How To Choose What To Outsource In Your Small Business First

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20% of small businesses fail within the first year?!

Let’s start with an all too common scenario for small businesses that don’t survive the first year or two.  Entrepreneurial minded Leah, mum of 3, started a boutique online store. She gained a decent following on Instagram with her quirky Reels and authentic behind the scene selfies.  Her biz was going pretty well, she made sales, but she put 90% of her time into the social media posts that generated those sales.

In the meantime, she fell behind on other aspects of her business, and it was stressing her out. The tax stuff (argh), dealing with refunds (argh), postal delays, supplier problems, website issues…

Six months later, feeling incredibly defeated, Leah decided to close her small business. It was just too stressful.

As a small business owner, can you relate to the struggles Leah faced? She was excelling at marketing her products, but all of the other (boring) business stuff made the wheels fall off. 

Trying to do all of the things yourself can cause problems in business

Most people excel at the things they enjoy, or their core competencies. Other aspects of business are best left to those who are experts in that area. From handling finances to inventory management to sales promotions and marketing, you’ll need to consider outsourcing, to create a thriving small business – that stands the test of time, and you still love – years later. 

It’s time to outsource – but what?

But once you decide to outsource, how do you decide what to outsource first? Here are a few different approaches to make the decision easier.

Know your ‘problem areas’

The first step is to identify your weaknesses. Small businesses commonly have issues in bookkeeping, tax filing, marketing and admin tasks. When you identify your weaknesses you have some great candidates for outsourcing. 

Weakness #1: It takes YOU too much time

In a business, time is money. Anything that takes too long is a problem. If following all of the tax rules and recommended bookkeeping practices is killing half your day (and your will to live) – or you find yourself avoiding it, it's time to outsource that function.

Identify which tasks that are not in your zone of genius, and take up time during your day. That’s the first set of tasks you want to let go of. Really, anything that’s outside your zone of genius, and keeps you away from the stuff you excel at, should be outsourced. 

Weakness #2: The costs don’t add up

Sometimes, you need to take an objective look at where you are leaking money in your business. Sure, you might actually enjoy messing about in Canva to create your social media posts – but it takes you ages because (let’s be honest), Canva is not your first language. You’ll either outsource the design to a professional, or buy templates from Creative Market.

Where else are you ‘messing about’ in your business for little monetary return? Think about outsourcing this to someone with expertise.

Just avoid outsourcing the main functions where you have the expertise, as it’s hard for someone else to replicate your vision and direction.  

Weakness #3: It uses too much resource

Any function that takes too many resources may be a good candidate for outsourcing. For example, if you manufacture fabrics, you might need a sales team to reach out to potential clients and sell your products. 

If they’re paid employees, they might also need space, utilities, computers and phones etc. Maintaining a sales team – for example – can be a hassle and require a lot of resources. 

You could instead, outsource it to another company that specialises in sales. This way, you free up resources and have more time to focus on what moves the needle in your biz. The quality of the sales service will also likely improve. 

Weakness #4: It needs too much of your oversight

Proper oversight of every area of your small business is crucial to getting the results you seek. But this requires you to spend lots of time and energy ensuring quality every step of the way – which can be difficult in areas outside your expertise. It usually leads to surprise elements and delays as a result. 

You can outsource these functions to companies that deal with them, day in and day out. They’re responsible for the daily management along with performing those tasks. It's probably easier to let the experts  take care of your import worries rather than doing it yourself. 

Weakness #5: It’s not performing well

There are metrics for gauging the performance of each area of your small business. Look out for the ones not delivering and that fall outside your zone of genius. 

You could start by outsourcing a poor performing function first. Again, find someone who specialises in that area and outsource it to them. You already know what your baseline for performance is, so you can check in on performance results on a monthly or quarterly basis. 

The bottom line – consider outsourcing before you give up

The outsourcing process will help ensure that your small business continues to grow. You can’t master every aspect of the business. If you ever feel that a specific function of your business is affecting your performance in the core areas, it is probably a good time to outsource it. 

Once you consider all the factors mentioned above, you can see which business functions are good candidates for outsourcing. Don’t throw it all in before you consider outsourcing! 

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