By outsourcing, you can improve productivity at your business and increase the quality of some crucial processes. Better yet, you can do both without needing to grow your internal team. In particular, a few activities stand out as the best things to outsource if you’re looking to scale.
1. Administrative Tasks
A large amount of work that falls outside your job description (but takes up the majority of your time) is likely administrative. The problem with admin work is that it tends to be tedious and makes you feel like you’re wasting your time. When you outsource your tasks, you’ll find it much easier to stay motivated.
A top choice for outsourcing admin work is a virtual assistant, as many VAs specialize in clerical tasks. VAs can often complete admin tasks faster than you’d be able to — and will give each activity their full attention. Best of all, just about every admin task is suitable for delegating to a virtual assistant: from scheduling and inbox management to data entry and placing orders.
2. Web Development and Design
Just about anyone can set up a website from a template — but the result will be far from professional if you have no experience. Your website is your online business card: it represents who you are, often forming the first impression of your company and having a major impact on branding.
The great thing about web development and design is that they are two of the most common activities to outsource. Few companies require full-time web designers and developers on their team, meaning most of these professionals work freelance. For you, this translates into plenty of choice. You should be able to find someone within your budget who has the relevant experience.
3. Graphic Design
Just as you need a professional website, you need high-quality graphics. What you’ll be able to do on your own is limited, but luckily graphic design is a cost-effective task to outsource.
Most businesses only need a few graphics a week, plus some extra when they’re undertaking a website redesign, releasing an ebook, or running a print marketing campaign. At most, this adds up to several hours a week. By outsourcing, you can pay per image or per hour. In either case, you’ll only be paying for time the graphic designer spends working for you.
4. Customer Service
Customers (and even prospects, for that matter) expect fast responses. When you’re a small business, this is challenging — you need to drop everything whenever you receive an email, instant message, or phone call. If you delay, you could miss out on a repeat sale or even a new customer.
Outsourcing all your business tasks related to customer service will mean that clients and leads are never left waiting for a response. This will increase your chances of positive reviews, and any negative reviews you do receive will have a thoughtful response that other users will see. Plus, when you outsource to an experienced professional, you’ll be able to offer exceptional customer service, which has a number of additional benefits.
5. Accounting and Bookkeeping
Through bookkeeping and accounting outsourcing, you can eliminate everyday financial tasks from your schedule. In fact, unless you come from a financial background, you should consider accounting outsourcing essential. It will take you far too long to learn all the correct procedures and processes yourself to ensure you remain compliant.
It’s likely that you could handle bookkeeping on your own, but it makes no sense to do so, especially if you’re strapped for time. It’s critical that you carry out all your bookkeeping tasks meticulously and on a regular basis to ensure you’re always working from up-to-date, accurate information. Few business owners are happy to commit to this. Besides, bookkeeping is another task that a virtual assistant can take on — either the same person who handles your admin or a specialist bookkeeping VA.
By outsourcing both accounting and bookkeeping, you’ll cover financial planning, payroll, budgeting, and everything else related to finances that doesn’t require your direct input.
6. Digital Marketing
The basics of digital marketing sound relatively simple. However, putting everything into practice and seeing the desired effects is a different story. In fact, digital marketing is among the most complex activities that keeps your business running — making it ideal for outsourcing.
Through outsourcing, an expert can design your marketing strategy and determine how all the different components will work together. You’ll also have the choice between outsourcing to an agency or a freelancer. With an agency, you’ll receive the full range of services you need — SEO, content marketing, PPC, social media, and more.
However, if you or anyone else on your team has knowledge of one of these areas, you may prefer to opt for a freelancer for now and just outsource a selection of activities. Later, you may decide to outsource more marketing tactics to continue scaling your business.
Even an excellent marketing strategy will fall apart unless you follow through with the right sales pitch. There’s much more to sales than just cold calling and chasing up leads. An outsourced sales professional will create funnels for you and make sure there are always new leads in the pipeline.
In addition, outsourcing sales enables you to act fast. Too often, a lead is ready to purchase, but the business is slow to respond — in 2011, Harvard Business Review found that only 37 percent of businesses were responding within an hour. Leads that don’t receive a response fast enough may go to a competitor.
Finally, having a sales expert working for your team will increase your profits. Sales reps know how to upsell and cross-sell. They can reach new markets (often ones that are underserved or neglected by competitors). They may also have access to technology (and knowledge of how to use it) that could be unavailable to your company, especially if you’re a small business.
8. Social Media Management
Even if you use an agency to outsource your marketing, you’ll likely find it useful to hire a virtual assistant to manage your social media. This is because maintaining a social media presence requires several hours a week — not quite enough for a full-time worker, but plenty to outsource to an individual.
An advantage of outsourcing is that it allows you to gain the full benefits of social media. Rather than posting content and hoping for the best, a social media expert will create a strategy and analyze the results to keep improving. This will involve figuring out when is the best time to post, what content resonates with your audience and leads to the highest engagement, and where there is potential for new opportunities.
If you currently lack much of a presence on social media, you can find someone to set up profiles on platforms where you’ll be able to reach your audience. If you already have some accounts, the social media expert can ensure these are optimized. Then, to make sure you stay active, the expert will respond to comments and messages as well as posting new content — including when you’re too busy with other business matters to give social media a second thought.
9. Conversion Optimization
If you’re going to grow your business, increasing conversions is essential. Many people are unaware that conversion optimization is even a possibility for business outsourcing — actually, it is a top activity to delegate.
Think of it this way: the majority of the traffic to your website is not yet ready to convert. However, with some nurturing, many users could become customers in the future. Conversion optimization involves turning to the data to see how users behave and using this to predict what will lead to more conversions. This involves testing and monitoring constantly to make improvements.
If you try to manage conversions on your own, you may end up relying on guesswork. However, if you outsource to a professional, you’ll know that you’re taking the right action at every stage. In addition to providing you with a strategy, an expert can implement conversion optimization tactics — beginning with the right type of content to generate leads all the way through knowing when to push for a sale and designing follow-ups with customer support.
10. IT Services
Let’s end with a no-brainer: IT services. Unless you’re a large corporation, it’s unlikely that you have the infrastructure to handle all your IT in house. Whatever your field, there are a large number of IT services that you likely want to outsource.
For instance, most businesses want some sort of managed IT services. You may also like to outsource hardware support whenever you need repairs or want to dispose of an old piece of equipment. Plus, for ongoing support, it may make sense to outsource a help desk.
Entrepreneurs often start out feeling like they need to be in control of everything to turn their dream into a reality. Most quickly realize the impossibility of this. Outsourcing tasks allows you to focus your attention on the aspects of business you do best without needing to hire anyone permanently until your budget allows.