses of all sizes and it has been largely responsible for boosting these businesses’ productivity and growth.
Technology has also made it possible for you to search contractors and freelancers a lot more easily. Small business owners now have access to extremely qualified professionals from all over the world to light their work burden without the added stress (and taxes) that come with in-house employees.
Knowing when to outsource is almost as important as knowing what to outsource. There isn’t a magic number to define the right moment to outsource, though. The right moment is not the same for all companies but keeping your eyes open for certain situations may help identify the right moment to outsource. For example, if it comes to a point where you and your employees are no longer capable of managing your day-to-day operations or, even though you want to grow, you can’t seem to have enough time in your day to pursue growth, that may be the right moment to outsource.
Outsourcing can help boost your small business!
We’ve briefly went over how you can identify the right moment to outsource (some specialists even say very small business should outsource from day one), now it’s time to identify key activities you can outsource that’ll make a huge difference in your productivity.
It’s very likely you’re already outsourcing some of your business tasks, such as tax management or payroll administration. What makes modern day outsourcing so great is that you can outsource almost anything you want to.
You have to have the right reasons for outsourcing an activity, though. Outsourcing a task just because you don’t want to do it is a big no-no. Your business may come with a handful of activities you wish you didn’t have to deal with but, if they’re part of your core business, I’m sorry to say you have to deal with them yourself.
There are three main categories of activities that can be successfully outsourced:
- Repetitive tasks – These are tasks that don’t demand a lot of specific knowledge but would take a lot of your working hours time, such as data entry, inventory, dealing with accounts payable/receivable, etc.
- Tasks that demand specialized knowledge – Some tasks that demand specific knowledge, such as IT support/customer helpdesk, might be successfully outsourced to external providers with the right set of skills.
- Highly specific/executive tasks – Your business might not need (or be able to afford) someone with a C-level of expertise, such as a CFO or a CIO, to work with you on a full-time capacity. What can help with that is hiring a consultant with the necessary level of expertise to come in once or twice a month to analyze and offer you insights on whether you’re headed towards the right direction.
After you’ve identified what and when to outsource and found a contractor that can cater to your needs there are a few steps you must go through to ensure things will work out as you expect them to.
The first step for ensuring your needs will be fulfilled exactly as you need them to is specifying all that in writing. Drafting a contract that specifies the exact responsibilities and expectations is key to safeguarding your company’s interests. Making sure the outsourced contractor understands exactly what you need from him and what you expect his results to be can be extremely important to avoid misunderstandings. Don’t leave anything to assumptions, spell everything clearly so there aren’t any questions left.
Always keep in mind that if the task at hand demands specific product knowledge it may take a while before the provider gets up to speed so don’t freak out if the first couple of weeks don’t reach the expected results, respect the learning curve and wait for it.
When outsourcing is extremely important to let go of the tasks you’re outsourcing so you actually allow people to take control and do the job you’ve hired them for. If you’re tempted to micromanage tasks, take a good breath and learn to delegate. You won’t actually be reaping any benefits from outsourcing if you’re spending all your time managing the tasks you’ve outsourced.
Outsourcing is a risk, as is almost everything else in small business management. To lower those risks it’s important that you choose the right contractors, define what and when you’ll start outsourcing and, most importantly, learn to let go of all those menial tasks in order to properly focus on making your small business fly higher!
If you’re not totally ready to outsource your business processes, there is still an efficient and easy method that can help you boost cost-savings. Business process management software like Pipefy is easy to use and helps streamline and automation your processes.