Make Outsourcing a Success with These Tips
Outsourcing—going outside your business for services you need—is one of the best ways for a small business to get ahead. But using outsourcing to your best advantage does not happen automatically. Some outsourcing relationships can fail, costing your business time and money while a new relationship is established.
The key to outsourcing success for a small business is to go about it professionally. Out of pure necessity, small businesses started outsourcing long before there was even a term for it. Most small firms don’t have the in-house expertise to perform many different functions. So they hire someone else to do it for them. An outside specialist can do everything from payroll to building Web sites, managing computer networks or handling telephone sales and credit card processing.
Developing a successful long-term relationship with an outsourcing partner requires effort on both sides. It’s important to treat it like a partnership, because that’s what it really is. A vendor who supplies a vital service for your business is like part of your staff, so you should go through a similar interviewing and reference checking process before you “hire” them.
Using outside service providers who have experience working with your particular type of business is important. You’ll also want someone with the technology and expertise to deliver cutting edge services.
Be sure to ask detailed questions about the service you will receive, and access to someone who can answer questions and solve problems as they arise. For most small business owners, this kind of accessibility and service are top priorities. If the firm you are considering won’t be available when something goes wrong, look elsewhere. Since they are not likely to sell you this themselves, ask to speak with current and past clients. Most importantly, meet with the key people involved and evaluate for yourself how you think they will perform for your business.
The Outsourcing Institute, www.outsourcing.com, is a professional association for the outsourcing industry and a neutral “go-to” resource for information, connections and solutions to help businesses both large and small become successful outsourcers. The Outsourcing Help Desk lists of regional outsourcing events and solutions for small business buyers.
For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Call (570) 851.1608 or visit www.scorescranton.org to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.