All small business owners lack one thing: time. In fact, time is an issue for almost everyone in the modern world. Our professional lives are perpetually demanding. Often there’s no break between tasks to appreciate success, and whereas big businesses divide their work load across a large team of employees, small businesses often don’t have the budgets to support extra staff. Ironically, the senior members of the team end up doing the most time consuming and administrative tasks when they could be outsourced to someone who’s not only better at specific tasks, but also significantly cheaper.
Think about social media, which, done properly, requires at the minimum two to three hours of your time daily. If you value your time at £50 an hour, but there’s someone who could do it for £10 an hour and at a higher standard, then it seems obvious to outsource. The art of delegation is essential to the success of small businesses, but one of the hardest skills to master.
To help get you started Richard Walton, Founder and CEO of AVirtual shares ten everyday jobs small businesses could be outsourcing:
Detailed and effective research is hard to come by; usually because no-one has the time or the patience to trawl through the mass of information available. Finding relevant and reliable sources could quite easily be a day’s work. That said, good research is vital for staying up to date on recent industry developments, for preparing you for meetings and even for helping you to establish a successful business strategy. And, it’s an easy one to outsource because it doesn’t necessarily require any background understanding or much briefing.
The management of invoices, bills and office expenses is often best outsourced to an expert who can dedicate their time entirely to your finances. You can rest assured that everything is accurately recorded, your budgets updated and your clients invoiced, whilst you concentrate on growing the business. If you’re worried about the security of outsourcing to someone outside of your team, there are plenty of trusted applications, such as LastPass, that guarantee confidentiality. It’s also a good idea to work with a reputable company rather than an individual as they will be able to offer you extra support and security.
3. Social media
Most businesses now accept the huge benefits of an effective social media strategy, but there’s still the issue of finding the time to develop that strategy, generate good quality content and regularly post across the multiple, ever-evolving platforms. If you’re looking to stay ahead of competitors and retain a loyal fan base, you really need to assign social media management to a professional who can monitor your channels 24/7. Again, it’s worth finding a specialist company for this task as you want to be sure that they understand your company’s goals and have their own support team in case any of any technical issues.
4. Business leads
The task of finding new business opportunities and following up on leads is hugely time consuming and requires expert organisation so that you know exactly who to contact, when you last contacted them, whether they replied, what they’re looking for etc. If you find a professional who understands your goals and the industry you’re working in, this can be a really useful task to delegate even if you’re just looking for a spreadsheet of names and email addresses.
5. Diary management
There are so many scheduling tools now available online, making the virtual management of your diary easy and effective. It’s a really great task to outsource to a professional personal assistant who’s used to juggling a busy diary and can organise your time so that you’re really making the most of every minute. The best part is that when you’re travelling or working abroad, your virtual assistant can still seamlessly update and adjust your diary, taking into account the change in time zone and effectively coordinating cross-country conference calls by supplying the various dial-in codes.
6. Travel arrangements
A dedicated travel assistant is essential for most international businesses. Planning itineraries, booking hotels, transfers, comparing flights, ordering currency and organising visas is a hugely tedious and stressful process particularly when you’re already travelling. There’s nothing worse than spending hours coordinating meetings which then all change to a different location so you have to rebook the hotels and change the flights with less than 24 hours to departure. You could call up a travel agent, but usually that means paying premium prices to wait in a queue for your call to be answered. Outsource the job to someone who can handle the job virtually, present you with different options, advice and deals to save you more money wherever you are in the world.
7. Presentation of data
People underestimate the importance of a well-designed presentation. When you’re showcasing your company to the public or in external meetings, the presentation of the information is almost as important as the information itself. Outsourcing to a designer who can prepare a guide or presentation in half the time it takes for you to figure out how to use photoshop will save you an enormous amount of stress and demonstrate that your business puts thought and care into every aspect.
8. Database entries
Updating or creating spreadsheets of contacts, mailing lists or subscriptions is an area of general administration that’s often sidelined in small businesses because no-one has the time to keep on top of it, but well organised databases can be useful tools in the smooth running and expansion of a company. You can outsource the management of such spreadsheets to a professional who charges by the hour so that you’re only paying for the time they are actually working on the task. It saves you the frustration of never being able to find the email address of someone who handed you their business card three weeks ago.
Given the numerous regulations and tax laws, the management of payroll is usually best assigned to a specialist who will avoid you making costly mistakes. Rather than hiring a full time accountant, you can find an organisation to take care of payroll as and when you need. They can also assist with setting up the appropriate software to suit your business.
Hiring a reliable and skilled team is essential to the success of any business, but it’s not an easy task and as always, takes time especially if you’re recruiting internationally. Find a professional who can manage the process for you by advertising the job vacancy, reaching out to potential candidates, putting together a shortlist and even arranging the interviews in person or over Skype. One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing recruitment to a virtual freelancer or a company is that they can tap into a wide network of contacts all over the world to find the perfect candidate to suit your needs.
For more ideas, make a list of all the tasks your team do on a regular basis, and work out which are eating up the most hours and which areas you’re struggling in. Those are likely the tasks you should be outsourcing to strengthen your business, improve office morale and ultimately, save you money.
Richard Walton is the Founder and CEO of AVirtual