Monday, March 02, 2009

Enterprise Nation - Do what you do best and outsource the rest

In her latest column, Emma Jones suggests that this piece of advice has never been more relevant.
You went in to business to do the things you most enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’re good at it and that, in turn, attracts loyal customers. Keep hold of those customers by sticking to your knitting and find other experts to take on the tasks you shouldn’t be performing.

What’s outsource-able?
Part of the adrenaline drive of business is getting to do many a varied thing. On Monday you could be courting new clients and on Tuesday completing the VAT return, whilst meeting a project deadline. Being the Finance Director, Marketing Director and Business Development Director in all one body and in one day is very much part of the adventure that is business.

But there will come a time when some of these tasks could be done better, faster and cheaper by someone else. Tasks such as:
Sales/appointment setting calls
Marketing & press relations

The good news is there are a host of experts starting up their own businesses in these fields to cater for your every need. Here’s my advice when it comes to doing what you do best and outsourcing the rest.

Do the groundwork
– spend some time working on the task yourself so you’ve built some foundations before handing work over to a third party. For example, if you outsource sales to a specialist, have a ready-made contacts list and some open doors that the specialist can build on, rather than start from scratch. This will make it more cost effective for you; it’s not a contract from a cold start, you have already done the groundwork.

Be clear on the brief – having spent some time doing the task yourself, you will have a clear idea of the brief for the specialist. Back to the example of outsourcing sales, if you’ve spent 6 – 12 months sourcing leads and making contacts, you’ll have a much clearer idea of the type of prospecting the specialist should do. The clearer the brief, the better the results.

Take your time – and take references. Spend time evaluating the specialists in the market and, if you can, talk to their existing clients. Do they have the industry experience you’re after, will they represent your brand in a professional manner, have they shown commitment to other clients. When an outsourced arrangement works well, the partner becomes part of your team so choose the partner as carefully as you would choose an employee.

Let go! – outsourcing a key function means having to let go a little. Someone else becomes accountable for the results of this part of business. Embrace this rather than resist it. As the business owner you remain in ultimate control but the expert will need their own space to flourish. Outsourcing can save you time and earn you money. And finding the right partner, on the right terms, will make you feel like a new and liberated person.
Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

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