How to Use Outsourcing When Your Business is Too Stretched
When you run your own business, especially if you are a sole trader or single entrepreneur, time very definitely is money – but there’s sometimes not enough time to do everything you want to do or that need doing. That’s where outsourcing certain routine, yet essential tasks can come in – while costing you very little money, outsourcing many of your administrative tasks can gain you the extra time that allows you to better concentrate your efforts on growing your business.
While there is often a natural aversion towards delegating jobs out to others for many entrepreneurs, the time can quickly come as your business grows where you can be stretched too thin and this is where things can really start going wrong. This is when outsourcing to a company such as Your Virtual Office can come in to solve a lot of your problems.
What exactly is outsourcing?
Quite simply put, outsourcing is when a business owner hires a third party or another business to complete a certain task or process on their behalf. There are lots of reasons why businesses choose to outsource – maybe you don’t have the necessary skills to perform certain tasks properly, maybe you don’t have the available time to focus on your daily tasks, or you want to get things done a certain way that no-one in-house can manage.
There are lots of terms used to describe outsourcing including ‘business process outsourcing’, ‘offshoring’ when carried out abroad or ‘nearshoring’ when carried out within your home country. But whatever you call it, it can be a great way for businesses of all kinds and sizes to keep on top of their workload, keep up with their necessary reporting requirements, and even improve their administrative systems. While it does cost a little money to outsource your everyday tasks, it can be worth it when you have that extra free time back to focus on something else that is a bit more productive or beneficial for your business growth.
Outsourcing in the UK
Here in the UK, outsourcing is catching on fast and is growing into a big business with the value of outsourcing deals said to be worth around £6.3 billion a year. Customer services make up around 17% of that figure yet only 4% of customer service contracts were signed offshore in the last year.
Further, in the first half of 2017, there were £5.2 billion worth of outsourcing deals agreed which already shows a 23% increase on the same period last year – meaning more businesses than ever are using these useful options.
Business owners are seeing that outsourcing essential every day tasks such as business call handling, mail sorting and forwarding, and even using a complete virtual office, as well as other essential tasks such as accounting and payroll, can prove more profitable in the long run. Normal administrative tasks can take up a large chunk of your day, but are not exactly a productive use of your time. The time spent opening your mail and taking telephone calls is very time-consuming but don’t actually do anything to increase your profits or add to your bottom line. However, these administrative tasks are an important and essential element of your business that you cannot afford to ignore or put off.
By outsourcing many of your daily tasks to professionals, such as Your Virtual Office, you can successfully re-focus your efforts towards more productive tasks safe in the knowledge that your essential business administrative needs are being taken care of.
You can read more about the benefits of having a virtual office in our blog post: Why would your business use a virtual office?
Pros and cons of outsourcing
Like anything, there are pros and cons to outsourcing anything for your business and it is up to the business owner to weigh these things up before making a decision.
For example, delegating a service to an experienced third party who is professionally trained in the task can be much cheaper than trying to do it by yourself, or trying to get someone within the company to multi-task where this may not be their strongest point. Accounting, call answering and mail sorting are all classic examples of this – while you can do your own accounts, answer your own calls and open your own mail, small business owners have a number of other important tasks to do each day and tasks are the ones that can get easily away from them.
It really doesn’t take long for a backlog of mail to build up. It can get to a point where you become too afraid to tackle the mountain of mail and may choose to ignore it in favour of something much more interesting. However, this can have serious consequences for your business. What if you miss important statutory mail coming from HMRC or Companies House? Statutory mail will usually have some deadlines attached for reporting or responding to queries. You could find yourself served with a hefty fine for failing to respond or missing a deadline. Quite often the fine could cost you more than the service charge for outsourcing your mail sorting for an entire year!
Bringing someone into your business as an employee to do the job full or part-time can be an alternative, but many businesses find this doesn’t work very well for them. With the cost of wages, training and the equipment needed for the task, as well as the extra facilities, office space, holiday entitlement and pension scheme to work out, it is often more expensive to do this than to simply outsource the task to professionals.
Outsourcing can help to keep a business in a lean position while still managing to get everything done. It allows you to get essential tasks done when you need them, but without having to pay employee wages to someone when there is nothing for them to do. This means you can use your wage budget for people who are needed within the business on a daily basis instead.
Realities of outsourcing
The key to success in outsourcing is to highlight what tasks the business really needs to outsource. For example, incoming calls can be a big issue, especially if you are a sole trader or single entrepreneur working by yourself. If you don’t have someone there to answer your incoming business calls, you can miss out on lots of potential new business. But employing staff means having an office, a reception area with equipment and, of course, a receptionist.
However, by outsourcing your call handling tasks, you are effectively only paying for the service without the need to supply the working environment or employ any staff. This allows the business to field those important incoming calls and make an instant, professional impression on the people calling without any need for a full-time receptionist. Companies who have gone down this route and outsourced their business call handling have seen a high percentage of previously lost opportunities now being captured and successfully acted upon.
At the end of the day, each business owner needs to assess what is best for their individual business. Finding the right companies to outsource to is another big issue and learning to work with these service providers rather than them working for you is another area of adaption. But once you find the right partnership, outsourcing can make a massive positive impact on your business and give you back that crucial time to get more important stuff done.
Putting your administrative tasks into the hands of seasoned and experienced professionals, such has Your Virtual Office, can be a great weight off your mind. You can then be free to follow your dreams and focus on your business without having your precious time bogged down with mundane, yet essential administrative tasks. Why not contact us today to discuss your virtual office needs.