Outsourcing is a smart, cost-effective way to expand your team and add specialized skills. These may be skills you only need seasonally, or for a short time period. They may be skills that no one on your team has, or lower-level tasks that you cannot spare your valuable team members to handle. Done right, outsourcing allows a smaller company to focus on core growth activities and rival larger competitors.

How to Outsource at the Right Time

Best times to use outsourcing:

  • When you need work done, but cannot justify another full time hire.
  • When you have a sudden, big influx of work that you need to complete by deadline.
  • When you’re so busy running day-to-day operations that you cannot bring in new business.
  • When you are ready to loosen control and delegate.
  • When you need high-level, executive or professional expertise like legal or a CTO-for-hire (chief technology officer) as a consultant to provide guidance for a crucial situation or help with future planning.
  • When you have repetitious work piling up, such as packaging and shipping orders or data entry.
  • When you need special skills for a single project, like a logo or web designer.
  • Never outsource your core business competencies or the “soul” of your business.
  • Never outsource roles that are key to your mission.

Commonly Outsourced Tasks and Projects

  • Bookkeeping
  • Payroll
  • Accounts payable and billing
  • Data entry
  • Web design
  • IT services
  • Background checks
  • Mailings
  • Marketing or business consultant
  • Ad design
  • Copywriting

Selecting an Outsourcing Partner

When choosing an outsourcing company or consultant, ask colleagues for referrals. Ask outsourcers you are considering for references. Preferably these are companies of a similar size and/or in the same industry as your business. Call to check the references and ask questions about the performance of the contractor/outsourcer. Make sure that the outsourcer agrees to your required service levels. Don’t commit to a long contract until/unless you are confident the outsourcer can deliver.

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