As a cash-strapped small business, you’re always looking for ways to save money on your running costs. Knowing how to structure your company and deciding which tasks that you do in-house and which you will outsource will have an enormous impact on how productive and profitable you are, but it is not an easy decision.

A little bit of extra knowledge and a close look at the activity that you are considering outsourcing can help you to make the right choice for your company, and in this article, we are going to give you some pointers.

Is it a routine activity?

Consider whether the task you are thinking about outsourcing is a routine one that takes up much of your valuable time and energy. Things like simple bookkeeping and payrolling, appointment organization and data input generally tend to fall into this category, as they give no clear edge over your competitors and are not intrinsic to your business’ survival.

When you first start up your business, you’re going to have to handle these tasks yourself but don’t get hung up on them. As your business grows, bookkeeping and other vital organizational tasks are going to take more time. These tasks have to get done, but they don’t have to be done by you.

Have a look at your budget and see if outsourcing these to someone who offers professional services are worth the time you save. If money is a little tight, it may be worth investigating software rather than a third party. Make sure you look around for something simple to use, so it does not take up too much of your time.

One of the best investments I made, 12 years ago was a good accountant. I’ve never done the taxes for my business, but I do review them with my accountant. To do taxes right, I’d need to spend hundreds of hours learning tax code, and I’d still miss something. This is the perfect type of work that is much better outsourced.

Does it give you an advantage over your competitors?

The really important tasks that you perform, the ones that either give you an advantage over your competitors or the ones that you use to strengthen the relationships with your customers should be done in-house as far as possible. The tasks that you should be outsourcing are the ones that will not make any difference to your market, such as IT support. That is, of course, unless you run an IT support company!

There are plenty of companies out there that can take care of both the routine tasks and the more specialized and skilled ones; hand over some of your work to these and keep an eye on how much it costs you.

Does it require specialized skills?

If you require a particular skill, it can sometimes be more expensive to train up an employee to master that task or hire one to work in-house than it is to simply to outsource the task to someone working on a freelance basis or for a third-party agency who already knows how. This is particularly relevant for small businesses with a limited budget -finding people with specialized skills is easier than it ever has been.

Because of the recent economic downturn and the loss of many jobs have forced many people to offer their skills and services on a freelance basis. While it may not be such good news for them, it is for you as you have the ability to take advantage of a large pool of skilled workers. Updating your website design, creating sellable content that is representable for your business, running a social media campaign – if these are the sort of tasks that you are not feeling entirely confident about, or don’t have an existing employee with the skillset to do this and make it look professional, hire a freelancer.

Having a strong online presence is essential. If you’re not putting effort into talking about your business, then no one is. I write content for a number of WordPress based businesses because content is not the speciality of anyone on their team and despite their best efforts, they never get content out on a regular schedule.

By outsourcing much of their content needs to me, they get regular content and can stay focused on their core expertise.

As your business grows, start off-loading the tasks that don’t suit you. Stick with your core competencies so that you can bring maximum value to your customers.

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