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Business Growth

Great resources for outsourcing

When business owners find themselves overwhelmed and overworked, it’s time to get effective reliable resources to assist.  Reality is, you can’t do it all by yourself.  The following article has some great resources on how and why to do that. 

April 3, 2012

Some businesses can handle normal daily activities but need outside help to take on new projects that don’t justify another employee. Other businesses are just struggling to manage day-to-day business. Still others are seeking ways to get more done or cut expenses in this challenging economy.

There are many valid reasons to consider outsourcing, but here are some of the most compelling.

  • Focus on core business activities. For many businesses, the primary motivation to outsource is that it frees owners, managers and employees to spend their time on income generating activities.
  • Improve opportunities for growth. Frequently opportunities for company growth and a desire to expand business operations exist, but resources to make it happen are lacking.
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness. In many cases, outsourcing allows access to expert talent. Outsource service firms can offer innovative approaches, the latest technology, and creative, cutting-edge solutions that otherwise aren’t available.
  • Improve your bottom line by decreasing your expenses. A skilled contractor or firm can generally perform work less expensively than a full-time employee can, and the costs of hiring, training, and maintaining employees are eliminated, as are taxes and benefits.

Here’s what you can, and should, be outsourcing.

1. Administrative tasks. Scheduling, travel arrangements, data entry, typing and other administrative tasks can usually be handled by a virtual assistant or administrative service. While these tasks are crucial to the proper functioning of any business, they are not usually core business activities.

Where to find help: Assistant MatchAssistU and IVAA help match businesses with screened administrative service providers and offer directories of professionally trained virtual assistants.

2. Lead generation and customer service. Sales calls are often a matter of numbers; more calls equal more sales and leads. Once the initial outreach has been made, closing the sale can be handled by the internal sales force. A talented salesperson’s skills can be better utilized to close sales and handle clients, rather than make cold calls. It can also be a great deal more efficient to outsource customer support than it is to maintain a qualified support staff, especially for product-based companies.

Where to find help: Global Response and The Connection are recognized sales and customer service providers to many of the world’s top brands. Resource Nation allows companies to get quotes from pre-screened business solution sources.

3. Accounting and financial duties. Accounting firms or individuals can help with many financial services including bookkeeping, invoicing and accounts payable and receivable, as well as financial reporting, analysis and planning. Outsourcing payroll processing alone can save considerable hours, headaches and dollars. Many financial contractors will bundle these tasks for even greater savings.

Where to find help: BookkeepingHelp is a popular source of experienced financial professionals. This is one area to be very careful when outsourcing. It’s a good idea to check with certifying organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs or American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

4. Marketing. Effective marketing determines how both brand and company reputation are perceived in the marketplace. A marketing firm or consultant can often provide an outside perspective that an internal marketing staff cannot. Professional freelance writers can develop higher-quality, polished content that will improve marketing efforts. Website design, brand development, press releases and online marketing duties such as social media, blogging and search engine optimization are good candidates for outsourcing as well.

Where to find help: Guru and Elance are two of the best-known sources of freelance contractors. They cover many areas of outsourcing, but excel in the areas of writing and design.

5. IT operations. It can be extremely expensive to handle IT operations in-house. The average business has limited ability and knowledge to manage all of its IT needs. Unless you’re an IT company, IT is a maintenance and repair function, not a core business activity. The potential advantages of outsourcing IT tasks are enormous.

Where to find help: CrossLoop and Tech Guru both offer access to full spectrum of IT remote services.

6. Human resources. Employee acquisition and human resource functions can easily be administered by an outside agency. Outside firms are more skilled at advertising, screening suitable applicants and checking references. Using an HR or employment service to manage employee benefits can also be wise, since they must stay up to date on the latest employment laws and standards.

Where to find help: Ceridian and Trinet are both well-known HR service providers offering a wide range of resources from recruitment to payroll to benefits administration.

