By Susan Tucker
One of the biggest challenges of a growing company is determining the best way to effectively manage burgeoning tasks. Quite often every person in a small business wears more than one hat: the CEO manages inventory, the receptionist does some of the marketing and the employees clean the toilet. No one ever said being a small business owner was a “sexy” job!
But, what happens when everyone is too stretched to do their primary job to the best of their ability? What happens when growth occurs and how can you make the best, most cost-effective decisions for your company as you head in an upward direction?
That’s when the question arises: should I outsource or hire in-house for some of the tasks at hand?
Here are a few things to consider when asking yourself this question.
Outsourcing, as defined by Wikipedia, is the contracting out of a business process to a third-party. Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic contracting. With the rise of third-party sites such as Fiverr.com, Elance.com, Guru.com and others, finding talented professionals to outsource tasks to is easier than it has ever been before. You can even check your local chamber or small business development center for a list of consultants and contractors.
Business owners can outsource smaller tasks such as a logo build, WordPress help, video production or bring on a project related contractor. Often times companies outsource their bookkeeping or accounting to reliable third-party sources.
Benefits of outsourcing:
- Control costs
Bringing on contractors on an as-needed basis rather than hiring them as employees can give you much-needed flexibility, especially if there is an ebb and flow to your industry.
- Increase efficiency
Do you find yourself pulling your hair out when it comes time to do your bookkeeping or social media marketing? Oftentimes, business owners will procrastinate tasks they do not like, but there is still a mental drain associated with them. Outsourcing can free up time and mental space so you can focus on what you love about being a small business owner.
- Get the job done better
You likely really love building and selling your widgets, but downright hate tweeting. But, guess what, there are contractors out there who LOVE tweeting/bookkeeping/building websites (live, eat, drink it) and can do a better job than you (sorry, but it’s true) because just like you’re passionate about your products and services, they are about theirs as well. Why not outsource and get the job done better than you can?
Drawbacks of outsourcing:
- Loss of internal control
If you are the type of manager who likes to be involved in the employee process, outsourcing is likely not for you. Contractors, by default, work their own schedules, and often have their own ideas on how things should be run.
Outsourcing requires a level of trust. You are allowing a contractor access to your confidential information. Not only that, if this person is acting as the face of your company through social media engagement, you need to trust that they will act the best they can on your behalf.
The biggest complaint about outsourcing projects are the delays. There is an unspoken rule called the ‘4x Rule’. This rule refers to the fact that it will take four times as long to complete the project; it can happen for a variety of reasons, including communication lag, miscommunication, inaccuracies in implementation and so forth.
Hiring new employees can be a daunting task, but as your business grows, it could be necessary. Hiring, training, and managing people, as you grow, can become more complex the bigger your business becomes. But, if you are looking for team members to advise you, help handle problems instantly, and participate as part of your planning team, it may make more sense to hire in house.
Benefits of hiring in-house:
- Thorough vetting process through interviews, background checks, reference checks that create a built-in level of trust.
- Instant accountability. Need something done right away? Walk to the next office and ask for it to get done.
Drawbacks of hiring in-house:
- Additional costs. Training, insurance, benefits, taxes are all additional costs that are incurred by business owners when taking on employees.
- Personality issues. Sure, it can be great fun to work in an office with different personalities, but what if you don’t like someone and you’re stuck in a cubicle with them? This can get tricky!
Things to Consider When Outsourcing
If you have determined that outsourcing may be the way for you, here are a few things to consider:
- Do a thorough check of the contractor you are potentially going to work with. It is highly recommended to consult with references, check their online profiles such as their website and social media pages, and read their testimonials.
- Create an understandable contractor agreement and go over each piece of it so everyone understands all expectations.
- Create an open-line of communication. Yes, you are hiring this person to handle certain aspects of your business, but they will never know it like you know it. If they do not feel like they can easily approach you to do their job better, then they won’t and it will ultimately affect you.
- Make your contractor accountable by putting systems in place to track progress on the projects they are charged with, and follow up.
Personally, I like to act as a “hybrid” contractor working with my clients as if I am their on-staff marketing employee. It’s important to me to be accountable, reliable, trust-worthy and just like potential clients vet me, I do the same with them so that I align myself with the right companies for my services.
Are you interested in outsourcing your digital marketing services? I would love to learn more about you to see if we could be a good fit! Contact me here to find out.