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How to Determine What Can Be Outsourced In Your Business

As a business owner the #1 things you must do in your business are your high-valued activities like sales and serving customers. Outsourcing is a great way to keep you focused on running the business, and with the rise of the freelance or gig economy there are more options than ever to get things done. So think carefully about what tasks you don't have time for, or don't feel qualified to do in your small business and get them handled by someone else.

In many cases, outsourcing is precisely the right choice. If you don't know how to calculate payroll and can't afford to hire someone to do so, the cost of outsourcing will be more than offset by the peace of mind you gain from having a professional take care of it. After all, one tax withholding mistake can be painfully expensive. Sometimes the case for outsourcing isn't so clear.

Here are some ways to determine what can be outsourced for your business.

Keeping Staff to a Minimum

Just because certain tasks require human capital doesn't mean you have to hire a staff member to do them. When you're starting a business, keeping staff to a minimum tends to keep headaches down and outsourcing can ensure you get everything done while keeping costs under control. For example, unless you're starting a tech firm, you probably won't hire a web designer when you start your own business. But trying to DIY your business website can be risky and hard. This is perfect type of job to outsource to a provider with a good track record. They'll not only know how to do the job, they may think of things that never crossed your mind, like designing your site so that you can add e-commerce easily at a later date.

Which Tasks Do You Need Only Occasionally?

Say you run a small, office-based business, like a law practice or accounting firm. The few people on staff can probably keep the place reasonably clean on a day-to-day basis, but every once in a while, the office needs a thorough cleaning. Hiring a cleaning service to do this has many advantages. You won't have to worry about resentment over chore assignment, and a professional service can bring in their own tools and products and take them away when they're done. Similar "occasional" necessary tasks are perfect for outsourcing: effective, easy, and cost-efficient.

Remember: Outsourcing Relationships Still Need to Be Managed

Outsourcing certainly makes things easier on your staff, but you do need to have business relationships with the providers you hire and communicate up front how success will be measured. In some cases, "managing" the relationships may be as simple as a monthly they send you to show results. In other cases, as when you outsource complex tasks, like payroll, you will have to have a good working relationship with your provider because you will be in regular communication, and you don't want to dread having to call when a question or problem arises.

Tasks to Consider Outsourcing When Starting Your Own Business

You can outsource just about anything these days, but some jobs are more commonly outsourced. Bookkeeping is often outsourced because it requires precision and isn't usually the kind of thing someone can tackle in addition to their ordinary duties. Website design, content creation for your website, and social media management are other popular tasks to outsource.

Tasks that have a major impact on operational performance and that are strategically critical should be retained in-house when possible. These are typically your core competencies so you would be doing them anyway. Outsourcing can free you up to do what you do best in your business, just be sure to get referenced and hold meetings to make sure they understand what you expect and how often you wish to hear from them.


If you're ready to start your own business, I encourage you to download two free chapters of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months for practical, actionable advice about making the transition from aspiring businessperson to confident small business owner. 

About the author

Melinda is a founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small businesses.