Final word

Often, the best way to locate high-quality outsourcing prospects is through recommendations from your professional network. A referral from someone you know and trust is a much more reliable gauge of quality and is usually based on the level of skill and not simply the cheapest cost. Professional groups or associations and LinkedIn can also be great sources.

Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at GuardWife.com and Twitter.com/RoyaleScuderi.

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5 Surefire Ways to Ensure Business Longevity

The certificate hanging my office wall says I’ve been in business 10 years, and I wonder how that can be? 

Imagine 10 years of being my own boss, of learning to market my business better, of disciplining myself to spend time on the tasks that matter most, and of helping clients live their dreams – priceless.  And although there were a few times I wondered if I should go back to get a “real” job, I realize that my work is the most real  and truest work I’ll ever get to using my skills and bringing me joy – I am truly blessed to be a successful Coach and business owner.  

Reflecting on where my clients have come from, I begin to see patterns and similarities, and can see what works and what doesn’t to grow a six figure business.

1) Be Ready.  Being self employed means having the liberty to run an errand or stop at the market between client appointments.  But, at those times, don’t let your guard down, keep your business owners hat on.  Keep looking for opportunities to share your professional face.  I’ve gotten business while grocery shopping, booked a new client being on the massage table and scheduled speaking gigs visiting the chiropractor.  Opportunities for business are all around you so don’t get caught without your business cards, your appointment calendar, and looking professional and polished for your type of work.     
 
2) Be on the lookout for places to contribute.  Is your local Chamber of Commerce looking for a new member on their board?  Does the annual town festival need someone on their planning committee?  When you contribute, you get known in your community and you build a reputation. The networking groups I started and ran were a big boost to putting me in the spotlight, enhanced my credibility and connected me with exponential opportunities.  Put yourself out there where you will value contributing and making a difference. 

3) Be aware that not every offer is an opportunity.  Although this may contradict my earlier statement, be careful not to say YES to everything that comes along.  Protecting your time as a business owner is critical to your success.  Ask yourself if by agreeing to become involved will get you exposed to your target market. Will the role be something you love to do and that uses your talents while showing you as an expert?  Take in consideration the other demands of your life outside of work.  While helping to care for my Dad who had Alzheimer’s, I stepped down from some community involvement.  Be aware that burnout is very real for small business owners and protect yourself from over committing, or you’ll find yourself backed up with work to do and feeling overwhelmed.

4) Say yes to opportunities whenever possible.  When I collaborated with a colleague and gave a seminar on FACE BOOK, I was not the Facebook expert, but I was an expert trainer and my colleague had never done a live seminar.  Together we gave a terrific training seminar, a smashing success.  And the reason to say yes whenever possible is because one thing leads to another.  At that training, a participant asked if I could do LINKEDIN training for his organization.  While pretty familiar with LinkedIn, I did not think of myself as an expert.  I said YES and brought in another colleague who was an expert that led to the two of us having a 6 month contract of LINKEDIN training for a Fortune 500 company that doubled our income on the spot.  I focused on teaching what I do best; identifying a company brand and strategic visioning  while my colleague focused on the details of using LinkedIn.  By the end of the 6 months, I was an expert on how to use LinkedIn, and exponentially wealthier because I said YES.  

5) Always have a Mentor, Coach or be involved in a Mastermind Group.  The challenges of undertaking any new venue, whether growing a business, backpacking for a week in Colorado or learning how to do Asian cooking means you have to rely on others to guide you and show you the way. Trying to figure out the best ways to grow your business by yourself is like jumping into a river of swift current without a life jacket on – risky stuff.  The money I’ve invested in my business over 10 years has allowed me to get to the place of security and knowledge I have now, where I can be a leader and role model to other entrepreneurs.

While I could go on and one with more methods, I’d love to hear yours. Reading books has added to my toolkit of success strategies, books like Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and Michael Gerber’s the E-Myth.  What is a book you’ve learned from or a success strategy you can share that has kept you sustaining your business for the long run?   Send your thoughts to me at jane@janemorrison.com and have a motivating day!

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