To many entrepreneurs, the idea of "outsourcing" is a concept as strange as the keeping strict 9-to-5 hours. Which is to say that it seems like something that belongs in a large corporation, not a micro-startup or small business.
But if you're used to wearing every hat -- answering customer service calls, builing your own website, making the product and then beating the street selling it -- you might be surprised at what a little strategic outsourcing can do for your potential for growth. Just think about it -- if you outsource the things that you don't need to do, you free up a lot more time for the money-making tasks of concentrating on growing your business.
And with outsourcing options avaliable at every price range imaginable, affording to take a load off just got a lot simpler.
So what can you outsource? Let's take a look at some common pain points for entrepreneurs and how they can be addressed through outsourcing.
You know your logo is an eyesore. Your website just looks drab. What can you do? Designers cost big bucks, right? Well, not always. An outfit called 99 Designs holds design contests that connect businesses with a crop of options. 99 Designs is a boon to small businesses because you can choose from a number of options, and you don't have to pay if you ultimately decide they don't work for you. Prices start around the $300 mark, making a spiffy new logo within reach of even the smallest shops.
Technology Setup and Questions
The last thing you need while you are crafting a business plan is for your hard drive to go kaput or a key application to mysteriously disappear. Many large retailers like Apple offer custom setup for small business users and will gladly answer your questions for a time after purchase. Stymied by a mysterious error message or a convoluted software installation? Try AnswerQi. They will connect you with a qualified expert -- which sure beats surfing random message boards for hours looking for a solution.
Various Skilled Labor
If it takes time and you're not required to be there, outsource! TaskRabbit has made a name for itself through just this sort of arrangement. Need to drop something off with a vendor or go shopping for supplies? Just post it to TaskRabbit and a member of their carefully vetted team of hardworking Rabbits will spring into action. TaskRabbits can also handle virtual office tasks like research and entering all of your business cards into one place. Wouldn't it feel nice to have it all organized for once?
Taxes and bookkeeping
FreshBooks is a great solution for invoicing, and Outright makes simple the process of tracking your business income and expenses. At tax time, look for an experienced local accountant. You'll often be surprised at how reasonable their rates are, and the seasoned expertise they bring will save you in the long run.
Anything and everything
In his book The Four Hour Workweek (Compare Prices), Tim Ferris writes about his quest to outsource any kind of work he doesn't enjoy (in fact he recommends it for even those of us who still have desk jobs). All exaggeration aside, a booming business for virtual assistants exists out there, and you can take advantage of it. For more on how to do this, see Tim's book or check out the site of outsourcing guru James Wedmore.
Ready to start outsourcing? You'll want to get organized first -- that's the best way to get the most bang for your buck. Read this informative article on how to get the most out of an outsourcing relationship.