This article is part of a series covering tools that help you run your small business like a large company. You can find the first article in the Scale and Upscale Your Business here, which will have live links to each installment.
As your small business grows, you may run into times when you need some extra help, but it’s not cost-effective to bring in a new employee or even temporary staff. Or, if you own a micro-business, you may simply realize that there are certain necessary but time-consuming tasks that you could assign to someone else.
“When – and What – Should I Outsource?”
It can be scary for a small business owner to outsource work to another company or a virtual assistant. It can be difficult to determine what to outsource, and what to do in-house. Fortunately, there’s plenty of advice from reputable sources to help you decide, sometimes from others who have been in your shoes. Of course there are some tasks that you likely do not want to outsource, things like:
- Work your company is known for – a computer repair service probably shouldn’t be outsourcing its technical services
- Anything else that is a core competency
- Are the savings worth it
- Tasks that have legal issues, for example, anything that would expose sensitive information to a third party
So when is it a good idea to outsource?
One Lifehacker article on outsourcing advises looking at three areas; whether the task is one you procrastinate, dread, or don’t do well. That may include tasks such as search engine optimization, graphic design, PPC marketing, certain social media activities, or simply rote or routine tasks such as data entry, research or appointment setting. Melinda Emerson, named by Forbe’s magazine as the number one woman entrepreneur to follow on Twitter, also lists five areas where small businesses should consider outsourcing, including marketing and administrative tasks.
Outsource or VA?
Often the next step after outsourcing is hiring a virtual assistant. It’s not for everyone, and some companies will go directly from outsourcing to hiring employees to work on certain activities in-house.
If you have a consistent demand for certain services, the job doesn’t require consistent or complicated training, can be done by a loosely supervised worker, and.or the work doesn’t need to be done in person, a virtual assistant may be the answer.
A virtual assistant may cost more than outsourcing individual tasks, but you’ll be working with the same person — one who may already be knowledgeable and not need as much training. In the next article in the series, we’ll have a list of outsourcing and virtual assistant services you can use to grow your business.
Flickr image courtesy of Victor1558.