As an entrepreneur, you’re probably used to wearing multiple hats and tackling all sorts of problems by yourself. Versatility and self-sufficiency are great traits for entrepreneurs, but once you start working on your business (rather than in it), you need to have the capacity to step back and oversee all of the moving parts, rather than let yourself get bogged down with technical support and answering the phone.
Keeping everything under your own roof might feel comfortable, but there’s almost always another company that’s better at doing the things that you don’t want to do (or can’t do well). Trusting others with tasks that aren’t central to your business can help you grow your business without growing your payroll.
Why You Should Outsource.
There are many different reasons to choose outsourcing — especially when you’re just getting your business up and running.
1. Outsourcing lets you spend more time doing what you love.
There will always be parts of your job that aren’t fun — don’t let those parts dominate your workday. It’s important to feel fulfilled by your work, and outsourcing helps make that possible.
2. Outsourcing keeps your team small.
I never wanted to work for a large company, and at this point in my career, I’m not interested in running a large company, either. I run an online art business that prints and ships thousands of orders each week to buyers all over the world — and I’m able to do it with only four full-time employees, thanks to outsourcing.
As a result, our team is small, close, and great at what we do. Outsourcing allows me to protect that community. I love it when all of my employees have creative, fulfilling projects to work on, and that’s exactly what we have — every day.
3. Outsourcing helps things run smoothly.
We outsource our order production to several different companies throughout the U.S. If there’s a snowstorm in North Carolina that knocks out FedEx or UPS deliveries for several days (which actually happened last month), I can just transfer orders to our production facility in Los Angeles. Organizing our business this way makes my life much less stressful.
4. Outsourcing saves money.
Letting other established people and organizations compete for my business gets me the lowest cost every time. I save money with less effort and time on my end.
5. Outsourcing makes expanding easier.
Outsourcing gives small teams like ours a greater reach because we don’t have to physically be everywhere we do business. We’re getting ready to start producing in Europe to avoid high shipping charges and slow delivery times. Rather than build a production facility in Europe, I just have to find an existing production center in Europe, and I’m done.
5 Areas of Your Business You Should Outsource
You probably have an idea which areas you need to outsource, but here are five areas that will always make fiscal sense — some of which you might not have thought of before.
If you’re selling a physical product, outsource production. There’s no need to take on the logistical headaches of manufacturing your own products until you’re an established business and the financials make sense.
Sites like MFG.com let you submit a description of what you need built (e.g., an injection-molded, plastic action figure), and manufacturers all over the world bid on building that for you.
2. Projects and Jobs Outside Your Expertise.
This includes short-term projects like PR for a new product, YouTube videos, and apps, as well as ongoing responsibilities that you don’t want to hire a full-time employee for, such as scheduling, marketing, or bookkeeping.
3. Web Hosting.
Use Amazon Web Services for your hosting needs. It’s easy to work with, and most of the programmers you hire will already be familiar with Amazon’s server infrastructure.
If you’re selling a product, use a service such as Shopify to get your business up and running quickly with minimal programming effort. As your business grows, you’ll eventually want to build your own shopping cart, but it’s usually not necessary early on.
When it comes to online business expenses, I use PayPal and Webmaster Checks to send payments. Each month, I send payments via PayPal, as well as physical checks to thousands of artists, in less than five minutes.
If you get a lot of phone calls or want 24/7 availability, outsource to a call center, rather than hire staff to answer phones in-house. I would need to hire five full-time employees to handle our calls, but the call center we use has 25 U.S.-based employees who can answer our calls at any time.
Outsourcing makes financial and logistical sense, and it lets you focus on what you really enjoy doing. As your company grows, there will be opportunities to bring work back in-house, but I’m more than 10 years in and still love every minute and dollar outsourcing saves me. So stop fighting the aspects of business that don’t bring you joy, and send that work to someone who wants it.
Sean Broihier is the founder and CEO of Fine Art America and Pixels.com, online marketplaces that help artists sell, print, frame, and distribute their artwork to consumers all over the world. Fine Art America and Pixels.com take control of the selling process to ensure that artists have time to focus on what matters most: the art.