To provide valuable insights on outsourcing for small business growth, we’ve gathered eighteen unique tips from founders and CEOs. From maintaining an ongoing evaluation of partners to treating outsourced resources with respect, discover the strategies that have proven successful in their own businesses.
Maintain an Ongoing Evaluation of Partners
We’re always updating our list of preferred outsourcing partners to assist us when we’re swamped with projects. One strategy that’s proven quite effective for us is maintaining an ongoing evaluation process.
We assign the outsourcing partner or freelancer smaller, less critical tasks and assess their performance on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 signifies top-notch quality. If they receive a rating of 7 or higher, we add them to our preferred list and reach out to them the next time we require their services. This approach ensures we don’t rush into decisions, especially during our busiest periods.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
As a small-business owner, it is so easy to become overwhelmed with administration. From email management and scheduling to drab routine activities, it became increasingly difficult for me to focus on business strategy and client interactions.
So, I ended up hiring a virtual assistant to offload the admin tasks onto. The end result was a further improvement in my business performance and an improvement in my overall quality of life!
Outsource Software Testing to Specialists
As our offerings rapidly expanded, we recognized the importance of strategic partnerships to enhance core competencies and scale efficiently. In this pursuit, we made a pivotal decision to outsource specific tasks to expert collaborators.
One crucial outsourcing decision was to entrust software testing to a specialized QA-testing firm. Their expertise in comprehensive quality assurance significantly improved the reliability and performance of the software products. Clients noticed the enhanced stability and responsiveness of the solutions, which boosted customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Seek SEO and Link-Building Experts
SEO is a very intricate part of marketing that requires a specialized and highly knowledgeable team to take on the task. As important as SEO is, it’s not feasible to have an in-house team handling all aspects of it.
So, we’ve outsourced a link-building team to help build the domain authority of our website and optimize our website’s visibility and organic search engine rankings. It makes sense for us to outsource a team to conduct the link-building campaigns through outreach efforts, and they have a dedicated team to handle this process.
I’ve seen the difference, and it has also made waves in the thought leadership and content marketing strategy of our website.
Find Bookkeeping for a Restaurant Business
When I opened my first restaurant, I couldn’t outsource our bookkeeping and accounting fast enough. It’s such a time-consuming, tedious task that there weren’t enough hours in the day for me to focus any time on marketing and growth. Every new entrepreneur needs to know that they should outsource these processes as soon as humanly possible to free up their time and focus. I am very thankful that there are people in the world who actually enjoy these tasks.
Offload Mundane Tasks
Hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) was a game changer for our small business! It was more cost-effective than hiring a full-time worker and saved us hours of mundane tasks.
Here are three biggest tips for hiring a VA for your business:
- Define Your Needs: Make a clear list of tasks, from routine to specialized, and prioritize them. Specify required skills, hours, and communication expectations to find the right VA.
- Use Collaboration Tools: Embrace tools like Slack, Trello, or Asana for efficient communication and task management. Provide training if needed, set communication guidelines, and ensure data security for a successful working relationship.
- Appreciate Your VA: Like any employee, a VA thrives when respected and motivated. Although some work remotely at lower rates, treating them as disposable can lead to feelings of under-appreciation and disrespect. Recognize their achievements with regular rewards and gifts.
Implement an Outsourcer Management Blueprint
Growing my small business through outsourcing became a breeze. The secret sauce? A meticulously crafted Outsourcer Management Blueprint. In the foundational 12 weeks with my international recruit, our weekly rendezvous revolved around these pivotal pillars:
- The Basics: Dive deep into the company’s ethos and non-negotiables.
- The Day-to-Day: Sculpt their daily task card.
- Crystal Clear Expectations: Illuminate the path—what’s expected and the benchmarks for blossoming in their role.
- Task Mastery: Break it down with SOP-styled clarity.
- Hurdles on the Horizon: A safe space for them to jot down snags, queries, or anything stalling their stride.
- Feedback & Forward Motion: Pinpoint growth areas and chart out aspirational milestones.
Balance Trust and Control
Avoid putting all your trust in the contractor. Outsourcing packaging and concept ideas for new pens can result in unique style and performance. Consulting with experts in the design field is a good strategy. Experience over many years of outsourcing shows that no matter how detailed your specifications are, you can never be sure that the final result will be exactly as you envisioned it.
In order to settle on the final design you desire, you will need to take the initiative and hunt for details on your own. The first and foremost piece of advice for outsourcing is to never let go and let someone else execute your work exactly how you want it done.
This is not advocating for micromanagement, but it does help to have a plan laid out in detail and to have checks and balances in place. This strategy can help to mitigate design errors and also save a ton of dollars to be invested in the right areas.
Add More Niche Workers to Your Team
The biggest tip or recommendation I can give is to try to outsource more rather than less. I used to be the type of business owner that wanted to run and operate everything. This held me back more than anything because I was always picking up and dropping new aspects of the project.
I run a digital agency, and my best skill-set is from bringing on the clients, developing the strategy, and account management.
I now have a team of freelancers from PPC specialists, content writers, and web developers, meaning I can completely overhaul a client’s marketing strategy and also implement that work. I’ve specifically taken lead-gen clients from paying $24 per lead to sub-$9 by controlling the entire process and having the best people in place to do it. It also means I have a much better work-life balance.
