Running your own business entails a lot of hard work and is extremely time consuming. Not only do you have to focus on the core operations of your business, ensuring it is as efficient as possible, provides the best customer service, the highest quality products and, above all else, is profitable, but you also need to monitor the internal requirements such as staffing, IT infrastructure and other necessary services that enable it to run.
It is tempting for a business owner to keep these sorts of operations in-house, both to retain complete control and to reduce costs. However, this is not always the best way to go about things. Firstly, it can distract from the main focus of the business and secondly it could end up costing a lot more than anticipated if things go wrong and the right expert assistance is not there or the right contingency plans not in place.
Outsourcing certain services and requirements can provide the answer but deciding which of those services to ‘hire in’ and which to keep in-house is not easy. These are just some of the services you could outsource to free up your time and allow you to focus more on your business and its profitability.
Marketing and Public Relations
There are many benefits to employing a marketing team and / or PR officer in-house. In addition to retaining control, an in-house team knows the intimate workings of your company and is slightly better placed to be able to deliver the right messages to your target audience. However, the cost of this can be large as marketing professionals do not come cheap and it is likely that as your business grows your team will have to grow accordingly, thus increasing that cost further. Outsourcing to a specialist marketing agency comes with its own costs and you lose a little bit in understanding of what your company is trying to achieve and the messages it is trying to get across.
However, there are significant benefits too – costs can actually be far more controllable and a budget set within which an external agency has to operate within. The understanding problem can be overcome with good communication between you and the agency and you will have more time to concentrate on your business as agencies tend to be able to work more autonomously than an in-house team, as well as having access to a much greater field of expertise. If you are comfortable in finding an agency you can trust to deliver your key messages then this is one service you can definitely move out of your own business.
IT Support and Services
Whether you are just starting out or an already established business, the cost of your IT infrastructure can be large. Your business will rely on telecommunications, email, internet, data storage and a myriad of other IT-related products and services that, should you shoose to procure, install and manage in-house, could turn out to be a huge drain on your profits. Many businesses also fall into the trap of leaving it to someone on their stiff with “a bit of tech knowledge”, which might be ok when it comes to setting up an IT infrastructre. But when things go wrong – and going down this route will more than likely mean it will – that “bit of tech knowledge” will likely be found lacking. You’ll need to go outside for the solution, which will be hugely expensive and will take time and all the while your company will be losing money in lost sales and enquiries.
Outsourcing your IT support and maintenance from the outset will incur a monthly cost, so you need to be aware of this, but it does mean that any downtime will be kept to a minimum or completely eradicated and that when the time comes to upgrade or expand your IT infrastructure you have the support and specialist knowledge at hand to do so smoothly and cost effectively, whether it is hardware or software. It also means that all your data, including customer data, is kept secure. Of all the services you can outsource, IT support is the one you should look at first.
The main problem in looking for your own staff is that it can be extremely time consuming, taking you away from the matters that really need your attention. It can also prove costly as if you choose the wrong people your staff turnover could be too big, resulting in poor customer service or lost sales. Employing the services of a recruitment consultant – especially one that specialises in yoru industry – will reduce the time spent advertising and interviewing for new staff and will reduce the risk of employing the wrong candidates. There is, of course, a cost to this and quite a sizeable one up front but in the long term it could prove more cost effective than doing it yourself.
Deciding which of these and many other services should be outsourced is one of the skills successful business people have and if you want your business to succeed it’s one you will need to learn and hopefully quickly. Weigh up the initial costs of employing specialist agencies against the long term benefits they could provide you and your company – you might be surprised at the decisions you make, but they could turn out to be amongst the best.
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