Outsourcing tips for small business owners

Freelancers and small business owners can find their businesses really take off once they learn how and when to outsource certain tasks.

There are so many benefits - from cost-savings to expertise, to more “mental bandwidth” - and we know these advantages exist as we’ve seen them firsthand, many times over.

Yet, upon hearing of all the wonderful benefits, some people can feel really nervous about handing over control of some parts of their business, and it can be hard to let go.

What are the benefits of outsourcing for creative businesses?

A big benefit of outsourcing is that it makes the most sense from a financial perspective.

If you outsource efficiently, you can scale up your business, and free up time to actually make more money!

You have expertise that should be utilised, so free up your time to do that and delegate any other tasks.

Outsourcing saves you from paying a full-time staff member in order to do this. You can even have various people, excellent in their own specific areas, to whom you can outsource.

Another glorious benefit of outsourcing is it allows you to take back your time to create. After all, you probably started your business in order to be creative and follow a passion, not to sit up all night filing your tax return or managing emails.

10 tasks to consider outsourcing

When looking at tasks to outsource, consider these three factors:

  • Things you hate doing
  • Things you simply can’t do yourself
  • Things you shouldn’t be doing

Using these categories will help you draw up a focussed list of tasks to hand over and will give you the best return on any investment.

These are the 10 most common tasks for small businesses to outsource:

1. Bookkeeping and accounting

Having your books, payroll, and tax obligations in order is vital to running a business. However, they can be complicated and tedious …unless you relish number crunching as we do!

When outsourcing these tasks, it’s worthwhile differentiating between bookkeeping and accounting. Accountants usually charge a much higher rate than bookkeepers, so there’s money to be saved in using a bookkeeper rather than an accountant for the following:

  • Invoicing
  • Paying bills and keeping track of them
  • Payroll technicalities and processing
  • Preparing financial statements

A bookkeeper who is a registered BAS agent can also lodge:

  • BAS, IAS, PAYG, and Annual GST

With your books in a good state, you can then hand them over to your accountant at tax time. They can use their eagle eye to discover deductions you might not have known were available.

2. IT Management

If you are a freelancer or running a small business, you likely will not need a full IT team on-call every day. You might, however, need technical support on a project basis or retainer basis.

By outsourcing this business function, you are not paying for a full-time resource. You’re just paying for what you need.

IT management services will be able to help you with crisis management (for example if you’ve lost all your data or your laptop is throwing a tantrum) as well as long-term growth and strategy (helping you to implement new tools and technologies slowly and carefully so that you can create sustainable growth for your business).

3. Website or portfolio creation

If you rely on having a portfolio of your work and experience, then it pays to invest in this.

Artists, web designers, and musicians especially might need demos or portfolios to win jobs or secure projects.

Therefore, you can outsource this job to a graphic designer or producer or someone else with the skill set you require.

4. Copywriting and content creation

If you need any form of written content, you might consider asking a copywriter for help.

Copywriters can help you with:

  • Web content
  • Blog articles
  • Product descriptions
  • Sales pages
  • Advertising
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media content
  • Brochures or flyers

If content creation is a part of your marketing and PR strategy, then a copywriter can help you with regular content for blogs, newsletters, videos, brochures or catalogues – and keep you on track to meet your content goals.

5. PR and media management

If you need to generate publicity or manage media enquiries, it might be worth outsourcing this to a publicist or public relations manager.

Publicists and PR managers can be expensive, but they often already have the ears of influential people in specific industries. Also, self-promotion isn’t easy for everyone, whereas these professionals aren’t shy about spruiking their clients!

6. Marketing

Looking to build a website, work on your SEO, set up Google Ads campaigns, or monitor social media? There are many elements of marketing that you can outsource, which will not only save you time and stress, but also ensure it’s done right.

If you’d like to invest in advertising, a marketing professional can direct you to the best media for getting the most bang for your buck and can show you ways to measure the results.

Facebook ads, for example, might seem an easy DIY option, but there are optimal ways for setting up even those. In any medium, you don’t want to just be throwing money at the wall and hoping something sticks.

7. Administrative Tasks

Many administrative tasks are either repetitive, time-sapping, or not much fun.

Repetitive processes can often be automated with software programs, so outsourcing to the robots is a good first option. For any others, outsourcing to a virtual assistant (VA) can be a clever strategy.

A good general VA is an all-around rock star – and can carry out a range of general admin tasks. Whereas a specialist VA might be an expert in one area (such as online business management, event organisation, or copywriting).

What can you outsource to a VA?

  • Scheduling
  • Responding to chat questions on your website
  • Sending appointment reminders
  • Event management
  • Inbox management
  • Content creation
  • Social media management
  • Public relation tasks
  • Document formatting
  • Stock management
  • Data entry

A virtual assistant can help you complete administrative tasks without even coming into the office! You can find a VA that meets the skill set you require by looking on a VA directory such as Virtually Yours.

Of course, you can use an offshore VA, and it might be cheaper but remember you get what you pay for. An Australian VA will know more about your business and any local regulations or cultural matters.

8. Customer Service

Do you have an online shop? Do you work at events? Any business that deals with customers will need to have a solid customer service strategy.

This could include replying to online enquiries or managing returns. It could also include lead generation or client nurturing after a purchase or booking.

9. Human resources

Whether you have just one employee or hundreds, you might benefit from specialist human resources support.

Think about all the associated elements of employment - contracts of employment, disciplinary procedures, and legal employment advice - even if you plan to manage 90% of the function in-house it's a good idea to have a HR contact on hand for any of those unexpected incidents that need expert support.

10. Business planning

As well as outsourcing individual tasks, you can also outsource your overarching business planning.

Want to get help with strategy design or find a business mentor? Running your own business or working as a freelancer can be a bit lonely. You might not have a team around you to help with the mental load of running a business, or to help you grow the business.

When it comes to financial planning, or long-term growth goals, you can benefit from having a financial planner or business coach in your corner.

How can creative business owners outsource for success?

Here are 5 top outsourcing tips for small business owners:

  1. Harness the power of automating repetitive tasks with the use of technology - Choose what you want to outsource and look for tasks that can be automated. For everything else, look to outsource (remember, think about those tasks that you hate doing/simply can’t do yourself/shouldn’t be doing).
  2. Define goals/metrics upfront - Clearly define your outsourcing goals (these might be cost savings, quality improvement, efficiency, augmenting skills) and set up a method of monitoring these metrics.
  3. Choose carefully – Ask for recommendations or join networks and find the right people with the right skills. Do your due diligence - Google them, look at their LinkedIn profile, website or business Facebook page.
  4. Make sure you have the time to explain what you need – If you choose the right person, they shouldn’t need training as such, as they should already be an expert in the tasks you are asking them to do, but you will need to allocate some time and effort to communicate what you need, how you wish to communicate, and what your goals are.
  5. Payment terms and time management – How is the time being billed? When will you be invoiced and what payment terms do they offer? This can change from provider to provider. Don't assume it's 30 days or even that you'll be paying GST.

So, are you ready?

In summary, the benefits of outsourcing are:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Access to more expertise
  • The ability for more “mental bandwidth”
  • More time to scale your business and make more money
  • Access to the power of automating repetitive tasks with the use of technology

At Counting Clouds, we can help you grow your business through optimal bookkeeping methods, payroll management, ATO lodgements and cash flow forecasting, which in turn can help you set goals and plan for the future.

Please email us or call us if you do need to chat:

[email protected]