There’s a lot of buzz around the best way startups can save time and money. While you can follow trends and anecdotal advice, there’s one surefire way you can best use your resources: outsourcing.
What exactly is outsourcing? It’s the process of hiring outside contractors, businesses, and freelancers to handle tasks you’d prefer to avoid in your day-to-day.
Outsourcing gets a bad rap because it’s commonly associated with poor customer service. The key to successful outsourcing is to make the process seamless. Your customers shouldn’t know the difference between your freelancers’ work and your own.
This comes from committing to spending enough money to get quality content and responses. The good news is this will still save you money and time in the long run, especially as a startup, since outsourcing saves you the cost of in-person office spaces, training, insurance, and other expenses of in-person employees. Here are 4 different areas where outsourcing can improve your business.
Blog Posts & Marketing
A great way to get started with outsourcing is to find a freelance writer. The Internet makes this incredibly easy; sites like Upwork and pages like the Cult of Copy Job Board take all the guesswork out of finding the perfect writer. Contact promising writers and ask them for writing samples and their working rate. Then, hire them temporarily for a test article, so you can see if they’re a good fit with your brand.
You can get ahead of any potential confusion by creating a style guide. This should include the proper spelling of your company’s name, your mission statement, preferred style of citing sources, any branded copy you need to be included, and phrases you’d like the freelancer to avoid. By doing this, you’ll save both writers and yourself time. Think of it as an FAQ section.
Our tip: Over time, you’ll develop a relationship with your writers, and they’ll get a feel for what you prefer. However, you need to establish the proper tone for your copy from the first interaction. It’s not worth trying to coach a writer into a style you prefer. Invest the time into finding a good fit from the beginning.
Another area to outsource is your marketing and graphic design. You’re going to need a stellar website, marketing materials, and cohesive branding for your startup. The skills to learn programs like Photoshop and InDesign can be self-taught but will take precious time you could be devoting to other, more crucial tasks.
Check out sites like Fiverr for design freelancers; they allow you to choose from specific categories like logo design, packaging design, web design, and a lot of others. Find an expert and let them make your vision come to life.
Our tip: Check out your competitors. You should get a sense of what the visual landscape looks like online in terms of branding. If everyone else in your industry uses similar branding and imagery, figure out why and make a decision. If your company has a unique look, that alone could be the difference between a customer checking your site first.
Hiring a virtual receptionist is a smart move, especially for startups and small businesses. A virtual receptionist can do everything a traditional in-house receptionist can do, at 1/10th of the cost. Answering the phone is crucial to your day to day success; you need to make sure current clients and leads can always reach a live voice. However, it’s just not realistic for you to try to catch every call without severely impacting your productivity.
Virtual receptionists are the solution. In addition to taking calls, they can schedule appointments, integrate information with your CRM, and qualify leads.
Our tip: Stay away from answering services. The verbiage might sound the same in their advertising, but the difference between an answering service and a virtual receptionist means the difference between an excellent customer experience and a poor one. Paying under $1.50 per minute might sound like a smart financial decision, but the results will be bad for your business. Cheap prices = bad service.
Bookkeeping is “one of the least popular administrative tasks for small business owners,” says American Express. With good reason, too! All the figures and consistency of bookkeeping is immensely stressful, and if you do any step incorrectly, it can make your taxes a nightmare. While you of course need to understand exactly what goes into the bookkeeping process, you can let someone else crunch the numbers for you. There are a lot of companies that can do this for you, like Bench and Integra Bookkeepers.
“Whether a business needs current financial figures to present to a banker or it just needs to keep tabs on cash flow, keeping up to date on accounting tasks is essential,” says Accounting Department.com. “An easy solution is to outsource bookkeeping to a professional service.”
Move Forward With Outsourcing
Outsourcing is a smart decision for small businesses. Make sure you stay ahead of the competition by utilizing freelancers for writing, branding, reception, and bookkeeping, and focus on making your business the best it can be.