One game-changing move for our business was harnessing platforms like Fiverr. As a nascent company, hiring full-time experts was a daunting financial commitment. Instead, we ventured into freelance marketplaces. It not only allowed us to tap into a diverse pool of specialists quickly but also offered a cost-effective method to test new ideas.
For instance, we once prototyped an entire marketing campaign via Fiverr before implementing it in-house. This approach minimized risk and maximized agility, accelerating our growth trajectory.
Delegate Social Media to Interns
No man—or woman—is an island. Almost every small business struggles with managing multiple operational tasks when they are just starting out. Founders are stretched thin, and so are their budgets.
Oftentimes, they look to freelancers or telephone answering services, sometimes in other countries, to be virtual assistants of sorts. But the one thing that worked for me when I was starting out was outsourcing some of our management of our social media. Owners of start-ups have to keep all the balls in the air. Social media is probably the most relevant form of publicity today.
Outsourcing was the best thing I did in the early days. Social media marketers are a dime a dozen on sites like Fiverr and others. But many of my clients have chosen to hire marketing assistants overseas, or in our case, college students majoring in marketing have made great interns.
Stefan Campbell, Owner, The Small Business Blog
Discover a Dual-Role Project Manager
One game-changing outsourcing tip that catalyzed the growth of my small business was hiring a project manager who doubled as a personal assistant. This multifaceted role demands an individual who deeply comprehends your business, aligns with its goals, and understands your ideas and desires.
Their pivotal task? To adeptly manage time and delegate all tasks that don’t necessitate my direct intervention. As the business owner, the crucial part for me was relinquishing control. Entrusting daily operations to this person and limiting updates to a few times a week may sound daunting. It indeed was a challenging transition. Yet, when I took that leap of faith, allowing the assistant to manage and execute, the results were transformative.
My business not only gained momentum but truly began to thrive. When done right, outsourcing isn’t just about delegation; it’s about empowering growth through trust.
Start Small, Expand Outsourcing Gradually
A simple approach that I live by, and one that I apply to all my endeavors—including outsourcing—is to start small and test the waters.
Rather than diving in headfirst, I began with a small project to dip my toes and see the promise outsourcing held. It turned out to be a brilliant move because once I established a solid working relationship and gained confidence in the people I was collaborating with, I gradually expanded the scope of our partnership, outsourcing more tasks over time.
Keep an Initial Firewall with Outsourced Resources
Whenever you outsource, try to keep a firewall between that resource and your client initially. If they work out, great. But if they do poorly, then you have the ability to correct their work and try another resource without creating unnecessary client concerns.
It’s difficult to identify new outsourced resources who are good at what they do, reliable, and trustworthy. Make sure you’ve got a list of all the attributes you want in your resource when you bring them on. Measure success across all of these metrics while evaluating them. If they do well, then you can think about how to build that connection and offload some of the customer support to the new resource.
Prioritize Specialists Over Generalists
As a fellow entrepreneur, an outsourcing approach that helped my startup scale effectively can be shared. In 10+ years of growing a software business, the key outsourcing tip is to focus on finding specialists rather than generalists.
Rather than hiring one outsourced “jack-of-all-trades,” teams of niche experts are built. A UI designer is just focused on front-end work. A Python developer is dedicated to back-end coding. A digital marketer is driving social media. This specialty model works much better than one person wearing many hats.
By leveraging platforms like Toptal, an agile, on-demand team can be built faster than hiring generalists. Capabilities can be scaled instantly without the learning curve. Costs are lower and quality is higher.
Since adopting this specialized outsourcing approach, it’s been possible to accelerate product development, enter new markets quicker, and deliver great customer experiences. It has driven growth tremendously.
Safeguard Your Core Direction
In the early days at Softball Ace, we faced a colossal challenge. A top-tier client was demanding an industry-shaking campaign. Time was short, and the in-house team was maxed out.
Outsourcing was turned to, but not everything was handed over. We kept a tight grip on strategy, creative direction, and quality. Tasks like design and data analysis were delegated. The result was spectacular. External experts were tapped into, producing top-notch work in record time. The client was thrilled, and the small agency’s reputation soared.
The lesson is simple; outsourcing can work wonders for small businesses, but the vision must be kept in check. Delegate the small stuff, but safeguard the core direction. Outsourcing can be a game-changer, but only if the ship is steered. Delegate, but don’t let go, and watch the small business reach new heights.
Focus on Quality Over Cost
One of the biggest mistakes small-business owners make is choosing cost over quality. Such decisions often cost you a lot more. Cheaper outsourcing usually involves shortcuts to reduce costs, leading to poor-quality work. In most cases, individuals who offer cheap services lack the skills and expertise required to do the job.
When outsourcing to inexpensive providers, they often missed deadlines because they didn’t have the resources to do the job. And as the business grew, scaling up our outsourcing operations became difficult. This is because inexpensive contractors cannot handle the growing demands.
Treat Outsourced Resources with Respect
Being kind—freelancers and agencies are people too, so it’s important that you treat them kindly and with respect. It’s easy to see outsourced projects as numbers or jobs to be done, which makes you engage much more critically with them.
However, this can lead to strained and sometimes broken relationships, so it’s important to consider the human behind the email, and try to empathize with them as you work with them. We’ve found this has helped us to maintain excellent relationships with people we outsource to.