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5 ways to outsource small business back-office tasks

Small business owner outsourcing tasks

As a small business owner, you want to focus on growing your business and bringing in new customers. 

But if operational issues such as payroll, recruiting or IT infrastructure are diverting you, it may be time to outsource these areas. Outsourcing for your small business can allow you to focus on the more creative and client-facing aspects of running a business. It can also help you improve efficiency, lead to a range of benefits, including higher profitability. 

Benefits of small business outsourcing

Donna Olah-Reiken, consultant and owner of a firm that provides back-office administrative support to small businesses, has seen the challenge first-hand. “You can have the best idea,” she says, but if your execution is lacking, it’s difficult to be successful.  

Outside technology expertise can ensure you have the systems you need to identify and market to potential customers. Outsourced recruiters can help you make high-quality, full-time hires. This is no small issue for young businesses that need the right talent in place to drive their growth. Accounting help can prevent mistakes and reveal areas where companies may improve their financial management.

Emotion often holds back business operators from outsourcing, Olah-Reiken says. They worry about ceding control of key areas of their business. But she adds that they are ultimately outsourcing functions, not business strategy. 

Here are five areas that small business owners can outsource at a reasonable cost: 

1. Accounting

Accounting tasks can be easier for small business outsourcing because they occur on a regular schedule and don’t require much creativity. Outsourcing providers of accounting services can address invoicing, payroll, accounts receivable and paying estimated sales taxes on a weekly basis. They become extensions of an office but at just part of the cost of full-time employees. 

By using outside help to tackle micro tasks, you’ll be able to consider your firm’s bigger financial picture. That will allow you to make sounder decisions about spending and budget and ultimately give you more control over your finances. 

Keep in mind, businesses that are just ramping up and have the budget can still benefit from a full-time bookkeeper who serves as the point person for financial record keeping. But outsourcing providers can complement this internal manager.

There are plenty of online resources for finding accounting help, including Upwork and Outsource.com, or a GoodAcccountants.com and RemoteBooksOnline. The American Institute of CPAs and regional trade organizations post jobs and can also be sources to find help.  

2. IT

Many small businesses can’t afford a full-time information technology manager. But they can cover their major needs via IT outsourcing providers who work on a contingency or contract basis. 

Such companies may design, install and upgrade systems, and can even be available around the clock for regular maintenance and emergencies. Tech and management consultancies offer a range of IT services. Or you can find skilled professionals on job boards, including Dice and Indeed, and via trade groups. 

3. Web and marketing designers

Small companies’ successes increasingly stem from their online presence. Contract and project-focused web and marketing designers can create content that casts the most positive light on your emerging brand. This includes video and interactive features that are rapidly proving to be the most engaging to wide audiences. Niche career websites and a new wave of companies offering varied content services offer rich talent pools from which you can choose. 

One additional note: Well-established design professionals have a portfolio of their best work online. Review work samples to see if a designer has tackled the types of projects you will send their way, and if they are stylistically in touch with your aesthetic.

4. Recruiting

Through recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), companies can allocate all aspects of the recruitment process, including the screening of resumes and tracking of candidates until there is a job offer or rejection. They may rely on an RPO provider for their ongoing hiring needs, and throughout their organization, even at the management level. 

But a company may also prefer to outsource parts of the recruiting process or focus on certain types of positions. Some firms outsource on a project basis, working with an RPO provider for short periods. 

5. Other HR functions

Companies may address such key functions as onboarding new employees, training and meeting payroll and benefits obligations more cost effectively than hiring HR staff. Business outsourcing providers in these fields may set up software systems and address issues on a daily basis, or as is the case with recruiting, they may work on a project basis. Small businesses may decide to ramp up staffing as they hit growth spurts. 

One of the advantages of small business outsourcing of HR is its inherent flexibility. Companies can use it as their needs dictate. 

One final note: The key to a successful business outsourcing partnership is taking the time to hire the right outsourcing provider – individual or company. Consider the provider’s clients and check references. Once you’ve decided whom to engage, it’s important to communicate your needs and expectations clearly. If you do that, your company will be more likely to benefit from the relationship.

Visit our Small Business Learning Center for more tips on how to run – and grow – your business efficiently, and make sure your company is protected with reliable small business insurance.

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