Outsourcing refers to the process of hiring another individual or a company to handle some of your business activities. It is not a new concept, in fact modern outsourcing gained its stride in the early 1990s and studies show it has doubled in value since 2000.
As a business owner, you can outsource some of your tasks (to either domestic or foreign individuals or companies) and easily gain access to new skills while saving time and money.
If you have one-off tasks that happen on an infrequent basis, it makes no sense to hire a full-time employee to have them on standby. Similarly, if you don’t have particular skills, it's a wise decision to find someone with those skills, rather than spending time trying to do it on your own.
Outsourcing allows you to do what you do best—run your business and handle tasks you’ve been trained to do, rather than missing deadlines, or not completing projects due to a lack of skills and time.
If you’ve been wondering whether you should outsource some of your business tasks, this article is for you. We’ll cover what tasks you can outsource, the pros and cons of outsourcing, and how to decide if outsourcing is right for your business.
Note: If you need to outsource quickly, we have a professional community of designers, developers and creatives ready to fill your project needs at Envato Studio.
What Tasks Could You Outsource Effectively?
The main idea behind outsourcing is to lower your costs wherever possible and save you more time in the long run. Following that principle, tasks that you can outsource usually belong in these types of categories:
- accounting and bookkeeping
- sales and marketing
- design and manufacturing
- administrative and back office assistance
- customer service
- web development
- website maintenance
- graphic design
- and much more
In some cases, you can find freelancers or other companies that focus on providing one specialized service such as web development. Other times, you will be able to use the same company for several tasks such as graphic and web design or coding and development.
7 Advantages of Outsourcing
As hinted earlier, outsourcing comes with several benefits that make it appealing to businesses both small and large. Here are a few key benefits of outsourcing.
1. The Talent Pool Is Larger
As opposed to the traditional hiring process, outsourcing allows you to find talent all over the world. Thanks to the internet, anyone with a particular set of skills can market their services online. They are no longer limited to finding employment locally. Business owners like yourself can readily find contractors halfway across the globe.
Outsourcing certain tasks to people outside of your country can be extremely beneficial, if those tasks involve providing round the clock customer service, on call technical assistance, or completing one off digital projects.
2. Lower Costs of Outsourcing
Whether you’re outsourcing locally or internationally, your costs will be significantly lower than bringing on another person to perform tasks that only happen every so often. Instead of paying someone on a regular basis for work performed once every couple of months, you're paying for the task at hand—at the time you need it done.
What’s more, if you choose to outsource to a foreign country, keep in mind that the currency exchange rate may work in your favor, allowing you to spend less.
As a final point on costs, you don’t have to worry about expanding your business space or renting bigger offices when outsourcing versus traditional employment.
3. It Forces You to Create Business Processes
You’ve probably heard that every business needs to document their processes, but many small business owners are far too busy to sit down and put them down on paper. If you plan on outsourcing then you are forced into process documentation to ensure the outsourced tasks are carried out according to your specifications and quality standards.
The hidden benefit behind outsourcing and business process creation is the fact that you will be able to track employee progress and make them more accountable. Assigning tasks to employees also becomes easier because everyone can have a clear view of everything that needs to be done as well as how it should be done.
4. Specialized Talent and Better Tools
You may be the greatest florist that ever lived, but that doesn’t mean you’re a great accountant or a graphic designer, too. Outsourcing allows you to find people that have skills needed to complete the tasks you have no idea how to do.
Not only will you appear more professional, the project will be carried out using tools meant for it rather than hacking together your own version. Your tax return will be a lot easier to file if your accounting or bookkeeping is done using accounting software rather than a bunch of spreadsheets and a shoebox full of receipts.
5. Your Customer Support Can Be 24/7
If your business relies heavily on providing customer support round the clock, outsourcing this aspect of your business overseas makes a lot of sense. Finding someone in the opposite timezone means they can be there for your customers when you can’t.
6. Outsourcing Give You More Free Time
When you have another individual or a company handling tasks that fall outside of your expertise and knowledge, you have more free time to focus on what you were trained to do. It allows you to come up with new marketing plans as well as new products. In other words, you can focus on working on your business rather than in your business.
7. Outsourcing Allows You to Scale Your Business
The last major outsourcing advantage is that it allows you to scale your business. By taking some of the tasks off your employees’ shoulders, they can spend their time focused on activities that will allow your company to scale. Ultimately, business growth is vital for any business and you cannot effectively grow if your already-limited time is spent doing things that would be better delegated elsewhere.
