So much goes into building and running a small online business – from choosing a website builder and adding your products to marketing your business and building a loyal customer base.
Your to-do list grows and grows, and sometimes there’s too much for one person to manage alone. That’s where outsourcing comes in!
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what outsourcing is, the benefits of outsourcing for your online business, and what you should avoid.
How exactly can your small online business benefit from outsourcing? There are plenty of benefits of outsourcing, including the following:
Money matters. And when done right, outsourcing can help you save quite a bit. It cuts down your labor costs and reduces overhead expenses. And, depending on your set-up, it ensures you don’t have to blow a small fortune on expensive equipment and tech that might be needed to run your business.
Outsourcing can help with time management – as a business owner, this gives you the freedom to focus on other priorities. You have an extra pair of hands helping you get more done in less time. For example, if you lack the specific skill for a task, you’ll save time by asking an expert to assist you.
One of the key benefits of outsourcing is flexibility – your business can rely on it as much as it needs, or for just the odd task here and there. When you outsource, you have access to a whole world of talent and skills. This frees you up to focus on what you do best when you need to.
It’s your ticket to a more balanced and flexible business lifestyle.
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There are lots of different kinds of outsourcing, but small online businesses have unique needs. Here are a few of our favorites that bring those benefits of outsourcing:
Unless you’re a tech genius, IT issues can be difficult to manage. Plus, it’s risky because you can make mistakes without realizing it. IT can cover everything from website development and maintenance to ecommerce platform management and cybersecurity.
Small online businesses rely heavily on marketing efforts, so if you don’t know what you’re doing, you only have two choices. Take the time to learn the most up-to-date principles and practices, or outsource the work to an expert. They can lend a hand with all kinds of things, including SEO optimization, content creation, and social media marketing.
Customer Service Outsourcing
Customer service is essential to a small online business, especially one that wants to grow. But, like IT and marketing, it can take a lot of time to do right and it’s impossible to always monitor every inbox or messaging platform.
But when you outsource your customer service, it’s like having your own hotel concierge for your business. They can provide live chat, email support, and phone support. They can even handle order fulfillment and shipping if you need it.
Outsourcing is all about working with the right people – you want to find someone that’s a good fit for your business. They’re representing your brand in the work that they do, so whoever you choose should be compatible with your business values.
So, how do you choose the right outsourcing partner? Follow these steps to get started:
Define Your Outsourcing Needs
Picking the right outsourcing partner starts with knowing what you want. We recommend outlining your business needs and goals before you start your search – what are you looking for exactly?
Evaluate Potential Partners
After you’ve defined your needs, it’s time to check out potential partners online to make sure you have the right fit.
Look at their reputation and experience, see how they communicate, and the value they offer for the cost of their work. Will you work well together? Do they have positive or negative reviews? Do they come across as unreliable or argumentative?
Establish Clear Expectations and Goals
Clear communication is key. Set expectations, define goals, and schedule regular check-ins – while the purpose of outsourcing is to free up your time to work on other things, it’s still important to keep an eye on the work you delegate to others. That way you both know where you stand and what you need at all times.
We recommend that you introduce Service Level Agreements (SLAs) into your working relationship. They’re like a contract that sets clear expectations and deadlines for the services provided. It goes both ways, after all – whoever you outsource work to will likely want to be paid on time and be given reasonable deadlines!
You can use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure performance when outsourcing work. These measurable factors include:
- Turnaround Time: the amount of time it takes them to complete a task or a set of tasks
- Quality Metrics: these are error rates, satisfaction scores, or other measures of the quality of the work being performed
- Cost Efficiency: this is the cost savings achieved by outsourcing
Navigating the outsourcing path can be tricky, and it’s easy to stumble. There are plenty of pesky pitfalls waiting for you, so be prepared ahead of time.
Don’t make the mistake of going for the cheapest option without considering the value. We know it can be tempting, especially when money is tight, but it could end up costing you more in the long run if the work is poor and needs replacing.
Another common mistake is failing to keep communication lines open. Remember, your outsourcing partner isn’t a mind reader. Regular chats, updates, and feedback will keep you both seeing eye-to-eye. Also, don’t ignore cultural differences – each culture has different expectations for working environments and expectations.
We also recommend you avoid surveillance methods like screenshots and keystroke monitoring. It destroys morale and trust in the partnership, and your outsourcer could abandon the job.
Lastly, don’t forget to monitor and evaluate the results of your outsourcing efforts regularly. You need to know what’s working and what isn’t so that you can make adjustments as you go along.
There are so many benefits of outsourcing work for your small online business. Not only can it help you reduce costs, but it can also supercharge your efficiency and flexibility when it comes to work.
Whether it’s IT, marketing, or customer service, outsourcing can meet whatever specific needs your online store has.
Though outsourcing can seem daunting, once you take the plunge, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. So why not give it a go, and see what it can do for you?
Outsourcing can be a real game-changer because it gives you the time to focus on your business, save you some serious cash (compared to hiring full-time staff) and you can get stuff done fast.
But there are drawbacks – you’re not totally in control and what you get might not be what you wanted. Communication can be hard if your freelancer is in a different time zone. And there is a slight risk as sharing sensitive info. Always check references to avoid these problems as much as possible.