No matter if you are starting out, growing your business, or have an established company, you may need to outsource certain tasks. No matter your budget or needs, there are times when you should think about shifting the workload to others, so you can devote more time and energy to the areas that will best grow your business. These key areas include finding new clients, supporting existing ones, launching new projects, and managing your staff.
You may be wondering which specific tasks you should outsource. When prioritizing the needs of your business, look closely at your team's daily tasks and your regular administrative processes. Odds are you can identify areas where your business devotes most of its time and may be competing with more pressing work. Here are some areas that are good candidates for outsourcing:
Jobs that require specialized skills or extra training that you or your team do not have
Tasks not directly linked with increasing profits or growth of the business
Jobs that are routine, procedural, temporary, or recur in cycles
It's important to not outsource something just because you don't enjoy doing it. If it's critical to your business then it needs your involvement and input. Also, keep in mind that outsourcing does not necessarily mean investing in full-time services. Most outsourcing can be done for the short term, or periodically, depending on your needs, and paid for on an hourly or project basis.
I have found four areas are often the best targets for outsourcing. Here is a look at each one and why they are worth the investment.
1. Payroll / bookkeeping / accounting
Depending on the size of your business, you often can outsource many financial services at first instead of hiring a full-time, in-house accountant, if it's not in your budget. I have seen small businesses try to do this themselves, or recruit a spouse or a family member who does not have a background in this area. My best advice is that this is not a place to save money because if you get yourself in trouble, the cost to undo the damage can be even greater than if you paid for the expertise all along. It's important to invest in experts that can get you set up correctly with daily bookkeeping, tax filings, proper budgeting, and forecasting.
To find the right person for your business, check the site for the accounting software you choose to utilize. Many accountants, bookkeepers, and CPAs get certified, and those sites have listings to choose from. Additionally, you can check out state CPA societies for their listing of CPAs in your areas. Also, ask your friends, family, and other business colleagues for recommendations. Depending on the size of your business, you can supplement work that your in-house accountant or bookkeeper is doing with tasks that are outside of their expertise, or if you have less of a need, you can even outsource bookkeeping for your business completely for the amount of hours you need per week.
2. Virtual assistant
A virtual assistant (VA) is a person or company that offers various support services. You only pay a VA for the hours the tasks are done, such as administrative tasks, database management, business reports, and meeting planning, to name but a few. I use VAs to help answer client calls and handle customer service when I am on the road traveling to speak at conferences and meet with clients I advise. This way I can ensure the day-to-day tasks and clients are taken care of. Reach out to your business network for recommendations. You can find VAs at websites like Upwork and Vanetworking as well.
3. Information technology (IT)
Even if you have someone on staff who is IT-savvy, there is a good chance that your technology needs will extend beyond that person's capabilities. Outsourcing your IT not only offers need-it-now support during emergencies, but reduces anxiety about lost business during emergencies, and keeps you ahead of new tech upgrades and security protection. In our world of cloud technology, it's always been important I have someone to outsource system integration work and ensure my team is properly trained on the software we utilize.
4. Social media
A strong social media presence is essential no matter your company size or industry to market your business and communicate to new and potential clients. A social media content person can write and post content, help launch campaigns, promote services, and manage correspondences. You might be able to manage this on your own at first, but to be fully engaged in this ever-changing area, you need an expert who can stay on top of it so you are consistent with what you post. In my businesses, I have a marketing and design professional who ensures we keep up with the posts and always stay engaged with customers, and other people that are now a part of our social media channels community.
Always keep in mind that the goal of outsourcing is to help you stay focused on your business' most important needs that help keep the lights on. If you get distracted with tasks that do not generate business, you can find yourself falling behind or nearing burnout. Investing in outside support allows you to devote more time, money, and energy into the areas of your business that need the most attention and can better drive growth and profit.