The rise of the gig economy and increasingly easy access to freelancers and companies who can take over the non-core functions in your business has had a massive impact on the way we do business. But how do you know which functions you should keep in-house, and where might using an expert outside of the company really save you time and money? While the answers vary for each individual business, there are a few general guidelines that might help you spot areas you should, and shouldn’t, outsource.
Tasks that are taking time away from your main business function
As a rule, you should spend as much of your time in the office each day dealing with the aspects of your field where you’re an expert, and that no-one else can deal with as effectively as you can. This gives you more time to stay abreast of the changes which could affect your industry and less time dealing with admin that doesn’t directly add value to your company. All businesses outsource at least some of their functions – such as dealing with taxes, management of their office property or insurance.
This is one of the trickier areas when it comes to outsourcing, as you do need to remain involved at least to a certain extent with the process. Your brand image is something you want to be in control of at the end of the day – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of experts to assist you with the nitty-gritty and behind-the-scenes aspects. It can be a bit of a balancing act, but a good digital marketing firm or freelancer will be able to guide and direct you without you feeling like you’re out of the loop. This way you can have a say in what content goes out under your name, for example, without having to worry about things like SEO, keyword research and managing social media campaigns.
2. Industry-relevant cost saving opportunities
Every business has different needs and overheads, and we’re all looking to reduce our running costs. Take a look at your biggest expenses, and take the time to find out if there are agencies or firms that can help you reduce these. If the nature of your business involves the use of a lot of water, for example, it can massively beneficial to work with a provider who can help you reduce your monthly municipal bills. The same might go for banking or finance products that are more applicable to your needs – finding the right partners to outsource to is just as important as knowing which areas to outsource in the first place.
3. Legal and accounting functions
Unless you’re in the legal field yourself, the chances that your small business can afford an in-house legal team are pretty remote. Thankfully, this is one area where technology has given startups a huge helping hand in the form of providers and platforms aimed directly at the small business. Whether it’s paying a small monthly fee in exchange for legal services when you require them, or the ability to purchase legal contracts and documents from an online vendor, there are now plenty of options.
The same goes for bookkeeping and accounting functions, where cloud-based accounting packages or a reliable freelance bookkeeper (or a combination of these) can make your life a lot easier come tax season.
4. Tedious administrative tasks
When you’re trying to remain competitive, spending your life doing admin that anyone could manage is extremely wasteful. But if your business is still very small and you don’t have the resources to hire an in-house clerk full time, virtual assistants can be a godsend. If you only require a small amount of admin, then working with a freelancer who can dedicate one or two hours a day to dealing with general emails, documentation and electronic filing can free up your time to do what you do best. If you need a more full-on service, then there are even virtual assistant agencies that can step in to help and are surprisingly cost-effective.
5. When not to outsource
Your focus should always be on growing your business, and it’s important not to outsource the things that make your company great in the first place. It can be tempting to outsource a function that we don’t particularly enjoy, for example, but are actually the best person for the job. As a rule, if an aspect of your business is profitable and brings in substantial revenue, then you shouldn’t be outsourcing it.