I often hear business owners say they can’t afford to outsource when it’s usually the opposite that’s true – they can’t afford not to outsource.
Yes, it costs money to outsource, but it also frees up time for you to do the things in your business that make you money. Therefore, if the amount of money you make in the time you save is greater than the cost of outsourcing, it should be a no-brainer.
Benefits of outsourcing
Time-saving is often the easiest benefit to measure in terms of return on investment. You can calculate how much money you’ve made in the time you’ve saved, then compare it against the cost of outsourcing. However, time-saving isn’t the only reason that outsourcing is an investment in your business.
Investing in experts
When you outsource, you’re investing in someone else’s skills and knowledge. Why spend hours of your valuable time learning how to do something, when you can bring in someone who has spent years building their expertise. You may save money doing it yourself, but the return on investment will be less.
Business owners tend to focus on the perceived value of the task they want completing rather than the value of somebody’s experience, but the experience is often where the real value lies. When you work with freelancers or agencies, you are getting the benefit of their knowledge, expertise, qualifications, training and skills, all of which can be a huge asset to your business.
Get a fresh perspective
Another key benefit of outsourcing is getting a fresh perspective. This is particularly relevant when you are thinking of changing direction, trying something new or growing your business.
When you’re working in the business every day, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. An outsider will bring new ideas, notice things you’ve missed and help you stay focused on your objectives. They can help you avoid costly mistakes and identify opportunities you might not be aware of.
Getting a fresh perspective on a specific business issue could be the key to overcoming a recurring problem, getting out of a rut or progressing your business to the next stage.
When you employ someone, they can easily be pulled into other tasks that aren’t part of their role or get distracted by office politics. Often, the percentage of their time spent doing the work they are paid for is not as high as you might think. You pay employees for set hours, even when they are on holiday, off sick or exchanging small talk with their colleagues.
When you outsource, you are paying for a specific outcome. On the surface, the cost may seem higher than that of an employee hourly rate or salary, but you’re paying for a result, not just somebody’s time.
When you outsource, you have much more flexibility than when you employ; it can be an excellent way to get long-term results for your business without long-term investment.
Outsourcing to the right people
When you add all the above benefits together, it’s easy to see how outsourcing can be a real investment. However, before you rush into any contracts, it’s important to make the right decisions about who to outsource to.
Clarify your objective
The first thing you need to do is clarify what you need and what the objectives are. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, then you might end up with the wrong result.
Think about what you want your chosen freelancer or agency to deliver. If you have a clear expectation, it will make things easier when you are speaking to companies. They should be able to tell you quickly whether they can deliver what you need and how they will add value.
Don’t simply invest in something without looking at whether it fits with your overall business strategy. It can be very easy to get talked into something that isn’t right for your business.
An example of this is gaining full ISO certification when you don’t have a specific need for it. While ISO certification offers many excellent benefits, not every business needs it, and it can be a big cost. However, there is real value in implementing the ISO framework to prepare your business for future growth. In this case, you need to decide whether full ISO certification would offer any immediate benefits to your business or if you should simply adopt the basic principles.
Whether you want to outsource aspects of your marketing, business transformation, IT or operations, ensure that the service you are paying for is actually what you need to meet your business goals.
Cost should not be the main deciding factor when it comes to outsourcing, but it will need consideration. One company may be able to deliver faster but at a higher cost. Another company may be able to work within your budget but meet less of your objectives. You might need to compromise on cost, timescales or quality, so when you weigh up the offers, decide what your priorities are.
Some projects will require you to work very closely with the person or company you are outsourcing to. This is certainly the case when you work with a coach or business consultant, so it’s vital you find someone who is the right fit.
You should feel confident that they have the best interests of your business at heart and will deliver what you need. Find someone you trust and feel comfortable working with, someone that shares your company values and understands your vision.
Regardless of whether you’re outsourcing a one-off project or engaging with someone for long-term consultancy work, it’s important that you understand the terms. How will the work be billed and how will results be measured? How often will updates be provided and will these be face to face meetings, calls or emails? If you are working with a company on a retainer, what are the notice terms and how often will you have reviews? You need to be comfortable with the terms of the contract before you agree to any payments.
Research and due diligence
Don’t rush into a contract because it sounds good and you like the person. Do a bit of research. Ask for client testimonials, case studies or references that prove credibility. If their industry is regulated, ensure they have the required qualifications or accreditations. Do some due diligence, especially if you are paying for work in advance.
Working with your consultant or agency
There are a lot of benefits to outsourcing, and if you find the right people, they can accelerate your business. Here are a few tips for getting the most from your relationships.
Remember they are experts
When you outsource, you are paying for somebody else’s expertise, so you must be prepared to listen to their view. They may tell you things you don’t want to hear; they may present you with hard truths; they may disagree with the ideas you want to implement. Yes, you have the final say over what happens in your business, but you’ve hired an expert for a reason. Consider their advice and suggestions carefully before you rush into any decisions.
Review work regularly
One of the benefits of outsourcing is it allows flexibility; if something isn’t working, you can change it. If you aren’t happy with the service you are getting, you can change to another supplier. Don’t keep paying for something if it no longer fits with your objectives, isn’t meeting your standards or is no longer required.
Good communication from both parties is essential, so make time to review projects or share updates. If you aren’t happy with the way something is progressing, then speak up. Review consultancy and retainer services regularly to ensure they align with your business strategy.
Get in touch
I work with SMEs to improve business operations, create robust strategies and prepare for growth. Some of the areas I assist with include; business strategy reports, risk and opportunity registers, SWOT analysis, change management, systems auditing, and ISO Certification for SMEs. All my services are tailored to the unique needs of your business.
If you’d like to find out more about how I can help your business thrive and grow, contact me on 0113 418 2579 firstname.lastname@example.org.