If you run a business, there’s no doubt that you’ve at least toyed with the idea of outsourcing some of your work to another person, business owner, or agency. Outsourcing makes a lot of sense for many companies, both large and small, but if you don’t know where to start, outsourcing can just feel like more work that you don’t have time to do. In our guide to outsourcing, we want to help you feel confident on passing off some of the most important aspects of your business operation to an outside source. Having a plan and a system for moving information is the most important part, but there are other things to consider as well. Make the most of your time with outsourcing and you’ll be glad you did.
Figure Out the Ask
One of the first things you need to do if you are considering outsourcing is to figure out what tasks need to be completed. Outsourcing is not just about handing off your day-to-day work to another person or agency, it’s about optimizing your approach and operation, if possible. By starting with your “ask”, or the task list of things that need to be done, you can decide what you want to remain doing yourself, and what you want to not only enhance, but pass off. It doesn’t make sense to pass off all the things you just don’t want to do; it makes more sense to hire outside help that will improve your company and help you have more time.
Create an Onboarding Process
Many times, companies hire outside agencies to come in and run their IT departments or to be a consultant for the HR department, when really, your company needs to set the tone for how it will interact with these outside agencies. Don’t just expect them to come in and start working. They need to learn a lot about your operation in order to help. They will have their own system for bringing information to their side of the table, but your organization has to take responsibility for how they will interact with that information. What will you provide? What will you expect the agency to provide? How will you work together? What is the expected outcome? It’s never a good idea to automate or outsource just so you can have more time at the beach. You’re not hiring people to run your company – you’re hiring people or agencies to make your company run better.
Have a Measurement System
Whenever you consider bringing in outside resources to help you run and eventually grow your business, you want to think about how you are going to measure the return on your investment. The last time we checked, it costs money to hire people, so you need to make sure that you are spending your outsourcing dollars wisely. A good rule of thumb with this is if the outsourcing frees you up to do other revenue-generating things. Again, it’s not about making more time in the day for coffee shops and shopping – you want to free up your time to make more money! Measuring the success of external help can take on many forms, but the easiest way to take the temperature of this new relationship and as the relationship evolves over time is if more of your time is spent earning more money. If you run a small operation and have only a few employees who are wearing many hats, bringing in an outside source to take on IT, accounting, and even marketing, means that your remaining staff have time to focus on bigger things. And that’s money well spent.
Give it Time
When it comes to outsourcing, you might have to take two or three kicks at the can in order to find the right type of outsourcing solution for your needs. You might find, as many business owners do, that what they thought they needed in the beginning is not what they need as the relationship develops. It’s okay to go in a different direction, but give these things time to see where the gaps are and make informed decisions about how to move forward. If you are nervous about hiring someone full-time, outsourcing for a short period of time will help you identify how you use your time and will allow you to make better decisions about where you need the help. Be ready to be wrong when it comes to the kind of help you think you need: outsourcing needs to be flexible, just like your business. As it changes, so will your needs. Be patient with the process and whatever solution you decide to implement to help your outsourcing experience be a success.