A recent post previewing the findings of SuretyBonds.com’s 2021 Entrepreneurial Insights Survey outlined some of the tools and resources entrepreneurs identified as important to their success. Many of the responses helped establish outsourcing as a key resource for small businesses. Note the similarities in the answers of multiple entrepreneurs who told SuretyBonds.com what they would have done differently in starting their business:
“I would have invested more in finding the right personnel to help with managing the site,” says Andrew Ng, CEO and founder of Trusted Malaysia.
“If I could start again, I would suppress my desire to perform every task; it is easy to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none,” explains Alex Mastin, CEO of Home Grounds. “I would not hesitate to approach the specialists who have cemented the success of the business.”
“I would have still started the business on my own, but I would try to bring in as many passionate professionals as I could,” says Will Hatton, founder of The Broke Backpacker.
When it comes to some business processes, trusting experts with the requisite skills can help small businesses increase their efficiency, focus on customers, and compete with larger companies that can afford in-house services, according to the United States Small Business Administration. In 2019, Clutch found that more than a third of small businesses outsourced some of their operations, with more than half planning to explore the option prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How do I know when outsourcing is necessary for my small business?
Some services can be easily identified as necessary to outsource. The findings of the Clutch survey showed these processes to be the most commonly outsourced:
- IT services
- Digital marketing
- Human resources
- Customer support
Keeping your skills and passions in mind, while being able to relinquish control in areas you are less advanced in, is crucial. Often, this is a lesson that’s not learned until you have unnecessarily sacrificed your product or the experience of your customers, as Eden Cheng, co-founder at PeopleFinderFree, reflects on:
“Looking back, there are a number of things I would have done differently, and the first of which would have been to outsource some of the work out to external vendors from the start, which would have given us the breathing room we needed to carefully hire the right people that fit into our value system, instead of just making decisions solely based on skills and qualifications, in order to fill out open positions. This would’ve also spared us a significant amount of time, money and effort that we eventually had to put back into the re-recruitment process, just so we could rebuild our workforce to fit into the sort of company culture we wanted.”
Abby Drow, co-founder of Cloom Enterprise, speaks of similar experiences when a willingness to outsource from the start would have been beneficial to business:
“Instead of wasting time with marketing, I would have immediately contacted vendors and focused my sales on them. Having great people who epitomize how I want my products to be perceived in the market is an excellent tool at your disposal. Don’t overlook the potential of this channel; it might be worth your while.”
While not understanding how to cash in on your areas of expertise may result in wasted time, quickly realizing the pitfalls of trying to do everything yourself and seeking help from experts accordingly an provide your business with a big win, as Clare Tries, CEO of Clash Copy, notes:
“It is… really important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses quickly! I discovered right away that accounting was not my strength, so I made the decision to invest in outsourcing the business accounting. This enabled me to focus on my strengths and grow the business much faster!”
How do I proceed after identifying which areas my small business needs to outsource?
Being able to recognize the steps necessary to outsourcing efficiently is easier said than done. Knowing when and where you will need the help of other experts is only the first step to making sure you’re keeping costs low and focusing on the aspects of your business that you are passionate about. Here are some strategies for the outsourcing process:
Lean on your network
A large network can benefit you greatly when it comes time to consider which professionals you would like to work with. Clare Tries of Clash Copy offers additional advice on network-building as a resource:
“Having a large network before I went into business was incredibly helpful when it came to finding my first clients. People like to do business with those they know and trust, so having a solid network to reach out to when you are first getting started can be quite beneficial, especially if they are primarily people in your target market. If you don’t have a large network, start building one as soon as you can by attending industry events (in-person is ideal, but virtual is still better than nothing!), joining groups, and offering valuable advice (for free) to your target marketing as much as possible.”
Being able to rely on others in your industry can also help you to have productive, informed conversations with contractors and experts. If you know someone who has outsourced a certain service, they might have useful advice on what to expect, how long the work will take to complete, or ways to monitor performance.
Be informed about the work that is to be outsourced
While other entrepreneurs may be able to assist you in some fashion, this may not always be the case. You should make certain that you’re prepared to speak clearly with those you are outsourcing work to. Mohamed Sehwail of Full Session recommends learning as much as possible about different processes once you’ve decided to seek out other experts for those processes:
“[One thing I would have done differently in launching my business is] more research in the area outside my primary interest. For instance, I always knew I would outsource accounting and finance, but I still needed to have a good understanding of the basics in order to have fruitful discussions with my accountant. The same applies to legal matter, administration, marketing, etc.”
Communicate clear goals and expectations
Understanding exactly what your business needs and communicating those needs to other professionals is an incredibly important step to working with experts whose values align with those of your business. Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree provides additional insight:
“When we started PeopleFinderFree, we didn’t really spend too much time thinking about how we wanted to structure our company or the type of company culture we wanted to build, as all we were focused on was just getting started. We were in a rush and the result of which led to us hiring a number of people who, while skilled and talented, didn’t always align with the values that we really wanted. Naturally, this led to a somewhat chaotic and haphazard company culture.”
Formal statements, descriptive contracts, and frequent communication (without micromanaging) are other key tools to getting the most out of the professionals you work with.
Double-check the licenses and certifications of the professionals whose work you’re using
You should make sure that the professionals you outsource services to are following the requirements of the state you’re working in, including holding all necessary licenses, bonds, and certifications. Here are some services your business may take advantage of that should be compliant with state requirements:
- Janitorial services: Residential or commercial cleaning companies may obtain Janitorial Service Bonds, which would protect you from losses incurred as a result of theft or other incidents.
- Professional employer organizations: Many states require professional employer organizations, which function basically as outsourced human resources departments, to furnish Professional Employment Organization Bonds before operating in order to reduce fraud and malpractice.
- Other on-site services: Like cleaning companies, other organizations providing on-site services can seek out Business Service Bonds. These bonds ensure that you are protected from losses incurred from a professional working within your office, from painters to movers to carpet cleaners. This post on business service bonds outlines some smart questions to ask when verifying a company’s credibility.
License requirements for workers in different industries will vary by state, so you should make sure the experts you plan to work with are compliant with the requirements in your state.
We want to hear what you have to say!
Do you agree with the responses from entrepreneurs who have already taken SuretyBonds.com’s 2021 Entrepreneurial Insights Survey? Take the survey yourself to share your experiences and help fellow small business owners learn from you!