If building a business is challenging, sustaining growth can be just as daunting. Over the past year, businesses across the board have had to learn to adapt to an unpredictable economic environment.
Most business owners at some point must decide whether or not to expand their existing operations in order to meet expectations for growth within the market.
The past several months have underscored the importance of making a smart decision. During a time of economic uncertainty, is it possible to scale for growth while increasing revenue?
The answer is yes.
Adapting by Outsourcing
When strategically deployed, outsourcing non-core tasks to third-party specialists allows you to focus your time and skills on higher-yield core activities.
That, in turn, optimizes both efficiency and scalability – allowing you to invest in business growth and income generation. Outsourcing offers multiple benefits:
Paying permanent staff salaries and benefits can get expensive. Bringing in third-party specialists on an as-needed basis saves money, time, and other resources.
Minimizes staffing issues
Outsourcing minimizes or eliminates employer obligations like onboarding, training, coaching, benefits, and other supports.
Gives access to a broader talent pool
Outsourcing allows you to tap into a talent pool with a variety of specialized skill sets to precisely align with your needs.
Diversifies your geographic footprint
Offshore outsourcing can not only give you access to a wider talent pool: it also establishes your business presence internationally.
Are You Ready?
If you’re exceeding your established business goals, seeing a steady cash flow from repeatable sales, but you’re turning down potential opportunities because your in-house team simply can’t take on the extra work - it’s time to scale.
Outsourcing will allow you to expand your capacity without having to onboard and train new staff, invest in new equipment, lease more space, or increase your overhead.
For small businesses primed and ready to scale, outsourcing is a no-brainer.
What Should You Outsource?
The best candidates for outsourcing are the time-consuming, non-core tasks that don’t directly contribute to the bottom line – but often benefit from specialized expertise. This could include website development, customer service, online marketing, inventory management, or even human resources processes.
Social media, web traffic, content development, and search engine marketing are now essential tools for any business. Find a third party with the right expertise, clearly communicate your vision – and let them get to work.
Most companies now rely on the internet to conduct business. Safeguarding your network, data, hardware, and software is essential - so finding an outsourced partner to protect this part of your business should be a priority.
Bookkeeping and accounting can be a headache, yet they’re business essentials. Keeping them in-house can result in lost core productivity – impacting your bottom line. Offload to a third party to relieve the headache, increase productivity, and generate bottom-line savings.
Outsourcing Best Practices
Be Clear About Project Requirements
Establish project requirements upfront. Give contractors clear and detailed information about the work that needs to be delivered, how you want it done, and when you want it completed.
Draw up a contract to ensure both parties understand and agree on the requirements and conditions of the partnership.
Find the Right Fit
Whether you choose to go the freelancer or agency route, be sure that the service provider has the skills and experience required to meet your project specifications. This is particularly important in the case of projects involving the development of complex software.
The Portfolio is Important
Do a careful review of the vendor’s prior work to ensure it matches your expectations for both quality and style. Check their references. If you’re still uncertain, ask them to do a mock-up or a basic work plan outline.
Don’t Shop the Bargain Basement
It’s not just a saying: you get what you pay for. Experienced outsource buyers say that their most successful projects are performed by vendors who offer a balance of good value and quality results.
Ease Into It
If it’s your first time working with the service provider, begin with a small, non-critical project to get a sense of their style and expertise.
Agree on a work plan with clear milestones. Scheduling regular “check-ins” allows you to review project progress and helps ensure that the final product will meet your expectations and be completed on deadline. Tie payments to the milestones.
A good rule of thumb for software development and other IT projects: pay a maximum of 20% to 30% of the project’s total cost upfront, with the remainder paid out as milestones.
Be sure that both parties understand and agree on who owns the finished product and any of its important components. Ensure that the service provider is clear on the intended use of the work they have agreed to deliver.
Safeguard Security and Intellectual Property
Confidentiality, security, and intellectual property rights are growing concerns in the business world.
Before sealing the outsourcing deal, it’s important for both parties to discuss these issues and include relevant points in the contract. This should outline specific consequences should intellectual property rights be compromised.
Put It in Writing
If the outsourced task is one that’s likely to be repeated, have the initial contractor prepare a manual that outlines the steps involved in completing the task. This will act as an SOP manual for any future work.
Build a virtual office
Though you likely won’t be sharing your workspace with your outsourced specialist, it’s important that you stay connected. Establish a digital hub built around communication apps and project management tools. This will keep all parties up to speed and allow for a seamless operation. And ideally, that operation will play a significant role in your scaling strategy.
Smart businesses are discovering that a mix of good planning, flexibility, and fact-based decision-making allows them to maintain momentum and continue to move forward, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Finding the right outsourcing match takes work. But investing the effort now will pay off down the road. It will allow you to focus your energies on your unique company strengths – and ultimately you’ll see your business grow.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of business tools and resources. He is also the author of ‘How We Did It: 100 Entrepreneurs Share The Stories Of Their Struggles And Life Experiences’.