Facing greater competition for skilled professionals, more small-business owners are turning to outside help for administrative tasks in order to remain focused on core operations, a recent study shows.

Based on a survey of 150 companies nationwide with 20-25 employees by Achilles Group, a Houston-based human resources firm, the study found that smaller employers tend to outsource at least two functions, including accounting, payroll, information technology and public relations.

Employers said offloading these tasks helped free up time to concentrate on growth strategies and other revenue-producing activities. Outsourcing also reduced costs, while offering greater access to expertise from outside the company, they said.

"The most common reason to outsource at the enterprise level is to reduce costs and typically focuses on administrative tasks before moving to more strategic matters," Achilles Group Vice President Bill Bradshaw said in a statement. Smaller businesses also tend to outsource work to save time, he added.