As a rule of thumb, if you and your current staff can’t perform a certain task well, outsource it. Small businesses can reduce costs and improve productivity by outsourcing technology tasks, according to an article on the Fox Small Business Center website. Handing off tech chores to qualified providers helps you stay focused on priorities such as sales, product development and customer relationships.
The key is to make sure you outsource the right jobs, which will vary depending on your business model and internal expertise. For many small businesses, outsourcing the following six tasks will help you increase your productivity.
- Website development and design: Professional looks and reliable functionality speak volumes to current and potential clients. Yes, you could probably slap something together on your own, but your website is a crucial communication and branding tool. Just because there’s a new tool or program out there that can help you do something yourself, it doesn’t mean that’s the best strategy for your business. Instead, try outsourcing web projects to a design agency or an experienced local freelancer.
- Infrastructure: Building a network can be expensive when you add up the costs of hardware, ongoing maintenance and the know-how needed to keep it running. For many small businesses, a cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model is a cost-effective and convenient option. Cloud solutions also tend to scale well, providing the flexibility to add functionality and storage as your business grows.
- Customer relationship management (CRM): If you’re juggling more than 50 customers, a cloud-based CRM solution could streamline your sales process. Services like Salesforce, HubSpot and Spark can track your customer interactions, helping you to better leverage those relationships for future sales and referrals.
- E-commerce tools: Protecting your customers’ financial data isn’t a project for do-it-yourselfers. For most small businesses, using a single e-commerce provider makes it easy to create an online storefront, process credit cards and secure transaction data.
- Social media: Entrepreneurs may learn a lot about their market by handling their own social media at first. However, when social media starts taking up too much time, don’t abandon it. Instead, try to hand off these tasks to a social media manager or strategist.
- Business applications: Customized software may offer advantages, but for most small companies, it’s expensive overkill. Standard cloud software such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps provide plenty of functionality, while the service providers handle the maintenance and support.
In the end, it’s important to know your business and your strengths, and use outsourcing to address your weaker points. Again, remember that rule of thumb: If you and your current staff can’t perform a certain task well, outsource it.
Which technology tasks would you recommend small business owners outsource? What has worked for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Source: Fox Small Business Center, June 2013