How to outsource in your business
You probably started your business for a purpose – to be a tree surgeon, to repair cars, to deliver training courses, to manage property – but there’s far more to a business that just doing whatever it is you do.
There’s also the administration, marketing, business development, sales and customer service functions – all the back office tasks that are just as important to the sustainability of your business as doing the job that brings in the money.
So how do you manage everything you need to do?
You could work all day, every day, never taking a minute off and miss out on everything else life has to offer.
Or you could outsource.
Outsourcing is when you get someone from outside your business to provide services to you.
The tasks you outsource could be things you don’t know how to do, perhaps building your website, designing your logo or preparing your marketing literature. Or they could be things you are perfectly capable of doing but that aren’t a good use of your time, so perhaps your bookkeeping, scheduling your social media or managing enquiries.
Why you should consider outsourcing
Everyone has different strengths and yours are probably what you set up your business to do, so it makes sense that you should spend as much of your time as possible doing it.
If you dislike doing something, you’ll probably put it off until it becomes a massive task that fills you with a sense of overwhelm.
While you may consider that you can’t afford the cost of outsourcing, you may find when you do the maths that it would be more cost effective for your business for you to be spending time doing whatever it is you do rather than spending those hours trying to make your books balance – a bookkeeper will be able to do the job quicker and more easily and you could be doing the job you love instead bringing in income.
Even though you are a small business or sole trader, by outsourcing to specialists you will be able to grow and develop your business more quickly safe in the knowledge that you are building it on a firm foundation.
No one has ever outsourced too soon!
How to decide what to outsource
Start by making a list of all the tasks that routinely need doing in your business. Don’t miss anything out, include everything.
Now, work through each task and ask yourself these questions:
“Can I do this task?”
“Does it have to be done by me?”
“Do I want to do this task?”
You will now be left with a list of the tasks that can only be done by you; the tasks that you have the knowledge to do and want to do; the tasks you have the knowledge to do but don’t want to do; and the tasks that you struggle with or can’t do.
The first tasks to prioritise outsourcing are those that you either can’t do or you struggle with, followed by those you could do but don’t want to do.
How to choose who to outsource to
Once you have decided what you want to outsource, the best way to find out who will be a good fit for your business is to ask other people.
You can do this at local networking events or by asking your connections on LinkedIn. Their personal endorsements and testimonials will give you the reassurance you need that the person they recommend knows what they are doing and really can do an excellent job.
It is possible to outsource work through websites like PeoplePerHour or Fiverr, which will be cheaper, but you must be aware that as with most things in life, you get what you pay for and you may have issues with things like people working in different time zones, English not being their first language or not being able to speak to the person you have hired in person.
For business success, it’s important to use more than just price as your basis for choosing who to outsource to.
Sarah Liddle is The Lady in the Shed. She is a virtual assistant specialising in marketing, admin and techie solutions for small businesses, a smallholder, a sheep farmer and a farm bygones dealer. She loves supporting small business owners to do whatever they do by enabling them to use their time more effectively.