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Entrepreneur Diaries: The power of outsourcing your business

Karen

By Karen Osman, founder of writing company Travel Ink.

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December 16, 2013 3:38 by



When I left corporate life to set up my own business, I was very much looking forward to working in an area that suited my strengths. Having the freedom to choose what I worked on felt incredibly liberating. However, as a business owner, especially in the early stages, the responsibility of handling every element of the company, from HR and finance to IT and administration, weighed heavily on me and I’ve spent too many hours on time-consuming tasks, instead of focusing on revenue-driving activities.

After three years of running my business, I have learnt the importance of outsourcing the things I have little talent for and to focus on the things I do well. However, as a small business, money can be tight, so how do you decide on what to outsource? Well, like most things in life, prioritisation is crucial. A good place to start is working out what the value of your daily rate is. This will give an indication of how much money you could be earning if you outsourced tasks, such as administration, courier costs, accountancy, deliveries etc. Not only does it free up your time to focus on revenue-driving works, it also makes life a lot easier.

Here are some ideas to consider when looking at outsourcing for start-up companies:

The customer is king

Outsourcing can be risky, so it’s best to avoid doing anything that will have a direct impact on your customer. Ensure you outsource the right activities – this means keeping control of elements, such as what makes your company unique and different points from your competitors.

Barter up

There may be an opportunity with another start-up to exchange your services on a ‘barter deal’ basis. For example, a copywriting company could provide content to a finance company in exchange for accountancy support. One word of caution when taking this route: Make sure the agreement is fully documented so each party understands their responsibilities and there are no headaches later on.

Look for the best in the business, not the cheapest

If money is an issue, it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option and, while this might have financial benefits in the short-term, the ramifications can be destructive. If possible, choose a supplier who has been tried, tested and recommended to you. Ask for references and other feedback before signing on the dotted line to mitigate the risk. Remember, outsourcing means the company should become an integral part of your business. Not only does the company in question need to do their job effectively, but aspects such as deadlines, interpersonal relations and the ability to solve problems all need to be taken into consideration for a smooth working relationship.

Consider a long-term contract

In most cases, the longer the contract, the higher the likelihood of receiving more competitive rates.  While such a commitment can be a bit scary, add a probation period to ensure both parties are happy. Also, with longer-term contracts, take your time in getting all of the information you need so that you’re confident you’ve made the right decision.

Broaden your horizons

As technology allows us to work from anywhere, don’t just restrict yourself to your home domain. Consider other destinations for outsourcing partners that may be more cost-effective. Just remember to take into consideration things, such as weekends, time differences and cultural implications.

 

Karen Osman is also member of Business Network International and is focus chairperson of the Travel and Tourism Industry group at the British Business Group.

To read more of Osman’s entrepreneurial diaries for the Kippreport.com, click here.

 



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