Employers in the U.S. outsource roughly 4.5 percent of jobs (around 300,000) each year. Some choose outsourcing to reduce costs or expand their talent pool, while others do it to increase productivity.
If you’ve been on the fence about outsourcing, this guide is for you. It breaks down the benefits of outsourcing, explains how it can be a game changer for your business, and shares insights into how you can outsource effectively.
Benefits of Outsourcing
Some people are hesitant about outsourcing because they don’t understand how it can benefit them or their business. If this is the case for you, here are some perks you might be missing out on:
Consider the cost of hiring a full-time or part-time employee.
First, you have to determine their hourly wage or annual salary. Then, you must factor in other expenses, like employee benefits and increased office overhead from having more people present.
Don’t forget the other expenses associated with hiring new people — paying for ads, taking time away from your job to review resumes and conduct interviews, etc.
When you outsource, you typically pay a flat fee, and in most cases, this option is much more cost-effective than hiring an employee.
Outsourcing saves you a lot of time and gives you more freedom to focus on core aspects of your job.
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent who spends a couple of hours per day handling administrative tasks like scheduling, distributing documents, and responding to emails.
If you outsource these tasks to a virtual assistant, you would have more time to do the parts of your job that only you can do, such as showing houses or attending closing meetings. You can also get more done in less time since you have someone else handling administrative work while you tackle other commitments.
Improve Work-Life Balance
In addition to increasing efficiency and giving you more time to focus on core competencies, outsourcing can improve your work-life balance.
Imagine you no longer have to spend hours a day on repetitive or time-consuming tasks. You’ll likely have more time to dedicate to other things, like spending time with your loved ones or going to the gym.
When you make more space in your day for things you enjoy, it’s easier to manage your stress and avoid burnout. These benefits can also improve your productivity and help you get more done.
Access More Skills and Resources
Like everyone else, you have a very particular set of skills. However, that set of skills might not include everything you need to do in a day to run a successful business.
Let’s return to the real estate agent example above. Maybe you’re great at connecting with clients and selling houses, but you struggle to stay organized and manage all the paperwork that comes with your job.
Instead of wasting time and resources trying to learn how to be more organized or better at managing documents, why not outsource these tasks to someone good at them?
When you start outsourcing, you gain access to a larger pool of professionals who possess the strengths your company needs. By acknowledging what you’re good at and outsourcing what you’re not, you can set yourself up for increased productivity, happier clients, and more satisfactory business outcomes.
Accelerate Time to Market
If you’re getting ready to launch a new product, outsourcing can accelerate your time to market and help you start generating revenue sooner. Outsourcing increases productivity and enables you to stay on schedule (or possibly even get ahead).
Even if you handle all of the actual product development processes yourself, you can still use outsourcing to improve your product launch.
For example, you can outsource digital marketing tasks like search engine optimization (SEO) or content writing to boost your online reach and get people excited about the product before its official release.
Avoid Employee Turnover Issues
Many people assume that outsourcing means taking a job away from someone else. That’s not always the case, though.
Outsourcing can also help you retain your current employees.
Let’s say you outsource your employees’ repetitive tasks (such as administrative work) and give them more time to handle other aspects of their job. This decision can improve their productivity and help them improve their work-life balance, resulting in more job satisfaction and loyalty to your company.
What Can You Outsource?
You can outsource almost any position or task. However, some are more common than others.
If you have too much on your plate and need to lighten the load (but don’t want to or can’t hire an employee to help you out), you might want to consider outsourcing one (or all) of the following responsibilities:
Administrative Support: Preparing and organizing documents, sending and responding to emails, scheduling appointments, answering phone calls, etc.
Customer Support: Responding to customer questions, concerns, and complaints
Project Management: Assigning tasks, monitoring progress, managing budgets, etc.
Human Capital Management: Recruiting, human resources, payroll, etc.
Digital Marketing: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), copywriting, editing, etc.
Social Media Management: Copywriting, editing, content moderation, data analysis, market research, etc.
Sales and Lead Generation: Prospecting, generating, qualifying, setting appointments, following up, etc.
Think about how much time you could save by outsourcing these tasks to someone else. What could you do with all that extra space in your calendar?
Overcoming Common Outsourcing Obstacles
Outsourcing offers plenty of perks. However, it also comes with some unique obstacles that you might have to overcome, including these:
Hiring the Right Person
You need to hire skilled, reliable professionals to enjoy the benefits of outsourcing.
To avoid partnering with someone who isn’t a good fit, you must conduct in-depth interviews and review portfolios before making decisions. You can also work with an agency that does the vetting for you.
Long Hiring Periods
When you handle the vetting and hiring aspects of outsourcing on your own, it can take a long time to find the right fit. However, many agencies guarantee a good match within a set period, meaning you can start enjoying the benefits of outsourcing sooner.
Working with an agency can help you overcome many obstacles associated with outsourcing. However, you must remember that not all agencies are created equal.
When you work with some agencies, you get stuck with long-term contracts and waste money, especially if you’re not happy with their services. Stick to agencies that offer multiple options, including month-to-month contracts.
Remember, if their services are good, they shouldn’t need to trap you with a long-term contract.
Confusing Payment Terms
Some people also get frustrated with outsourcing because of confusing payment terms. Whether they’re working with a freelancer or an agency, they might get hit with surprise fees or other extra costs.
To avoid this issue, only outsource your work to professionals who offer transparent pricing structures. This decision helps you budget more effectively and feel confident in what you’re getting for a specific price.
Tips for Effective Outsourcing
Following the tips discussed above can set you up for a positive outsourcing experience. Here are some bonus tips to help you and your business see the best results from outsourcing:
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
It doesn’t matter if you’re outsourcing digital marketing or HR-related tasks. You must set clear goals and expectations.
Let your virtual assistant know what you need when you need it, and how you want it done. The more clarity you provide, the easier it is for them to do good work.
Check-in with your virtual assistant consistently, too. Ask for regular progress updates to ensure they complete tasks according to your specifications. When you communicate often, catching issues early and correcting them is easier.
Start with Small Tasks
If you’re still wary of outsourcing but are interested in its benefits, consider starting with a small task. Outsource a few low-stakes tasks to a virtual assistant to see how they do. If you’re happy with their work, you can give them more responsibility in the future.
Finally, be transparent. If you notice a problem, point it out and explain why it’s an issue. Explain how it should be fixed and prevented in the future as well.
Build an Incredible Virtual Team Today
Are you convinced that outsourcing is right for your company?
Whether you want to partner with a virtual assistant to handle administrative tasks or a remote customer service team to offer round-the-clock support, outsourcing is an excellent strategy for businesses of all types and sizes.
If you want to start outsourcing but aren’t sure how to find suitable matches for your business, our team at ClearDesk can help. We can find you perfect dedicated virtual assistants who can help with administrative support, customer support, project management, and more.
Book an appointment today to learn more!