Small business owners like to think they can do it all, but even the most organized business owners sometimes need some help running their businesses.
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To get that help, many business owners have turned to outsourcing. While the word may evoke images of sending work overseas, small business owners can actually use outsourcing to their advantage by sending work-related functions to companies that have the professional expertise to handle them. Business owners have turned to outsourcing to handle bookkeeping, accounting, logistics and marketing, among other areas of operation.
Outsourcing these functions allows business owners to hand over the reins to experts who are familiar with those areas of business. This gives entrepreneurs a chance to focus on what they do best.
"Time is the biggest advantage (of outsourcing)," said Greg Jones, CEO of BookKeeping Express, a company that will take over and manage bookkeeping responsibilities. "That allows you to focus on running your business while also gaining a partner, if they choose the right organization, to assist with covering possible weaknesses that the owner has. In essence, the business will have a check and balance with outside eyes to aid in running the business."
In addition to extra time, many businesses can also gain professional guidance from people who are dialed into the best practices of each industry.
"(Outsourcing offers you) a real business partner who will give you knowledge," said Bobby Harris, CEO of BlueGrace Logistics, whose firm handles outsourced logistics projects. "This is value you won't find anywhere else. You’ll be able to do things you once couldn’t do at a speed you never thought possible."
And it's not just that these firms have experienced personnel to handle outsourced functions, they also have the most up-to-date technologies in their respective fields.
"Outsourcing enables small businesses to benefit from the professional capabilities without the equipment, know-how, software or personnel to complete their work," said Steve Greenbaum, CEO of PostNet, whose firm handles mailing and shipping for it's clients.
However, finding the right business partner to outsource to can be a challenge and a process which requires some research on the part of business owners.
"First, figure out what your needs are," Jones said. "Interview two or three organizations and do not focus on price at the beginning. Look for those firms that are ahead of the curve with technology, reporting, partner mentality, and complete value-add to your firm."
Additionally, Jones suggests business owners research several places, including social media such as LinkedIn and networking groups, to get reviews of companies to which they may outsource. Experts also suggest that companies look to work with businesses in their own community.
After that initial research, businesses should make it a point to set up meetings with companies before they ever start working with them, experts suggest.
"It's important to meet the key players all the way up through the executive team and make sure you get a reference," Harris said. "From simple Internet research to referrals, it can be quite easy to find a good, credible company that can be trusted."
While there are a number of benefits to outsourcing work to other companies, experts point to one drawback that may scare independent-minded business owners away from outsourcing.
"The only drawback I can see is the risk of loss of quality or control," Greenbaum said.
While losing control can be a scary proposition for business owners who are used to controlling every aspect of their business, experts say the loss of control can also help businesses a great deal.
"Some people feel they are letting go of control within their own organization, however, they are truly strengthening the ability of their company," said Harris.