If you’re a small business owner, we can pretty much guess that you wear (at least) 9,000 hats every day. Maybe it’s because you feel that you don’t have the budget to hire anyone to take some things off your plate, or maybe you’re one of those business owners who can’t let anything go because there’s no way anyone else will ever care about it as much as you do. Others think they can probably just do the work, and even if it’s not perfect, it can’t be that hard. Sound familiar?
Well, research from the American Psychological Association shows that when you multitask, or manage multiple projects at once, you can experience a 40 percent drop in productivity. Your projects take longer to complete, and you increase your overall stress levels.
Also, most small businesses usually start out with little or no overhead. But let’s be real, expenses build up a lot faster than revenue in the beginning. We’re not saying you should increase expenses unnecessarily by outsourcing tasks you’re capable of accomplishing, but the fact is, some areas require more expertise than you probably have.
(Brief pause for the nobody-can-do-it-better-than-me guy to have a good silent scream.)
As a small business owner, you can find good help by turning to freelancers or small firms as a less expensive source of assistance, and their expertise can help you realize that maybe you’re spending money in the wrong areas, or the amount of time it takes you (or an inexperienced employee) to do something is costing you way more in the long run. Before you hire one or more full-time employees to take over specialized tasks, consider outsourcing as a more cost effective alternative.
You don’t need to outsource everything, especially if you really are trained in a specific area, but we’ve put together a list of 5 areas we think would serve the average business owner well to outsource.
1. Accounting & Bookkeeping
This is a big one. If we had to choose one thing to tell you to outsource, this would probably be it. It’s really important to leave accounting to a professional. Having an administrative assistant or someone else handle accounting who isn’t well versed or trained in software or basic accounting rules is like playing roulette with your finances. When handling the finances for your business, you really can’t afford to make mistakes, and outsourcing is a great way to prevent that.
An experienced freelancer or accounting firm can save you a lot of money in the long run because they know what pitfalls to avoid and what tactics can be beneficial. If you’re a business owner trying to manage your own payroll, for example, and you’re not familiar with tax regulations and requirements, you could have a lot of issues or fines down the line with the IRS which can be more costly than simply hiring a professional.
2. Market Research & Branding
Market research is extremely important to the growth of any company. In-depth research on your industry or target audience can provide your business with important information for current and future strategies. Outsourcing this to an experienced individual or firm and having them build a set of customer profiles can help you make more informed decisions about your branding and marketing.
It’s almost impossible for business owners to view their business from an outside perspective, and so often they make branding decisions based on personal preferences and not market research. Basically, as a business owner, you’re too close to your business to see it the way others do. When you live in your business every single day and know the ins and outs of your industry and, it’s hard for you to know what an audience who has no previous knowledge about your business wants or needs to hear. So, enter the professionals!
3. Social Media Marketing
In 2018 there are so many different social platforms to choose from and each of them requires a lot of attention, so outsourcing social media can be invaluable to business owners. Professionals can develop a strategy, write strong content, and building up your following. Social media experts can give you a huge bang for your buck, helping you skip the expense of hiring someone full-time or taking other employees away from their job to do something they’re not really good at. (If we see one more cat meme from Karen in accounting….)
Let’s just say you have a tech-savvy employee who you think can handle any IT issues that come up. That’s awesome, and not necessarily worst case scenario, but it’s definitely not best. If you outsource IT, technicians can fix issues faster and therefore save you money. But that’s not where the real savings are. A good IT company will help you put better systems in place to cut down on the number of issues you have in the first place, so your employees can get more done, without wasting company time waiting on the internet to work or an old computer to boot up. Also, IT companies can help you improve your data security, which minimizes your chances of experiencing a costly data breach. (You can read our blog to learn all about what a data breach can do to hurt a company’s reputation and, therefore, sales.)
5. HR / Staffing
Ooh, This is a good one. Everyone wants good employees, but how do you know who will be good and who is just really good at BS-ing their way through an interview? Not every business owner is experienced in hiring, so outsourcing HR to a professional can help your business attract great talent, weed through applicants to help you find the best fit, and also help you retain the good employees you already have.
Some mistakes in HR, made by someone who isn’t really trained in the field, can hurt employee retention and lead to costly fines. Leaving HR responsibilities in the hands of an employee who switches back and forth to HR on an as-needed or part-time basis, or who isn’t sufficiently trained in HR matters, can cost you dearly. Firms that specialize in compliance to HR regulations can be a huge asset to you to protect you from lawsuits or other unneeded expenses.
It may feel like HR isn’t an option for you as a small or medium-sized business owner. But even if you don’t have the budget to support a trained, full-time HR team, outsourcing tasks to an HR firm is a great idea that ultimately saves you money.
One misconception about handing off tasks to people is that it’s expensive and out of reach for small businesses. But, you don’t have to hire 6 new full-time employees to get these important tasks done the right way. You can outsource for a fraction of that cost. While there will be some cost associated with it, it won’t necessarily break the bank, and will often save you money in the long run.
There are a lot of areas you can outsource, but only you know which areas you need help with. Look at your finances, your team, your processes, and the work you are juggling yourself on a regular basis. And then really consider outsourcing the areas where you or your team struggle.
Simply said, outsource your weaknesses, so you can have the time to hone in on your strengths and kick booty at those.