When your small business is just starting out, you’ll inevitably be functioning as “chief cook and bottle washer,” doing everything from making sales calls to sweeping the floors at night. But as soon as you can afford to do so, you should consider outsourcing some of these duties to free up your time to generate more money. Here are five things a small business can outsource (and one thing you never should).
- Administrative tasks. Especially if you previously worked in a corporate environment where you had administrative assistants helping out, you’ll be surprised at how much of your day as an entrepreneur is spent on tedious tasks like scheduling appointments, sending follow-up emails or booking flights for business trips. Fortunately, this is also one of the easiest areas to outsource. A virtual assistant can handle many of these details for you for a reasonable hourly wage. Upwork, Zirtual and VirtualAssistants.com are three websites where you can look for virtual assistants.
- IT tasks. Unless your small business is in the technology industry, information technology (IT) probably isn’t your strong suit. Where do you turn when you’re trying to figure out the best software to use, deal with a computer problem or make sure your business network is secure from hackers? Outsourcing to an IT consultant is a smart move for most entrepreneurs. It’s always best if your IT expert is physically nearby, so ask other small business owners and professionals in your area for recommendations.
- Bookkeeping. Do you dread bookkeeping so much that you procrastinate on important things like invoicing customers, paying bills or filing your business taxes? Few small business owners actually enjoy accounting, and even those who do could often be more productive by spending time on other areas of the business. Fortunately, finding professionals in this field is easy. Check out GoodAccountants.com, which matches you with local accountants who work on a freelance basis, or PoweredBooks, which provides full-service bookkeeping and accounting.
- Designing and updating your website. Every small business needs a website, but not every small business owner has the time, energy or confidence to design and build one. Because your website is so important to your branding, it’s nice to be able to hand it off to website design experts that can create photos, graphics and copy just for your business. Look for an all-in-one website design and hosting service like Web.com that also handles monthly updates so you don’t have to.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Once your website is up and running, it needs to be optimized for search engines to find it. However, this isn’t a one-time task: With search engines constantly changing their algorithms, the rules of SEO change all the time, and your website needs to keep up. This is one area where calling in the experts not only saves you time but can exponentially increase your profits. Look for SEO experts that check for broken code, optimize your content and build links to boost your search results.
Last, but not least, here’s one thing you should never outsource: Your core competencies. If you own a bakery, don’t outsource baking; if you run an ecommerce website, don’t outsource selecting and buying your inventory. Your company’s core competency—the essential foundation of your business—should always be handled in-house. At the beginning, that means by you. As your business grows, you can delegate to someone on your team.
Remember that outsourcing doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility. No matter what you outsource, you should always maintain oversight of the process and have the final say on the results.