Your 2013 Guide To Outsourcing For Small Businesses

Your 2013 Guide To Outsourcing For Small Businesses

Small businesses are in constant need of manpower, in order to survive and win. It’s not feasible to hire people all the time, to manage the work load and the related processes. It makes sense to outsource certain tasks, sooner or later. The question is, what to outsource, to whom, and how to stay in control?

Consider What You Can Outsource

Identify the aspects that you’d want to outsource. These can be repetitive daily tasks such as bookkeeping and accounting, or even a core aspect such as IT.

  • Start Small: For example, payroll administration, background verification, bookkeeping, content-writing, web designing, programming, virtual assistant tasks and so on are commonly outsourced.
  • Start Smart:Initially, it would be best to come to terms with outsourcing, its ways and legalities before you outsource core aspects of your business. Remember to use outsourcing as a way to increase your bottom-line while keeping investment down. It’s not a method to get out of something you don’t want to do.
  • Evaluate Your Strengths and Values: Identify your core competencies and capabilities; you must be the best in those areas, so outsourcing is out of the question. You do need to be in control of your business, so identify time-consuming and not-so-critical tasks to outsource first. For example, if your company is into developing niche web applications, it would be a mistake to outsource anything to do with product design or purpose.

Evaluate Your Needs

Do you need several people to manage your project / tasks, or would a single contractor do? Evaluate the work aspects you want to outsource and how much time they’ll require per day. If a few hours a day will do, look for independent contractors. However, please note that with individual contractors, you’ll have to invest time to monitor their work and review their results. If you need more than one person, it’s best to tie up with an outsourcing company who’ll be responsible to see that your performance standards are met.

Consider The Right Time To Outsource

The right time to outsource can be right at the beginning for some companies and well after a few years for some. For example, if you have in-house staff to manage all your tasks and projects, you don’t need to outsource. However, if you have new projects in the pipeline and your staff’s already taken up, you’ll need to consider outsourcing. Also, consider outsourcing if certain tasks are taking up too much valuable employee time, such as administrative tasks.

Find The Right Contractor

Look up reliable freelance job marketplaces such as elance.com, odesk.com, guru.com and so on for the right contractor.Evaluate the ratings contractors have been given by previous clients, and also look up the contractors’ detailed profiles on LinkedIn and other professional sites. Look for personal referrals among your network as well – this way, you can avoid paying the fee that job marketplaces expect. You can also approach consultants who’ll map your needs with professional contractors and set you up with the right individual or company. If you need consultation, management and work outsourced, look for outsourcing companies who provide end-to-end services.

Identify The Performance Metrics For Your Tasks

Have a clear, open talk with your contractor about the performance metrics you expect from them. Discuss everything in fine detail – quality, speed, delivery schedules, and timelines and so on. Also talk about reporting guidelines, so that your contractors know whom to contact and when to contact.

Communicate Your Expectations

Your contractors won’t be thinking along the same lines as you. If the work gets screwed up, there’s no point in blaming them, as your instructions may not have been clear enough. Lay out your requirements and expectations right at the beginning. Leave nothing to assumption. There will be a learning curve on the contractor’s side, so make allowances for it. Once you’ve communicated your expectations, sit back and let the contract do their bit. A bit of trust goes a long way.

You need to save time on management attention, or there’s no point in outsourcing at all. Use motivational incentives so that your contractor focuses on doing your tasks the way you want them done. Most freelancers tend to have set ideas about how things are done. You cannot get them to be totally cohesive with your thinking the way employees can be. You have to outline exactly what you want, to the last detail.

Watch The Legalities

When you’ve found the right candidate for your outsourcing, whether it’s an individual or another company, try them out with small tasks first. Draft a detailed proposal, to ensure there are no misunderstandings. It’s best to consult a lawyer before you send out the contract. Start with a small-period contract first, say, 3 months. Extend the contract only after you’re completely satisfied. Maintain an ongoing review process with your contractor so that both of you are on the same page.

Christopher Misoni manages several successful eCommerce ventures by implementing landing page optimization and conversion rate optimization techniques for his business, and recommends them for others.

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