Outsourcing is a Business Tool
A little while ago, we posted a conversation about business owner fatigue or burnout and how it negatively affects productivity. We revealed that one of our top tips to avoid burnout and increase your time in the Zone of Excellence was to outsource some tasks to other people.
Outsourcing is traditionally defined as hiring someone to perform a service or create/build a product for your business. In recent years, outsourcing commonly meant going overseas to get the work done. For this article, we’ll use it as shorthand for “hiring a contractor, business, or vendor outside your company” regardless of where they are located.
Outsourcing can be an incredibly effective business tool, but it can be tricky to determine which parts of your business are right for it. Where does outsourcing fit? Let’s look at some possible benefits of outsourcing.
Outsource repetitive tasks that are time-consuming but important:
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Administration, scheduling, replying to voicemails and emails
- Human resource management and payroll processing
- Generic requests for information, marketing inquiries
- Mail and delivery services
- Outsource tasks requiring learning a new skill outside your Zone of Excellence:
a. Social media metrics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
b. Video production and editing
c. Writing blogs, technical documents or marketing materials
d. Government regulations (like IRS or SEC)
Whenever you outsource work, be sure to provide comprehensive descriptions of the work you expect them to do and have an attorney review all your contracts. You should include a way to monitor and measure their output to ensure that they are successful in performing the work. Wise business owners know that hiring experts to perform work is a time-saving and cost-effective way to operate.
What’s the Flip Side?
Outsourcing work is a valuable business tool that can save you time and money. But there are roles in your organization that we recommend you keep in-house. These include:
- Customer service
a. Maintain direct control over the process
b. Protect the “face” of your organization
c. Ensure your customer has the experience you want them to have
d. Obtaining feedback from customers may be limited (Voice of the Customer)
e. Managing public perceptions
a. Manage the message
b. Monitor the arch and reach of your investment
c. Maintain the Five “P”s
d. Set metrics and ensure your results signify the success of your campaigns
e. React quickly to marketing failures; recover your image
3. Anything you don’t understand
a. Although this seems counter to the argument we made for outsourcing, it’s different.
b. These are jobs that are outside your Zone of Excellence but don’t rise to the level of needing to be included in the zone.
c. You don’t know what you don’t know, but don’t do it until you vet – or qualify – the vendor
How Do I Qualify a Vendor?
This process does not have to be frustrating, nor should it cost you a lot of time and money. Your first step is to reach out to your network – someone will know someone – “I got a guy…”. Get their advice – even if you pay a consulting fee, it’s worth it – and you’ll avoid costly mistakes. Here is an example:
You need to hire a videographer, but you don’t know anything about video creation, editing or production. Find someone in your network who has used a videographer before and ask them to sit in on a couple of interviews with you. Their previous experience should offer clues as to how skilled each candidate is. You could offer an in-kind gift or dinner for their time and advice.