10 Tasks You Should Outsource to be More Productive
Today, companies that want to grow know what they need to do: outsource. While most small businesses start with a single founder or pair of partners doing it on their own, workloads eventually outpace time and energy, and SMBs are forced to adapt. While hiring an in-house team is the logical first step, lots of founders and entrepreneurs are also recognizing the value of outsourcing.
Ideal for any company that wants to cut costs, increase output, expand offerings, and become more productive, outsourcing is an excellent way to support the growth of your business without burning yourself out in the process.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Rise of Outsourcing
In recent years, the number of companies who outsource some percentage of their content, scheduling and customer support, data management, or IT has exploded. Today, for example, more than 62% of companies outsource their content marketing and some of the successful startups out there, including Slack and Skype, were built with the help of outsourced development.
Although large companies might have the resources to do everything they need in-house, smaller businesses and startups don’t often have that luxury. This makes outsourcing key duties an attractive way to 10x growth. What’s more, outsourcing can allow companies to re-allocate their in-house resources for more efficient workflow.
10 Things All Small Businesses Should Outsource
Whether you’re a solopreneur just finding your legs or a quickly growing partnership with your eye on the future, outsourcing these ten things can save you money, energy, and time:
In 2015, The Huffington Post reported that U.S. workers spend an average of 6.3 hours checking their email each day.
Excuse me while I catch my breath.
It goes without saying that that is a massive chunk of time that could be better spent. If you find yourself buried under a flood of inbound messages, consider outsourcing your email tasks to a virtual assistant, or VA.
While Upwork is my go-to source for VAs, you can also find them in private firms across the country and throughout the world. A good VA can help keep your inbox under control by deleting junk emails, responding to customer service inquiries, scheduling appointments, and integrating commitments with your calendar. What’s more, decent VA services range from $7-$20 an hour, so it won’t break the bank.
Worried about allowing a VA access to your email? Use a tool like G Suite to give the VA his or her own address, and then direct customer service inquiries and appointment requests there. That way, all you’ll have to do is check in with the final product, rather than wading through the process.
If you’ve been managing your own content, you know exactly how time-consuming it can be. In fact, one of the biggest reasons so many small business owners fall behind on their content creation is because they don’t have the time to write and publish material while also running a company. While this is a common reality, blogging is too important to ignore.
According to Impact Branding & Design, websites that blog have an average of 434% more indexed pages and earn 67% more leads than their non-blogging counterparts.
Luckily for you, you can take advantage of these benefits, even if you don’t have time to write and post your own blogs. How? Outsourcing. Today, content is one of the most commonly outsourced business responsibilities, so there are dozens of ways to access it.
First, you’ll have to choose whether you want to work with an agency or an individual. Agencies typically staff several writers with a variety of specialties and backgrounds, which makes them ideal for any company that needs a fair amount of top-tier content.
If you work with an individual, you’ll get the benefit of having a one-to-one relationship with your writer, although costs may be slightly higher and you won’t have the “safety net” of knowing there’s a team of writers working on your content.
Beyond just being convenient, outsourcing your blogging also produces more professional, diverse, and engaging content for your company.
3. Invoicing and Bookeeping
Invoicing takes up a ton of time for most small businesses. Fortunately, a handful of companies specializing in outsourced invoicing. Safe, secure, and accurate, these companies have the potential to reduce your operating expenses, simplify cash flow management, and get rid of the headache associated with chasing clients down for payment. Here are a few of my favorite outsourced invoicing options:
Billtrust handles B2B and B2C invoicing for a variety of companies around the globe. Online payment-equipped, Billtrust guarantees the timely delivery of paper bills and tracks all your invoices from issuing and payment.
Bench is an online bookkeeping service that allows you to access real, human teams that will handle all of your bookkeeping needs. All Bench’s bookkeepers are professionals with clean background checks, and they’ll handle everything from your monthly financial statements to year-end tax prep for you. While the services can be a bit pricey for some, they offer a free trial to see if the service is a good fit for you.