4 Disadvantages of Outsourcing to Be Aware Of
As beneficial as outsourcing is, there are certain disadvantages associated with it that prevent many business owners from making the jump. In this section, we look at some of the disadvantages of outsourcing, which may impact your final decision:
1. Potential Security Risks of Outsourcing
Letting an outside company or an individual handle some of your more sensitive tasks bears an inherent risk of leaking company information.
You can help avoid this by drawing up a non-disclosure agreement and have them sign it before agreeing to work with you. Alternatively, limit outsourcing only tasks that don’t require handing over confidential company or client information.
If you know you’re going to outsource your tasks on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to also perform a background check on the company and take a look at their security policies.
2. Requires You to Give Up Some Control
Most business owners like to have complete control over their companies. However, this idea is not a beneficial one if you want to scale your business without incurring too many costs.
As mentioned earlier, unless you have multiple degrees, chances are you won’t be able to handle all of the tasks related to your business. Not only that, but if you take up tasks you don’t have the knowledge for or time for, you can incur a more significant cost than simply letting someone else handle it.
3. Quality Control May Be Hard to Maintain
Quality control may be harder to establish and maintain, especially if you outsource overseas. To avoid the risk of taking a hit when this happens, establish and document your product creation process as well as the exact service process. Also, work checkpoints into your approach. A part of your outsourcing research should include looking at testimonials and references of the person or company you’re considering, so you pick the right candidate to outsource to.
4. Possible Language Barrier When Outsourcing
It’s not uncommon for many businesses to outsource their tasks overseas. Due to currency exchange rates, it’s a lot cheaper to hire a freelancer from Europe or Asia than it is to hire someone three states away. However, in those cases, you have to be aware that the freelancer or the company may not have a perfect command of your language. For some tasks, this doesn’t pose a significant problem.
But for tasks that rely on communicating with your clients such as customer support, it’s imperative that the person you hire can understand your customer as well as be understood with ease.
Should You Outsource?
Weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing is the first step toward making the right decision for your company. You also need to consider which tasks you are comfortable with outsourcing to someone else and which would be better handled in house.
The answer to that question largely depends on the nature of your business. Most small businesses can outsource tasks like marketing on social media. Creating graphics or print material such as brochures and updating or maintaining your website can also be outsourced in order to save you time.
Data entry, on the other hand, depends on the data itself. Dealing with confidential and sensitive information may be better handled in-house to minimize the risk of information leaking out. Similarly, some tasks like accounting and bookkeeping might be better handled in-house and in such cases, bringing another person onboard is more cost-effective rather than outsourcing it every month.
Before reaching your final decision, consider the following:
- Do you have the know-how and the tools to do it yourself?
- Do you have the time to do it?
- Is there a security risk?
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then your business may not need to outsource anything. Bear in mind, though, that even if you have the know-how and the time to do it, your business growth may stall if you continue to do everything yourself.
If the answers, on the other hand, are a resounding no, then your business can definitely benefit from offloading those tasks to a third party. There are ways of ensuring the quality of your service and product is maintained, as well as protect sensitive information and keep it private.
Where to Find Great Outsourcing Talent
If you decided that outsourcing is the way to go, the next question becomes where to find the talent that you need. Luckily, the Internet has plenty of solutions.
One of the ways to find a freelancer or a company with the needed skill set is by asking your peers for recommendations. Another way is to do a little Google searching yourself.
While there is nothing wrong with either of those methods, one of the best ways to find a reliable person to handle some of your tasks is to use a freelancer marketplace like Envato Studio:
Envato Studio is a great place to outsource tasks like creating custom graphics, updating your website, editing your podcast episodes, or coming up with a unique promotional video for your products.
You’ll also find writers who can handle content creation for your blog or come up with sales-driven copy for your product descriptions. Other tasks also include optimizing your WordPress website for SEO or improving your page load times.
All you have to do is select the type of service you’d like, choose the provider that meets your requirements, and review and approve the project once it’s completed.
Key Benefits of Working With Envato Studio
The benefit of using a third-party marketplace is that you don’t have to worry about the quality of the work because the initial curation will be done for you. Each freelancer marketplace has their own vetting system that helps them select only the best experts in various fields such as design, writing, marketing, and more.
Another perk of using Envato Studio is that all the details and the costs are displayed upfront so you won’t run into any unpleasant surprises such as hidden fees. You can pay for one project deliverable at a time. On top of that, both the buyers and the sellers are protected by a robust resolution process to minimize the risk of unsatisfactory service.
Are You Ready To Start Outsourcing?
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to outsourcing; from deciding what needs to be outsourced in the first place to making sure your business gains the most benefit by saving you time and money.
Once you have a clear understanding of how outsourcing can help your company and know what tasks you will outsource, you can start searching for the right talent. Use Envato Studio to find freelancers to handle your website and graphic design needs as well as coding and development.