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One of the smartest pieces of advice I’ve received is to outsource all non-core activities, acknowledge my strengths, recognise my weaknesses and work with that knowledge instead of fighting it. Focus on what you do best, and outsource the rest. 

The advice was pivotal in turning a commercial corner. It changed the way I ran my business and underpins the way we operate today. 

We outsource a whole range of activities and skills from payroll, bookkeeping, accounting to security and cleaning. Although we are PR and marketing experts, we even use creatives and PR specialists to help us look at our own backyard!

The key thing to remember is there are only so many hours in the day and small business owners are critically time poor. So my premise has always been you might as well concentrate on doing what you love. And coincidentally, we tend to be good at what we enjoy doing!

On the flip side, we are usually not good at what we don’t enjoy. That doesn’t mean we deserve a ‘get out of jail free’ card. You only have to reflect back to school days to see we just can’t get out of what we don’t like doing. Life isn’t a bed of roses. With perseverance, conquering our weaknesses is greatly rewarding. But what it does mean is that it’s worth taking an unemotional look at your strengths and weaknesses (and those of your team) and finding those skills to complement or fill the gaps.

As an example, when GST was introduced a few years ago, I could have spent many hours trying to understand it, deflecting precious time on building the business or other high pay-off activities. Instead, I hired a specialist who took me easily through the steps. For me, GST was painless and easy because I paid an expert to show me how.

This is the basic premise for outsourcing decisions. Outsourcing a key function allows you to meet your core objectives far quicker and leaves you to focus on what you know best—your business.

When should I outsource?

  • When there aren’t enough hours in the day
  • If the task requires experience and skills you don’t have in-house
  • When certain tasks are taking too long
  • Staff are complaining that a particular task never gets completed
  • When the thought of tackling that task is too scary—it is ignored
  • When certain tasks are distracting you from high pay-off activities
  • You can’t find those skills in spite of recruiting efforts
  • Important tasks are being overlooked or left in the hands of juniors
  • Business functions are not delivering real results
  • Bottlenecks are appearing in the business.

The benefits of outsourcing

Outsourcing to experts can provide a fast, effective solution to all or some of these issues:

1.  Maximise results without increasing your headcount

The collective experience of a focused, dedicated professional or group of professionals can mean fast delivery of results to deadline and within budget. This can be more cost-effective and productive than maintaining projects in-house. Outsourcing gives you all the benefits of a specialist team’s experience, from mature consultants to new energy and ideas and fresh blood!

2. The way to speedy implementation

Using professionals who offer specialist skills and experience means you can get the job done quickly. You can choose to outsource all or nothing. Everything—even strategy to tactical recommendations—is at your fingertips when you need it.

3. Flexible, nimble service on tap

Using experts means you have the flexibility to ‘turn the tap on or off’ when you need it. You don’t have to invest in the extra full-time resource and take the risk that an individual or group will sit under utilised when times are quiet.

4. Objective, independent advice

Professional consultants and specialists should act as informed allies to balance your internal skills and debates. They should operate as objective, trusted advisors and should ask the straight shooting questions to force improvements in your operation.

5. Mentoring

An outsourced provider should be able to mentor your junior staff and fast-track your internal expertise. They should provide eager and interested guidance and work hard to up-skill your in-house junior staff so they work smarter.

6. Turn up or down the activity dial

With an outsourced solution, you can choose to ‘turn up the volume’ on your activities without having to make major recruitment or budgetary decisions. So you can increase or decrease the volume of your activities.

Why would you outsource?

It is a wise individual who recognises you can’t be an expert in everything. To be successful you have to learn to let go and let others excel. Outsourcing may be one of the most rewarding productivity boosts your business has experience. Don’t waste time. Find experts to help.

Outsourcing is a corporate function that benefits small businesses to the largest corporates. Thinking of outsourcing? I say focus and prosper!

Sharon Williams is CEO of Taurus Marketing (www.taurusmarketing.com.au) and a member of the Dynamic Business Expert Panel

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