Outsourcing can be a real god send for small business owners who are aiming desperately to grow faster while keeping a tightly sealed lid on their cost base. With globalization now a stark and practical reality, just about everything that a small business might need done – from admin and IT to finance and sales can be outsourced.
The advantages of outsourcing stretch beyond mere the obvious cost savings. It’s possible to save quite a bit on outsourcing a task rather than hiring a full time member of staff. Taking on employees on the books means a small business potentially having to pay not only the employees salary but also stumping up National Insurance plus other employment related expenses such as holiday and sick pay. Other big advantages of outsourcing include the ability to hire a dedicated specialist to get a specific job done, and in freeing up the time of key staff members (possibly yourself) to do more valuable profit inducing work.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your outsourcing efforts:
- Know where to outsource. There are plenty of options for outsourcing specific tasks, or departments – one of the most reliable outsourcing sites is Elance – where you can hire freelance professionals and companies to work on everything from site design to content marketing. Other notable options include Freelancer and Odesk.
- Know precisely what you require from an outsourcing task. This should include specific, clearly defined tasks and objective, measurable deliverables. Volume and time should be stated when you talk to any potential outsource provider. Never assume the outsourcing company or individual knows what you want or need – the more information you provide, the less room for ambiguity and a fuzzy, botched service.
- Evaluate and compare potential freelancers. If you were going to hire someone as an employee for your business, you would most probably ask a ton of questions, and cross check their credentials and references – you should do the same for any freelancers or outsourcing providers you’re considering taking on. Most freelancers will have a portfolio of achievements and projects they have worked on for past clients. Check these to see if there are any similarities to the work you need done. Ideally, you’re looking for someone who’s done an excellent job in the past for the same work that you need done.
- Go for value rather than price. The cheapest option is rarely the best option. Instead try and pick out providers who will deliver value. This means choosing a freelancer with proven competencies as highlighted by past jobs showcased on their portfolios, excellent references and a fair price to see the job through.
- Test the waters before outsourcing critical tasks. Your ultimate aim might be to outsource entire swathes of your operations. That’s fine, however always start small and test an outsourcing company with a smaller job before awarding them huge projects to manage. You’ll get a better idea of their abilities, reliability, style and whether you can work with them on an ongoing basis.
- Get everything in writing. While most hirers and service providers usually start off with the best possible intentions, it’s all to easy for subtle yet critical nuances to get lost in verbal translation. Your payments should be linked to clearly measurable milestones, and all key project goals must be written down – including post project support where appropriate.