For many small businesses, growth is everything: the day your business stops growing is the day your business starts dying.
But growth takes time and resources -- time and resources you may not feel you have.
The following is from Ed Reeves, co-founder and director of Moneypenny, the market-leading telephone answering specialists with offices in the U.S., U.K., and New Zealand. (Instead of having random people in a huge call center take your calls, Moneypenny assigns one person to your account.)
No one can do everything. And neither should they.
As entrepreneurs, however, we're generally pretty bad at accepting this fact. I definitely was in my early days. We naturally want to protect the company we've spent months if not years nurturing... and letting go of the reins can be terrifying. The truth is though, we have to.
Growth--and that's the ultimate goal for any business--can only be achieved when you're free to focus on the things that drive the biggest ROI. Creating new products, developing your service, improving your scalability... those are efforts definitely worth your time. Taking care of paperwork, sorting out payroll problems, making sure your website is SEO optimized, or designing an advertisement are not.
Freeing up the time to focus on what is truly important, is, of course, a lot easier said than done. For most small business owners every minute of every day is already crammed full.
So what are your options? For many firms, one of the most popular is to outsource. Here are four reasons why you should outsource certain tasks and how that can boost your growth:
1. Outsourcing frees up capital for growth.
Saving money isn't just smart; it's a necessity for most companies. Why? Saving money frees up capital you can invest elsewhere in your business.
This is key--especially in the early stages--when you'll benefit from avoiding large expenditures. Fortunately this is where outsourcing offers exponential advantages. By converting fixed (and often sizeable) outgoings into variable or smaller costs, outsourcing frees up cash to be used elsewhere.
It's equally beneficial if you're looking for funding. Those investing are far more likely to be attracted to a company that has the cash to plow back into revenue-generating activities. It seems obvious, but time and time again I've seen otherwise successful businesses flounder because they've failed to grasp this.
2. Outsourcing lets you focus on what you do best.
I hate doing accounts. It has, and always will be, my idea of purgatory.
So one of the first things I did when I founded Moneypenny was to hire an accountant, someone who loves sifting through spreadsheets and sorting out figures.
Why? For one thing, I knew they'd be far better at doing the accounts than I ever would. But secondly, and most importantly, I also knew it would buy me back some time -hours upon hours that would otherwise be wasted on working out the math, keeping up with compliance changes, or trying to understand the latest rules and regulations. That, by anyone's measure, would not be time well spent.
As an entrepreneur I am most useful to my company when I focus on the activities that will make it grow. To do that, I need time.
This applies to anyone in any business. We all need space to focus on what we do best, and if we don't have that time we have to create it.
Master this and you'll unlock the secret to faster growth.
3. Outsourcing gives you instant access to experts.
Here's one of the earliest business lessons I learned: the biggest barrier to growth is surrounding yourself with the right people.
In the early days, however, this is easier said than done. With a limited budget, the million dollar question is: How do you find those all-stars who can take your company to the next level?
One of the best ways is outsourcing. Whether you're a startup, small business or sole trader there will surely be tasks you need help with on a one-off or part-time basis. Like designing a new website. Or coming up with a successful marketing campaign. Or payroll, IT, or customer service.
Whatever it is, outsourcing is a sure-fire way to access a talented bunch of people at a fraction of the price it would cost to hire them in-house.
Gone are the days when larger corporations held the monopoly on looking professional. Clever cloud technology has leveled the playing field and allows even the smallest firms to rival their larger competitors.
4. Outsourcing gives you much greater flexibility.
No two small businesses are the same... yet the one thing they do have in common is the need to be flexible because things can--and often do--change quickly.
Take a client of ours who runs a boutique event agency. Before joining us she typically received a few inquiries a week. But then, after an article about her firm appeared in a national magazine, her phone lines went crazy. She knew it could be a step change for her company but also knew she didn't have ability to maximize the opportunities on her own.
That's when she gave Moneypenny a call. In a matter of hours we were able to provide her with a professional and experienced virtual receptionist, something that would have taken weeks if not months if she'd hired in-house. (It can of course work the other way, too. You may lose a major client when you least expect it and suddenly no longer need the manpower you previously required.)
Either way, outsourcing has clear advantages. Not only can it provide you with instant support, but a service can adapt to the peaks and troughs of your business.
It's a competitive world and those who are responsive undoubtedly have the edge. Outsourcing is a great way to dramatically improve your ability to be responsive -- and to free up the time and resources you need to grow your business.