Small Business Best Practices For Outsourcing Business and Marketing Activities
I don’t need to tell you that as a small business owner, you have a lot going on day in and day out. One look at your calendar, inbox, or stack of voicemail messages paints a picture. In your position, it can often seem like you have to “do it all.”
Or should I say: one look at my calendar/inbox/whatever. It’s a disaster and I’m not proud of it, but it’s the life of an business owner.
Might there be a better way to accomplish your business goals? The short answer is yes. Outsource as much as you can!
This is a bit of, “do as I say, not as I do.” I’m really good at outsourcing some things, but sometimes struggle to let go of others. On the whole, though, over the nearly 13 years that my agency has existed, I’d say I’m winning on the letting go wars! And you can too.
If there are business and marketing activities that you wrestle with, outsource them!. Doing so will allow you to do more of what you’re good at and less of what you’re not. Before you head down that path, here are a few things to think about.
Step One: Identify Exactly the Work You Want to Offload
The first step is to clearly identify the type of work you want to outsource—and what you want that to look like. For example:
Outsource Your Marketing
Marketing is one of the biggest challenges businesses face. Unless you’re a business owner who also has a marketing background, marketing strategy and mechanics can feel overwhelming. There’s so much to cover:
- Content marketing (website copy, assets like one-pagers, case studies, testimonials)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Webinar development
- Paid advertising
- And much more…
Even if you have all of those in hand, you have to pull everything together in a focused marketing strategy. Are your eyes glazing over yet? It is a lot, especially when you have your business to conduct beyond the marketing pieces.
I’m not going to lie. It is a lot to manage. Yet, marketing is crucial to business growth. It doesn’t matter how innovative your business solution is or if your product is knock-your-socks-off fantastic if consumers don’t know about it. You can also have the greatest sales team among your competitors, but they’ll spend a lot of time twiddling their thumbs if marketing isn’t sufficient or effective enough to get consumers through the door.
So: Outsource your marketing! Of course, I’m going to say: Call me! We can do it for or with you! But there are many other ways to outsource, as we’ll discuss later in this post.
Outsource Your Financial Management
Does the financial aspect of running your small business put your brain in a frenzy (balance sheets, P&L statements, cash flow records)? That’s not surprising, especially if you’re more of a right-brained creative innovator.
The good news here is you may not need someone with CPA, CFA, or CIA credentials (read: expensive). Oftentimes, a skilled bookkeeper is experienced enough to perform key financial duties and comes in at a more reasonable price point.
We hired a wonderful bookkeeping team a couple of years ago and it has made a HUGE difference in our business. I no longer worry about sending invoices on time or reconciling bank statements, it’s all done for me, and worth every penny to ensure our money is well looked after. (Shoutout to TwoRoads, our bookkeeping and now also tax accounting team!)
Outsource Your Human Resources Functions
What is your human resources management situation? In many cases, small business owners do this on top of everything else, sometimes by necessity. If this is you, I would offer a word of caution. There are certain rules and regulations, mandated by the government, that you may not fully have a handle on. And depending on the size of your business, serving in a human resources capacity, as the business owner, could also be a conflict of interest. Each role requires specific strategies surrounding employee issues, so crossing those boundaries has the potential to become problematic.
Even if you only have a handful of employees, it’s probably a good idea to at least meet with an attorney or human resources consultant to make sure you’re following everything to the letter of the law. We regularly ask HR questions of our business attorney, and she’s referred us to an HR consultant for answers to a few specific questions.
Outsource Your Customer Support
Customer support is another key business component that can make or break your business’s potential. Do you or your employees have the bandwidth to address customers’ needs in a timely manner? If you or your employees are handling customer support, do you have the knowledge to accurately provide assistance? For instance, if you have someone that is doing product development on the widget you sell, and a customer calls in saying X, Y, or Z doesn’t work, what happens then?
When outsourcing customer support, it’s imperative for that person or team of people to be fully trained in what you sell, how it works, and what to do when it fails. We recommend that you start by hiring someone for a couple of hours a day, with a super clear scope of work. Here’s an excellent example of a customer service job description I recently came across.
There are many more jobs and processes you can outsource, such as IT, administrative tasks, and shipping/logistics. The above are just examples to get you thinking about what it could look like to free up brain power and time so you can focus on what you do best.
Step Two: Determine Options for Small Business Outsourcing
Outsourcing business and marketing activities takes many forms. It’s important to determine the best option for your specific needs. Some questions you might ask yourself include:
- Is it something that can be streamlined using an automated tool?
- Or, do you need a hands-on human to drive the bus?
- Will you need someone to work with you full time? Part time?
- Will they be an employee or an independent contractor?
- Do you actually have enough business to hire an agency?
Budget will factor into your decision-making process. However, remember to offset the benefits you’ll be getting by allowing for more time and focus in your day.
Step Three: Be Clear About Expectations
Setting clear expectations applies to both the outsourced entity and the business owner. I can’t tell you the number of times a prospective client has come to Crackerjack Marketing and didn’t really know what they wanted to achieve. In fact, sometimes, they asked questions of my team they should have known long before arriving on the CJM doorstep.
If you need marketing support, what does that entail? What are you currently set up to do and what needs development and expansion? What do you hope to accomplish: greater brand awareness, more sales/conversions, improved brand reputation, a leg up on your competitors? “Marketing” is not one singular thing that accomplishes a bunch of goals in one fell swoop.
This goes for any business function you outsource. Before you hire external help, make sure everyone is on the same page.
Step Four: Focus on the Long View (When It’s Needed)
With some business initiatives, outsourcing helps almost immediately. Others take time. Marketing, for instance, takes time to gain traction. If you hire an email marketing or social media guru one day, it’s unrealistic to expect major results the next. Brand awareness is a process, as is building up your brand reputation. It may take weeks to generate enough positive reviews to offset any negative ones.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your new processes won’t be either. Of course, if an outsourced entity is working against your business and marketing goals, it’s clearly not a good fit and time to look elsewhere.
Is Outsourcing Right for Your Small Business Goals?
Outsourcing can be a valuable strategy in running a successful small business. Yet, it does require thoughtfulness and a clear focus towards what you want to accomplish. Before you hire a consultant, contractor, or agency, make sure you know exactly what you need and what your goals are—and be prepared for the timeline it will require to realize results.
If marketing is the thing you need the most help with, we’re here to help. Crackerjack Marketing offers many different options for helping small businesses thrive, no matter the size. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.
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