One of the challenges of running a small business successfully is the demand of being competent, current and on top of details in every area of the enterprise. You found a business in order to deliver a product or service that, most likely, represents your own expertise. And yet, small business owners routinely find themselves buried in tasks that are essential to running a business…but also time-consuming and often lay well outside their comfort zone.
The Advantages of Outsourcing for Small Business
In situations like this, outsourcing can be extremely valuable. The advantages of outsourcing can be many. They include:
- Time – By using an outsourcing service, you avoid having to spend inordinate amounts of time working on the area of your business being addressed by the outsourcing provider. Time is often the entrepreneur’s biggest challenge, so gaining some of it back is invaluable.
- Worry – When you work with an outsourcing partner that has a strong track record and proven expertise, you are able to set aside worries and concerns about compliance, missed deadlines, legal liabilities and regulatory issues.
- Focus – In partnering with an outsourced expert, you allow your focus to return to the core of the business and not get distracted or off-task by dealing with operational issues that are outside your core of expertise.
- Money – Most small businesses cannot afford to hire full-time personnel or entire teams for every core business function. Outsourcing allows you to hire a fractional expert or a partial team so that you can gain access to the expertise you need at a much lower cost, and bridge the gap between do-it-yourself on the one hand, and hire-full-time on the other hand.
- Team – Finally, working with the right outsourcing partner enables you to bring expertise to the table that you can bounce ideas off of as you set the business toward its growth goals. Building a business is hard to pull off when you’re the only expert, so by outsourcing you give yourself access to a team of people you can partner with to make key decisions.
Best-Fit Opportunities for Small Business Outsourcing
Now that we’ve discussed some of the primary benefits that can come with outsourcing, let’s talk about the functions that could make the best candidates for outsourcing in your small business. Some of the ‘best fit’ options for outsourcing can include:
- Bookkeeping & Accounting – This is certainly a critical area to look at and a common priority for small businesses when it comes to outsourcing. Bookkeeping is a process that can often appear easy to perform, but it has to be performed correctly and precisely, each and every time. Accounting involves everything from reconciliation and review to financial reporting, and gives you the information and confidence you need to make financial decisions. Both of these lend themselves naturally to an outsourced partnership.
- Payroll & Benefits – More and more companies are recognizing that administering payroll and benefits in-house is becoming too complicated to reasonably handle accurately in a small business. As more laws and local ordinances are passed and standards for compliance increased, doing this right now takes longer than before and more knowledge. Today, digital providers can easily manage the payroll function for your entire team and often, benefit management support can come along as well.
- HR Compliance – Along with sending out paychecks on time and making sure employee benefits are covered, there is a whole realm of additional compliance matters that can overwhelm even a very sophisticated and knowledgeable small business owner. This is especially true for small firms that have contingent, seasonal or flexible workers as well as 1099 subcontractors. All of these require classification, monitoring and management along with your FTEs. In addition to hiring an HR outsourcing firm to assist, you can also consider taking the ‘deep dive’ and hiring a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), which can actually serve as a co-employer for your team.
- Marketing – In a previous era, most small businesses concentrated their marketing on a few simple areas — primarily print advertising and, if relevant, a yellow pages listing. Today’s world is completely different, since digital communication is now the predominant channel for marketing, especially for small businesses. As a result, this means that good marketing takes more time since it’s built on a foundation of writing and publishing high-quality content, and then sharing it via email, social media and other formats. As a result, marketing today is an ideal function to outsource to an expert partner.
- Legal – It is probably true that most small business owners would definitely see an attorney for a clear legal matter such as the threat of a lawsuit or a major legal liability claim. However, the challenge here isn’t so much to see a lawyer on those rare occasions when you absolutely must do so, but rather to develop an ongoing relationship with an attorney who can help you and your business proactively. Instead of just talking once a year, you really need to engage with your attorney regularly so that she or he is up-to-date and in sync with you on things such as trademarks, contracts, employment matters, government contracting compliance, and more. To do this, consider finding an attorney who can provide an ongoing monthly retainer in return for regular consultations and proactive assistance with your business legal needs.
- Technology – Last but not least, technology is a business function that absolutely demands high-quality outsourcing, both in terms of the people side and in terms of the technology itself. Your small business IT team should provide high-quality, customized advice to your business and proven expertise serving other firms in your industry or market segment. In addition, the technology itself should (in most cases) be cloud-hosted, highly flexible and easily administered and backed up. From desktop support and application updates to IT security and data protection, technology is a top priority to consider for your outsourcing strategy.
Outsourcing is popular and growing rapidly because it provides compelling benefits to small business owners, and allows them to solve business challenges in areas that are outside their own personal expertise. Evaluate potential outsourcing partners in each of these areas and develop a partnership in each case that works best for your business, both today and in the long term.
Image Credit: Horasis (Flickr @ Creative Commmons)