Bill.com is one of the most comprehensive services out there, offering help not only invoicing your clients but also managing the invoices your company needs to pay. Simply decide on your payment method, use the platform to schedule online invoices (or plug it directly into your existing accounting software), and enjoy all the spare time it will create for your company.
4. Social Media
Outsourcing social media has dozens of benefits, including but not limited to accountability, reliability, better content, and more spare time for you. Most specialists who write online or SEO content can also offer social media management services.
Alternately, you can outsource your social media to a dedicated firm that can handle everything from building new profiles to running ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
If your business offers products or services that rely on research, or if you’re looking to expand into a new market but need to do your homework before taking the leap, hire a VA to do some preliminary research for you.
Perfect for collecting stats to use on your website or building the groundwork for a content series, excellent research can separate your brand from the rest, and outsourcing the research duties can save you time and effort.
Did you hear about Amazon’s recent $150 million typo? A mistake on the part of the company’s storage service team, the typo cost upwards of $100 million in profits and caused a wide swath of the company’s cloud-computing service to go down.
Talk about an “oops” moment.
Even if the stakes aren’t quite this high for your company, great editing is a big deal. Unfortunately, few managers have the time, energy, and know-how to do it on their own.
If you publish your own content, write white papers, use social media, or develop paper brochures or marketing material, hire a remote editor to comb through it before it goes live.
Not only will you get better results, but you’ll also save the time and embarrassment that could come from a costly typo or sloppy writing.
Trust me. I once saw a founder misspell the word “public” as “pubic“ all throughout a professional report. As in, “the department of pubic affairs.”
Don’t be that guy.
7. Video Creation
Today, video content is one of the hottest things on the web. In addition to the fact that customers are watching and interacting with more video than ever before, videos are also being used as a powerful marketing tool that can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of a landing page or website. In fact, Forrester reports that adding a video to an email can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.
The unfortunate part is that creating video content is tough. If you want a nice animated video like the one on Headspace’s main page, for example, you’ll need to learn some rudimentary animation skills, which will take you weeks.
Even if you only want to record a video of yourself speaking, you’ll need some basic know-how and the right equipment to produce something that doesn’t look cheap and shoddy.
As such, many companies choose to outsource their video creation. In addition to saving you the learning curve associated with doing it yourself, outsourcing your video content will also ensure a better product and a large ROI. You can find great video services on sites like Fiverr and Upwork, as well as through private freelancers.
8. Web Design
When I built my first website four years ago, I did it all wrong. This lead to an expensive, time-consuming, and headache-inducing content migration a few months down the road, a complete overhaul of the site structure (three times), lots of curse-worthy moments over the next year, and a total loss of about $300.
With that in mind, take it from me: outsource your web design.
Building a website takes dozens of hours, even when you’re good at it. While you could go the drag-and-drop route with a tool like Wix, you’ll enjoy a much more functional and scalable site if you hire a WordPress expert to build a self-hosted site on the .org platform or outsource your web design to a specialist from the get-go.
9. Data Entry
If you’re a solopreneur, you know the unique pain that comes with entering your expenses into an Excel spreadsheet. Fortunately, you can get rid of that pain by outsourcing these responsibilities to a VA or similar professional. Just be sure that you’re not outsourcing anything that includes sensitive personal or financial information or, if you are, that you’re choosing a reputable VA firm rather than a freelancer.
10. SEO (Technical & On-Page)
SEO is one of the top things people outsource in today’s digital world. While it’s a critical component of ranking well online, it’s difficult to master, and few people but full-time SEOs understand the nuts and bolts of the industry. What’s more, doing SEO wrong can have major consequences, including the down-ranking or deindexing of your site!
Instead of struggling through it alone (and putting your site’s standing at risk in the process), hire an SEO firm that can help you identify issues, create long-term goals, and optimize your digital presence.
The Case for Outsourcing
While “outsource” used to be a dirty word, times have changed. Today, most successful companies use a mixture of outsourced professionals and in-house teams to create a successful and upwardly mobile business model.
No matter where you’re at in your founder’s journey, outsourcing can help you reach your goals. From doing the research required to develop a product to creating blog and social media content you’re proud to attach your name to, outsourcing is a critical tool for anyone who wants to run a successful business in the modern world.