What Is Outsourcing And What You Should Think About Before You Do It

Outsourcing is the process of hiring another individual or company, to handle particular business activities for you. It can, in the long term, save you both time and money, but before you look at getting someone in to do the work, it is important to make sure that it is something that is worthwhile for your business.

Five questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is it something you enjoy?
  • Do you have the time to do it yourself?
  • Do you have the skills to do it yourself?
  • Do you absolutely need to be involved in that particular task?
  • Can it be automated at all?

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If you have answered ‘no’ to all or any of those questions, then outsourcing is definitely something you should be looking into. You want your business to grow as quickly as you can, and by outsourcing certain tasks, you can focus on what you can and need to do. Don’t just outsource for the sake of it, or because others do. Think about what will work for your business.

Before you commit to outsourcing, do a little bit of research. Find out what onerous tasks are draining your time. Use a worktracker, such as Harvest for a few weeks. At the end of a month, or a set period of time, you can see exactly how long you or your employees have spent on tasks. Even if you hate doing a task, if you only spend an hour on it a week, is it really worth outsourcing? You’ll spend more time organizing and managing it, not to mention the potential cost, than it’s worth.

Consider outsourcing any activity that fits into the following criteria:

  • Something you are not well known for - if you are a software designer, don’t outsource the software design. That’s your thing, that’s the foundation of your business.
  • Something that isn’t your forte - no one can be good at everything. When it comes to creating a functioning website, you will need a plethora of skills to pull it off. This is something that can have a huge impact on your business, so it is worth calling in the professionals. You could use Mango Matter Media to help you out with the design of your website and marketing in one. Remember to think about other aspects such as SEO so that professionals like these are able to incorporate this into their work.
  • Something that you don’t enjoy - ok, so sometimes, we all have to carry out tasks that we don’t enjoy, but if it is something that you really hate, then it is worth giving to someone else so you can focus on something that you do enjoy. 

Once you have settled on a task to outsource, there are further things to consider.

  • Do you need to outsource the entire task? If you have a blog, for example, as part of your business and you enjoy writing it, can they do the social media promotion for it? Can they collect the ideas and do the research so you can focus on the actual content?
  • Have you outlined exactly what you want? It’s all well and good giving the task away to someone, but will their produced work fit in with what you want? If you were to say, outsource someone to write for your website, have you mentioned that they need to include the use of SEO so that it fits in with your website design? Perhaps you could mention to your web design company that you’re needing on point SEO to fit with the content you’re planning on publishing.
  • What will you communicate what they need to do? Make sure your instructions are explicit and clear. There is no point giving a wishy-washy instruction such as ‘design a website for me’. You’ll spend more time going backwards and forwards clarifying, asking for changes and sorting out problems than it is worth. Make sure your outside source knows from the onset exactly what you are wanting them to do. It might take time to start with, but it will save time (and money!) in the long term.
  • Are you going to hire an agency or a solo freelancer? Agencies have more staff, covering a broader range of skills. If one person is off, there is someone else that may be able to take over the work. However, you pay extra for this. Freelancers may be cheaper, but they will possibly have to balance you with other clients. You need to weigh up which works better for you and your business.
  • How will you communicate? Communication is absolutely essential.  From the outset, you need to decide on a method of communication (email, telephone, face to face meetings) and how often you want to discuss the work or be kept up to date. It is also vital that both you and they keep a record of what is going on. Tools such as Trello or Asana can be useful for this.  

As long as you make sure you are outsourcing only what is necessary, find the right agency or person and communicate clearly at every step of the way, outsourcing should help you run your business much more effectively.

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