If you’ve been running your small business for a while now, then I’m sure you’ve discovered it’s not as easy as some make it look! Your time and resources are going to be very stretched, and if you don’t have many staff this can mean a lot of late nights hunched over your computer! By now, you’re probably tempted to outsource a lot of things at your business just to give yourself some slack. However, this isn’t always the best choice. Here are some essential considerations when you’re thinking of outsourcing anything…
Control of your Main Competency
You should never, ever outsource any kind of task that has something to do with your business’s core competency. For example, if you’re selling a unique piece of software that’s your “secret sauce”, so to speak, you shouldn’t entrust it to any outsiders, no matter how professional they come off. It may solve your problem in the short term, but can easily come back to bite you later.
Creative or Operational?
While creative things, like graphic design, copywriting, and most other facets of marketing, can certainly be outsourced, this will mean sacrificing a lot of the control you have over your unique brand identity. Companies that deal with strictly operational tasks, for example, a credit recruitment agency, are much more safe. Yes, you’ll need to go through the tedium of organising and communicating a lot of detailed information. However, operational services have strict industry-specific parameters and a trove of hard data they can draw on to make the best decisions for your business. When outsourcing creative tasks, you’re leaving a lot more to chance.
Your Intellectual Property
When you’re thinking of outsourcing any kind of task, especially when it’s technology-based, it’s essential that you consider the risk that’s facing your intellectual property. Bear in mind that some countries, despite offering considerable discounts, carry more risk than others. In China, for example, an estimated 90% of the software that’s currently being used is pirated. When you stick with companies based in the western world, on the other hand, they’ll be much more manageable through contracts and non-disclosure agreements. Your intellectual property is one of the most valuable assets you have in this increasingly digital world. Make sure you’re protecting it!
Products or Services?
the difference between product and service-based businesses is another important factor to consider when you’re thinking of outsourcing. Once a product is produced, getting it to distributors or directly to your customers really doesn’t take that much effort or resources. Services, on the other hand, have to be tailored to the client’s unique needs and preferences. This gives the whole business model a pretty low level of leverage and reuse. While it’s certainly possible to outsource tasks in a service-based business, it needs to be very carefully managed, and carries a lot more risk. Furthermore, clients of service-based businesses tend to have higher standards, and one bad experience can cause some serious PR damage to your brand!
Before you decide whether or not to outsource anything, be sure to go through these considerations.