In the early stages of small business ownership/entrepreneurship--and maybe beyond--there are a few tasks, jobs, and professionals you need desperately, but not on a permanent or full-time basis. Luckily, outsourcing doesn't have the same stigma it used to and it can be a crucial part of your business. Asking permanent employees to wear multiple hats doesn't just lead to burnout, but it's also unlikely you'll find a truly multi-talented candidate. People's strengths are in various fields, and your company deserves the best on all fronts.
Even better, outsourcing (whether via an agency or hiring freelancers/contractors) means you're not required to give them benefits. That's why they demand a bit more on an hourly or project scale, but when you're not giving them health insurance, paid vacation, paid sick time, or any other perks your employees get, you often come out ahead. Plus, particularly in states that aren't, "at will," it's a lot easier to end this professional relationship than with a permanent employee.
Here are a few of the potential freelancers or outsourced workers who might be crucial to your business. Maybe you're forcing employees to take on these roles even when they're not trained for them. Maybe you're skipping this expertise altogether. Either way, it's time to give freelancers and outsourcing agencies another shot:
The odds of a small business needing a permanent web developer/manager are slim to none. However, in the digital era and mobile ready world, you definitely need to be on top of your website presence game. There are plenty of, "experts," out there happy to take your business, so make sure you look around, get recommendations, and check out portfolios. You don't always get what you pay for with web development, so balance their promise and background with your budget.
SEO is a set of best practices that moves your website(s) up the rankings based on your keywords or key themes. For example, when someone Googles, "movie theater Nashville," there's a reason why some websites come out on top: SEO. SEO is always changing and includes a number of factors including linkbuilding, quality content, site speed, and more. This isn't something you can learn, master, or should attempt yourself.
Make sure when you're choosing an SEO company to not just go with the cheapest option upfront. Do your research. Here are my top SEO blogs so that you can learn a little bit about SEO to know what's going on behind the scenes.
From landing page content to press releases, direct mail campaigns to your blog, "writing," is more critical to business than ever before. It's often the main way you communicate to potential customers, job candidates, investors, and the general public. Some companies think it's easy, and even charge their interns who are majoring in English, with writing content. This is a huge mistake and impacts your reputation--and SEO.
Writers can be very hard to find. I have hired 100′s of writers over the years and only have stuck with 4-5 of them. Don't let crap go up on your site.
Just because you have 1,000 friends on your personal Facebook page, that doesn't make you a social media manager. This is a very real, demanding, niche, and difficult job that only the experts should tackle. They should be able to give you a timeline with goals, report with analytics on a weekly basis, and be the driving force behind your online reputation. This will also help you not look like a rookie online.
There are many aspects to entrepreneurship, and a lot of the more difficult tasks are tech-centered. If you try to DIY with every scenario, you're not going to be doing any of them well. Take advantage of outsourcing--it saves you money, gets you better quality experts, and lets you try out different freelancers with ease.