Are you killing yourself trying to get everything done for your home business, yet there are always things that seem to never be accomplished? Well, that should tell you that you’re not going to be able to get it all done alone, and you need some help.
If you have friends or colleagues who are willing to help you for free or for a small fee, then that’s very fortunate; meanwhile, many home business owners won’t have that luxury and will need to seek outside help. You can outsource almost any area for your small business.
Depending on what you’re willing to hand over to a third party and trust them to get the job done properly, it can be an extremely helpful resource to use outsourcing, even if it’s only temporarily, or for certain projects that are particularly demanding. What follows here are just a few examples of things you can outsource, and if you have the means, you should take advantage of outside agencies to handle these aspects of the business for you.
Not Everything has to Be Done In-House
It’s natural that you probably want to handle all aspects of your business by yourself or by your own team, but stay open to the fact that it might make a lot more sense to outsource some things. While it does give you some peace of mind to do everything yourself because you don’t have to constantly stay on top of other people to make sure it’s done properly, there are certain constraints that can prevent you from being able to take care of it all on your own.
For one, there are only so many hours in the day. When you’re answering your own phones, handling customer complaints, filling every order, implementing marketing campaigns, keeping your books in order, maintaining the company website, and a ton of other tasks in between—you barely have time to breathe, or to sleep, for that matter.
There’s also a good chance that you’re not even very good at some of those things. It might not even be physically possible for you to do all of that without help. If you just open yourself up to the option of hiring another individual or agency to take over one or more of those areas, you’ll significantly lighten your load, reduce stress, and free up your time to work on the things on which you should really be working.
You can find experienced, reputable companies who can take care of pretty much anything for you if you need it. If you’re a home business owner who operates completely by yourself, for example, then there is only so much you can handle. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
Outsourcing Order Fulfillment
If you’re a goods-seller, fulfilling customer orders for your items can become overwhelmingly difficult, if not impossible. Once you start getting a high volume of orders, there just won’t be enough time to fill them all without help.
Think about it. Obtaining packing materials, packing every item, making sure they each make it to the right place, communicating with the customer about shipping, charging everyone correctly, and so on, is just way too much for one person to handle when you’re already struggling to stay on top of all the other areas of your business. Imagine a day when you’ve got an extra load of stress.
Multiple customers are calling you for support because they have complaints, you’re preparing for a meeting with your investors, your phone decided to crap out for whatever reason, and then, you experience about four times as many orders as you normally have, with most of the orders requesting next-day shipping.
If you’re lucky, maybe you can call your wife or husband to help with packing the items that need to ship and drop them off to ship on your way to the investor meeting, but what if you don’t have that option? This is just one of many reasons why it is really smart to hire an outside business who can completely take care of order fulfillment. Outsourcing fulfillment instantly gives you back all of that time, and it will be handled more consistently and efficiently, anyway.
Let Someone Else Handle Bookkeeping
This is probably the first thing that you should outsource. Not only is it one of the most undesirable jobs of all, but it’s monotonous, tedious, and very time-consuming. Bookkeeping and accounting tasks are among the worst possible tasks that you can inflict on yourself when you’ve got a business to run, and especially when you’re not very good with numbers.
There’s a high probability of making mistakes, too, which is compounded by the fact that you’re already extremely busy. The last thing you want is to be so stressed and distracted while you’re handling the books, that you accidently pay an employee twice or forget to pay a bill and the Internet gets shut off.
It doesn’t even have to be an outside agency if you’re not comfortable with that. You can hire a person you know who happens to be proficient at it, if that’s an option for you. The bottom line is that this is not a good department where you want to rush through it or have any potential for mistakes because mistakes in bookkeeping can quickly become much larger and more costly problems. It’s one area where outsourcing it is absolutely worth the cost, to ensure that everything is always in order and always complete in plenty of time.
