Outsourcing is one of those "ugly" words that seem to frighten many small business owners. Often they fear that if they don't perform a certain tasks themselves that task won't be executed properly or because the have limited funds, are convinced that they cannot afford to outsource. Yet, each one of them are usually plagued with trying to get too much done at once, not focusing on activities that produce revenue or activities that systematize their business resulting in their business being stalled while they deal with the chaos they created.
Outsourcing is a good thing and when used correctly, will yield tremendous value in both the short term and long term. Here are 5 tips to effective outsourcing.
1. Know what to outsource and what not.
Take a look at what your strengths are and where you can add the most value to your business and look to outsource in areas where you know you are weak. Although it may cost you more in the beginning, the truth is if you do not have the time or expertise in that subject matter your learning curve will be long and add to your frustration and overall expense, for example: Bookkeeping, marketing, writing, product development and other tasks that require specialization. Other tasks to look at are those that are "robotic" or so simple anyone can do it, for example, link building, article and press release submission, proofreading, appointment setting.
2. Select the right outsource partner.
Make sure you do the due diligence to select the right partner. Spend the time discussing how you like to work, what you expect and how you like to be communicated with. You are in charge and need to set the tone for how you need to give and receive information. You want to ensure that you have a rapport with your partners so have a real conversation, not one from behind a computer and lastly, check references to get the observations of others.
3. Give clear direction and set clear expectations.
Be clear and specific in your communications to your outsource partner. Do not assume they know what you mean, or are coming from the same point of reference. Also, don't use "company jargon" or assume everyone has the same definition of terms. As with any business meeting, ensure that you have a meeting of the minds on what exactly you are looking for and what they understand the deliverable to be. In time, you and your partner will begin to work in lock and step together, but set the stage up front.
4. Systematize and automate when possible.
Small businesses often fail to record and systematize all of their processes. They fall into the manual trap of remembering to get things done or "it is on my to-do list" when it comes to certain critical tasks of the business. Be sure to create structured processes that can be systematize and automated wherever it makes sense. You want your business to grow beyond you and in order to do that, you have to put a formal structure in place so others can easily follow.
5. Inspect what you expect.
You are still in charge of the process so you want to "inspect what you expect' from your outsource partners similar to if they were employees on your team. Do not assume that everything is going along with no issues; make sure you put in the controls to test your systems periodically. Check for quality, pricing, turnaround time, efficiencies. Are your partners continually adding value and looking for ways to improve your business? If the answer is no, then find a new outsourcing partner.