At Virtual Headquarters, we offer businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to outsource their telephone answering, call diverting, and assistant work. However, there’s a big world of services that allow you to outsource parts of your team’s workload and there are few who benefit more from it that the startup. If you’re finding your feet and you’re finding it difficult to get a grasp on all the responsibilities and processes your growing team has to handle, here are a few ways in which outsourcing can make sense for you.
Get back your time If there’s one thing that a startup business owner is quick to learn, it’s the value of their time. You have to work hard to give your business the momentum it needs to start seeing consistent growth. This can mean wearing many hats, from marketer to team leader to salesperson and so on. But many business owners get bogged down, at first, by admin tasks that, while important, take up that crucial time. From virtual assistants to bookkeepers, you can make sure you stay on top of those essentials while freeing up your time. You can take a lot of the pressure off without leaving anything undone.
Focus on the work that really matters That time can be better spent focusing on the tasks that are going to make a significant difference. Everyone can agree that an effectively streamlined and updated calendar can help them organize their work life and that a cluttered email inbox helps no-one. But can you justify spending the time tidying up when you could be making money if you spent the same amount of time qualifying and chasing leads? Outsourcing allows you to prioritize your workload. Identify what can be left to an assistant and focus your time and energy on the tasks that are going to help the business grow and make money.
Improve employee engagement Your team’s time, and how they get through the day’s workload matters just as much. Some employers may see fit to delegate rather than outsource. Sometimes, that can make sense. However, if you are just pushing your “busy work” onto your team, you will soon find them resenting it. Your team members take on their role with an understanding of what their responsibilities are going to be and forcing them to go outside it too often can begin to drastically affect their motivation and engagement. Their productivity will slow as you bog them down with morale draining work, and you could even risk seeing a lower employee retention rate as they seek to find employment that better fits their expectations and skills.
Be careful of hiring too many employees at once Overheads are the one thing you should be most careful about when getting your business up and running. Start piling the costs on and your company and buckle under the weight of them before you have a chance to do anything about. Outsourcing your IT team, as opposed to employing them directly, can be much more cost-effective. You pay slightly more for the work that you need done, but you can end up saving money by not having to pay for the overheads, the hiring process, any necessary training, and much more. You can create new roles as and when they are justified, instead of at the first sign that you need another pair of hands on deck.
Stay on top of tech Speaking of IT, it’s no secret that the tech side of business is where a significant portion of outsourcing is carried out. You can outsource anything from app development to security, desktop support to disaster recovery. What’s more, you can shape the level of service you get exactly to your needs. There is a real risk that startups will hire an IT team that well-equipped to provide for all their needs, but don’t have enough work to justify having them constantly on the payroll. Many outsourced IT services allow you to operate on an “as-you-need-it” basis. You won’t be paying them to sit around doing nothing when you don’t have any IT needs. When a new need does pop up, however, you can call them in to take care of it.
Scale more responsibly Another significant issue that hiring too many people can bring up is the difficulty it introduces when it comes to scaling. Taking your business to the next level, whether it’s opening a new location or offering an expanded range of services, is a big move and requires a lot of preparation. Often, it involves buying more equipment or upsizing your office space. However, continuously hiring new staff can force you to start scaling early, before you’re fully prepared. Without the understanding you need of the costs involved, as well as how you’re going to find the revenue to balance it out, you can fail to scale successfully. The majority of startups that fail within two years fail precisely because they didn’t make it through that growth spurt.
Ready-made professionals at your disposal Whether you need the professional, courteous demeanor of a trained telephone answering operator or the eye for accessibility that a web designer offers, outsourcing ensures a much better chance of incorporating professional-level quality in your business. Outsourced services survive and thrive based on the effectiveness of the solutions they offer. Those that you might look at are only there because they have proven their quality. There’s no need to assume that, when you hire an employee directly, you might be hiring someone without that professional quality. However, it’s certainly true that you might end up with someone who ends up delivering sub-standard work until they can be further trained. There’s no need for such micromanagement when it comes to outsourcing.
Maintain the prestige of your company Branding, in particular, needs a practised hand. As a small business owner, you may be aware of your unique selling point and how to position it in relation to the market and your customer. However, whether it’s providing customer support or crafting a marketing message, you also need to learn the language of the medium you are using. Ensuring a great user experience in an online support chat is different from providing the same over the phone. Making an effective Twitter campaign is different from crafting content for a content marketing plan. If you get your branding or marketing wrong, it can undermine the public perception of your business.
Learn from the best Whether it’s in marketing, providing support, developing web pages, or anything else, you have the opportunity not only to benefit from professional outsourcing services but to learn from them as well. Many outsourcing teams will offer some consulting to better help you understand their services and how what they do can better benefit you. But you and your team can learn by osmosis, too. By observing how they work and what they do, you start to internalize both the functions and the processes by which outsourcing teams help you. In time, as you scale you may want to make more of your outsourced processes part of your team’s responsibility. To better do that, work more closely with your outsourced service providers.
Never miss a deadline If you have a big marketing opportunity coming up, you likely have a tight deadline to work to. Whether it’s a launch or an event that your startup is a part of, you can’t wait around while your team develops the marketing and branding expertise they need. Outsourcing those same needs can ensure that you hit the ground running with a team that already knows what they’re doing. Outsourcing, in general, can help free up the hands you need working at full steam when it’s crunch time. If you have a product launch or something else on a deadline, you don’t need your staff being weighed down by admin work that could be handed off.
Don’t take any chances where the law is involved There are a few specific fields where outsourcing isn’t just helpful, it’s crucial. In particular, you don’t want to lack the knowledge that outsourced services could offer where the legality of your startup depends on it. When crafting an HR policy, you shouldn’t do without HR consultants. Nor should you file taxes without the help of a chartered accountant. Similarly, outsourced safety training can help you create a healthier workplace and shows your team that you respect their need for safety and security. Outsourcing these essential strategies can help ensure that you’re not liable should anything disastrous happen. Don’t try and wing it where years of legal expertise or regulation understanding is required.
Outsourcing gives you the cost-effective opportunity to free up time, energy, and effort to do the things that really make you money. It can play a significant role in seeing a more engaged and motivated team while helping you avoid the costs of employee bloat within the business. The next time you find yourself in need of another pair of hands, consider whether outsourcing might be the right option.