Starting your own business is a great achievement, but it can also be a solitary one. As the “Chief Everything Officer,” everything rests on your shoulders—sales, marketing, business admin, information technology, taxes, accounting and keeping pace with business laws and regulations—and that’s without paid time off to help you unwind! But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you are a solopreneur or in a business partnership, there are some things you are going to need to outsource as soon as you can afford to—not because you don’t enjoy doing those things, but getting them off your back will let you focus on what you do best – running and building your business. Here are four things you should consider outsourcing to an expert:
1. Business Administration Business administration is basically the paperwork that either ends up getting left till the weekend or until tax day is knocking on your door. Which function of business administration you choose to outsource will vary by business. For some, it might come down to using the services of a virtual assistant to take calls, manage scheduling and invoicing or even helping with basic marketing tasks. For others, it might be payroll, an especially time-consuming and detail-oriented task that can quickly consume even the savviest business owner.
Three areas of business administration that you should definitely consider outsourcing are legal incorporation, taxes and accounting (for example, a good accountant can help you manage your books, payroll, cash flow, and balance your personal and business finances).
Tax advice, in particular, is something every small business, from freelancers to employee-based companies, can benefit from. Whether it’s an initial consultation with an expert or year-round tax planning and tax preparation services, do not wait until tax season to start to understand your obligations for making estimated tax payments, paying employer taxes, claiming the right deductions, filing income taxes and so on.
2. Marketing Communications Marketing communications is basically what you do to communicate with your target market and customer base, whether it’s through emails, advertising, a website, blogs, press releases and so on. It’s also about formulating in words who you are, what you do, and why your market should care – known in the business as your marketing message.
Getting this right is vitally important to building your brand and differentiating you from your competition. As a start-up, consider bringing in pros to help you get your message right.
A marketing communications consultant or writer can also help you write copy for your website, create blogs, brochures, newsletters, case studies and more. These are all time-consuming tasks that often fall by the wayside, but should be maintained. By outsourcing this function, you can also bring in new ideas, see value where you may have overlooked it and translate this into great copy. If budget is an issue, use this resource as a second pair of eyes only—someone who can edit existing copy and give it that extra polish.
3. Social Media Social media often looks easy from the outside, but it takes time to build and manage a fan base of engaged followers, create and broadcast great content, and respond to user comments.
Savvy start-ups know this, but many are reluctant to let go of their own social media voice and bring in a third party to manage it for them. That’s fine. Getting your business established on social media doesn’t require much effort, but you might quickly find that you don’t have the time to monitor and post regularly, and your activity is starting to dry up. This is the time to let go of the reins. Building a community rests upon being there, with that community, checking in several times a day and listening and responding quickly. As the business owner, CEO and founder, finding the time to do this is hard.
Now you don’t have to be a social media powerhouse, or even hire one. Is there someone on your team who would be interested in taking this task on? After all, they know the business, the industry and your customers well. If not, consider paying an independent contractor. They may require some ramp-up time to get to know your business. Then work out a schedule where perhaps you share social media management time with that person, as your workload permits.
4. General Business Assistance Wearing the weight of your business on your own shoulders can be hard and it’s easy to lose sight of your plans, hit roadblocks or go off track a little. But “going it alone” doesn’t mean you literally have to “go it alone.” Organizations such as SCORE can team you up with a free personal mentor who can help you navigate the ins and outs of business ownership. These mentors have expertise in many functions and industries and provide the “coaching” that many small business owners need to offset their own weaknesses and refine their strengths. You can view examples of how SCORE has benefited small business owners here.
Other organizations, such as Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers, also offer assistance in local communities in the form of training, networking and other business incubation activities. Use this interactive map to find a resource in your area.