By George Otte
You’ve probably heard the expression: “If you want something done, do it yourself.”
There’s something to be said for taking this type of approach to running your company. But, in the fast-moving, rough-and-tumble business world, it’s simply impossible to stay on top of everything. You need help — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Admitting that you need help is an important first step. Next up: figuring out what do you actually need help with and who’s going to provide it.
Only you can answer those questions. However, unless your company specializes in one of the following business functions, it’s likely that you can start by outsourcing each of them to qualified professionals and service providers that delight in making life easier for their clients. In some cases, these partners can help you partially or fully automate repetitive processes without ceding control over them — achieving the optimal mix of scale and adaptability.
1. Legal Services
Most small businesses don’t need to keep lawyers on call around the clock. Many don’t even have legal experts on their payrolls. However, every small business needs a reliable legal resource that can provide basic services — incorporation, contract creation, confidentiality agreements — in a timely fashion.
One of the most cost-effective ways to outsource legal services to reputable, reliable partners is to purchase a monthly or annual retainer package with a reputable cloud-based company such as LawDepot or LegalZoom. If your legal needs are very basic or sporadic, it might be even more cost effective to simply purchase customized documents as you need them, rather than pay for a membership.
2. Accounting and Bookkeeping
Technological advances have breathed new life into the once stodgy accounting field. Thanks to online accounting platforms such as Xero and Freshbooks, you can now keep your own books with minimal guidance from human experts. When you do need professional assistance, perhaps at tax time or following a complicated transaction, you can turn to a local CPA who charges by the hour or project.
3. Appointment Scheduling and Registration
If you run a business that sees lots of clients, you can probably benefit from outsourcing your appointment scheduling activities using a virtual answering service. Rather than task an onsite staff member with taking appointments and making reminder calls, why not scale with an outside provider that’s well versed in the details of scheduling?
Likewise, if your company sponsors large events — awards dinner, trade shows, holiday parties — it’ll likely benefit from outsourcing event registration to the company that handles its appointment scheduling.
4. Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail marketing is an effective tool for businesses of all sizes and functions. It’s superior to email and other forms of digital marketing in several ways: it can be personalized and customized as needed, it has local cachet, it’s digitally secure, and it doesn’t trip up email spam or promotional filters in the same fashion as its digital equivalent. Retaining a partner to assist with and scale your direct mail marketing efforts can boost your company’s visibility without putting a strain on its human or financial resources.
5. Inbound Call Handling
When customers, prospects, and vendors come calling, who answers? As your company grows, the answer to this question becomes ever more important. Partnering with a virtual answering service to handle and direct your inbound calls is an effective way to control costs and manage time as you expand. Like appointment scheduling, inbound call handling is vital – so why not outsource to experts that can represent your business in the best manner?
6. Customer Relationship Management
Most small businesses lack the manpower to manage customer relationships on a consistent basis, especially if they sell products or services that require lots of hands-on help. Outsourcing this vital function to a trusted partner keeps you on top of your customers’ needs without taking away from other mission-critical activities or requiring you to rent lots of additional office space to handle a larger headcount.
Which business functions and processes are you looking to outsource and automate?