Another area where you really need to have some help is creating the content for your blog, for social media posting, and any other channels where content needs to be written and developed. Everyone thinks that they’re good at creating content that is shareable and that consumers will generally love.
If that were true, though, there wouldn’t be agencies and writers that make a living solely on generating content that will be highly consumable and successful with any market that you happen to be operating in.
Aside from the time that it takes to write it, you then also have to market it properly and publish it for maximum SEO performance. Yes, you can definitely learn how to do that efficiently, but it is a learning process that requires a lot of energy and a good deal of time, and there is a reason why there are people and whole organizations who specialize in this.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for those who are unfamiliar), alone, is responsible for the creation of an entire industry that thrives because of the growing need for professionals who have the knowledge and resources to help businesses to take advantage of the billions of dollars to be made through SEO. It takes a lot more than posting a blog article once a week and linking it to your Twitter account to actually be successful with content marketing.
Again, you can absolutely figure out content creation, curation, and publishing for yourself, but if you outsource content creation and SEO to an outside agency, then they can take over to handle all of it, while you watch the new revenue roll in because of it.
As your business grows larger and your customer base increases, the demand for support and service will grow with it. This is a great thing! Unfortunately, though, the more customers and orders your business has, the more stressful it will be if you don’t have any help it to take some of the load off. This is something that you’ll probably want to handle in-house for as long as you can, but it can quickly become too much for you to manage on your own.
There are all kinds of customer inquiries. There are the simple, quick questions that you can deal with fast, but there are also some customers that have very complex needs and can take a while to completely resolve whatever issues they have.
Beyond that, some customers can make things very difficult, even deliberately, and no matter what they need, it will take a lot of time to serve those kinds of people. The point is that, again, it’s a time issue. As a business owner, you simply don’t have the time to provide support for all those people and still effectively manage all the other aspects of your business.
Customer support agencies understand this and have developed well-designed solutions to handle any kind of customer and any kind of inquiry, dealing with them in a courteous manner using customer service agents who are helpful and never break character. Be honest—you might get angry with a customer from time to time if they are really rude; but agents from the group you hired cannot ever do that.
There is definitely a learning curve as you train a support agency about your specific product and business, so that they are actually helpful to you. Once you are able to accomplish that, however, it takes a huge weight off of your shoulders. These agencies are created specifically to handle support completely, so that you don’t have to.
You always have the option of letting the outside agents defer back to you or your core team if any difficult customer issue arises, so it’s never totally out of your control. It’s just massively helpful to be able to pass it off to other professionals. If you don’t feel comfortable passing off customer support to an outside service just yet, then that’s of course completely fine.
It will give you a lot of peace of mind, though, to know that it’s there if you need it. Most agencies will even give you the option of using them on an occasional or limited basis, too. So, you don’t actually need to pass off service and support completely.
Outsourcing has become a four-letter word, but it’s only really an evil thing if you’re a multinational company putting thousands of Americans out of work because you can get cheaper labor in India. As a home business owner, you’re kind of an unsung hero of the American economy, especially when you’re trying to grow the business and doing everything by yourself without any sort of help.
It can be really tough, and outsourcing is basically just a tool that you can use to make your home business work, as you toil day in and day out to figure out how to continue to be successful into the next 5 years, the next year, or even the next quarter. The struggle is real, and you can’t do everything on your own forever.
If your budget is tight, then start with sourcing out only one area of your business when you can to make the load a little lighter so that you can focus on growing and promoting your company more, instead of using up all of your time to work on things that you can hire other people to do for you.
It’s understandable that you might want to continue to handle everything on your own for a variety of reasons. You might not have the money to outsource anything, you might not trust anybody to do it for you, or you might have a unique type of business that would take a while to teach someone or an outside group how to handle it.
Whatever the case, it behooves you to take the time to figure out how you can outsource certain areas of your home business because it will significantly reduce your stress level while giving you more time to grow your business at the same time.
Check out all of the articles in the series, Growing Your Home-Based Business:
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.