Updated: Feb 8, 2021
How outsourcing can lead to your business downfall if you do not follow these 5 practices.
As your small business grows, your time shrinks. New clients, phone calls, emails, invoices, and proposals – and more – can eat up all of your time. Whether you have a small team or you’re running a solo operation, you may find that you’re working yourself down to the bone, burning the candle at both ends and sometimes in the middle. Let’s say that you decide to offload some of your work to a third party to help ease the burden. You pay professionals who are specialists, and you’ll get the time you need for some R&R and sleep. Just pay a fee, and your problem disappears. Or does it?
Outsourcing is not something new, and quite frankly, the results are mixed. On paper, it is a great idea for businesses that need to scale but do not have the ability to hire the workforce to do so. Company A contracts Company B to make a product or perform a service so Company A can focus on something else. One of the biggest problems, however, is that today Company B can now outsource to Company C, D, E, F, and so on to get the same job done that Company A paid Company B to do. What can happen is that the quality of your product or service may not be as good as the old days when you did it all yourself. The quality issue may in fact eat up that extra time you were attempting to save, because now you have no control over quality or when the job gets finished.
So is that it? Should you just give up on outsourcing and resign yourself to a lack of sleep for the next thirty years? Not quite. While you need to be aware of the worst case scenarios, there are ways to find quality individuals and companies that can in fact take care of you and do what needs to be done. Here are some tips for getting some sleep and finding the outsourcing help you need:
1. Reevaluate your schedule
If you feel like you are overwhelmed with work, the first thing you should do is consider your schedule. Proper scheduling can make the difference between getting your work done in 8 hours or 20 hours. Use your calendar of choice (paper or digital) – or even a spreadsheet – look at your work week, and plan out how long it takes to do each task. Give yourself a specific amount of time to accomplish a particular task, and stick to it. Do not go over your time limit.
If you finish a task early, move on to the next one, or work on a task that you did not previously have enough time to complete. At the end of the day, if there is a task remaining that you were not able to accomplish, simply shift it to the next day. The goal is not to shove tasks into the future but to learn exactly how long it really takes to get particular tasks done and to understand where your strengths and weaknesses are.
2. Closing time means closing time
Technology today allows you to work “24/7,” but working yourself to the bone hurts not only your health but also your business. You may have met people who live the “Hustle Life,” getting up at 4:00 a.m. and working until midnight or later and doing it again the next day. However, you can get far more accomplished by forcing yourself to have downtime. With proper scheduling, if you give yourself 8 to 10 hours to do a day’s worth of work, you can in fact get as much done or more than if you spread out your work over a 20-hour day.
3. Ask the hard questions
Think of your company like your child. When you outsource, ask yourself, “Do I trust my child with these people?” While many companies will provide persuasive marketing and assure you that your “child” will be in good hands, at the end of the day your child needs the best care, and sometimes the best care is you. Ask pertinent questions like:
What will you do for my company?
How long will it take if a revision must be made?
How difficult will it be to get in touch with someone?
Will I work with the same person or with someone different each time I contact you?
You should also determine what your exit strategy will be if you are unhappy with the work. Look up the company’s reviews, ask others in your niche, and even talk to the company’s competition to learn as much as you can.
4. Get everything in writing
Getting everything in writing is imperative and gives you some legal protection. Write down all of the answers that you are given to your questions, and get paperwork that spells out the services to be rendered and the payment due. Should any misunderstanding or disagreement emerge, you can refer to your notes. Getting everything in writing also allows you to read over your notes and make sure you didn’t overlook anything before you claim that something went wrong.
5. Be ok with saying no.
Usually when we ask for help, we listen, and we often take the advice that’s given. Should you? Many of the suggestions that you will hear for growing your business may sound odd. Others might cause you to change some of your bad work habits for the better. However, if you feel that what is being asked of you compromises the ethos of your business, do not hesitate to say no.
Remember that you are the one in control, and relax. The power of “no” can open more doors than you may think. Some companies will go out of their way to work with you to meet very precise and specific needs, but almost always, there is already an ideal company that works within your niche that is already in sync with your practices and ethos
*BONUS: Security and privacy
Security and privacy are paramount for businesses in our digital age, and the concerns grow by the day. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and security “chains” are no different. Unlike in the movies where you see a hacker sitting in front of a computer for hours trying to find a back door or using a virus to bring down a system, the majority of the time they get everything they need the old fashioned way. Talking. In 2017 Frank Abagnale Jr. said:
“First of all, every single breach, every breach, occurs because somebody in that company did something that they weren't supposed to do, or somebody in that company failed to do something they were supposed to do. Hackers do not cause breaches. People do.”
These words should stick with every business owner from the small one man shop to the multi-trillion dollar companies. If you are going to trust anything with your business you need to find out how they are taking care of your data for your business. You do not need to delve deep into learning how encryption works or have a deep understanding of how to code, but asking the simple questions of
Is all sensitive data secure (in storage and when transmitted) and backed up on a routine basis?
How Is My Business Protected from Emerging Threats?
Do you have your users use 2 Factor Authentication for logging into their portal?
Now the sales rep may not know the answers to all of your questions, but if they really care about onboarding you to join their family, they will find out and get back to you. If they give a simple we have everything under control answer , let them know that if you want them to trust your data to their company, they will give you a solid answer. Remember it only takes one person to slip up to take an entire company down.
Just a few questions like this are highly pertinent to answering if the outsource company is right for you.