Small businesses face many financial and personnel decisions that will shape their futures. In general, each business has to find its ideal balance between retaining in-house services and outsourcing positions.
While every business will have different needs, there are some general principles that apply to most small businesses. Here are three things that most small businesses can outsource in order to save time and money.
Perhaps your small business is busy enough that some top-level employees need assistants. If so, that’s a good sign. After all, people who don’t generate significant business typically do not need assistants to handle mundane tasks. But even busy and business-generating small business employees might not need an assistant full-time. Since finding a good part-time assistant is difficult, it can leaves the company with a difficult conundrum. Thankfully, there is a solution.
Virtual assistants have cropped up en masse lately. In his book The Four Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris enthusiastically recommends using virtual assistants as a cost-effective alternative to a full-time one. They can handle most basic tasks, and they are generally responsive to requests. They might not be ideal, but they represent a better option than either hiring a full-time assistant and not having enough work to justify full-time status, or otherwise having the employee do the work herself.
Keeping your books in-house has many advantages. It means, first and foremost, that all accounting information stays inside the company’s walls. But it also means paying someone a full-time salary for what is oftentimes part-time work. Larger companies might require one or more full-time accountants to manage the books, but small business usually need only a part-timer. That’s usually a sign that outsourcing is the right move.
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to find freelance accountants. Their hourly rates as freelancers might be greater than they would be as full-timers, but since you’re only paying them for part-time hours it works out in your favor. While it won’t provide all the advantages of an in-house accountant, using the same freelancer regularly can provide many of them at a fraction of the overall cost.
3. Information Technology
Keeping IT in-house is so much easier. It means having people on-site to diagnose and fix any problem immediately. If something’s down, chances are an in-house department can get it back up and running in no time. They can also deal with individual users rapidly, getting their technical issues out of the way and getting them back on track. As with the other two factors, however, the costs just don’t justify the benefits.
There are plenty of ways to outsource IT, so it shouldn’t be that painful. ABB data centers, for instance, provide a simple and cost-effective solution for off-site data hosting. You might not get the instant help you’d get with an in-house staff, but you’ll also save valuable cash. Maybe one day you’ll grow to the point of needing a full IT staff. But until then, outsourcing will do you best.
Do not outsource? Customer Service
It might be tempting, when deciding what to outsource, to consider outsourcing customer service. If you’re already outsourcing your assistants, you might think they go hand-in-hand. After all, many companies that offer virtual assistant solutions also offer call center solutions. Why not employ them to answer phones and serve your customers?
It’s one thing to outsource in-office functions. But it’s a mistake to outsource anything related to customer service. That’s where you want to put your best foot forward. Your customer service is your liaison to customers, both current and potential. It’s best to hire an in-house person, or team, to handle that workload. It will reflect better on your company and pay off in the end.