How many hats are you wearing these days? If you are a small business owner, the answer is probably “many.” While you really want to focus on your business rather than working in your business, you cannot. There are just too many tasks, and they all fall on you.
The problem is this: you cannot afford to hire the staff you need to handle all of these “housekeeping” and other tasks, and you may not have the time or the skills to handle them well yourself.
It is definitely time to think about outsourcing some of these tasks. Doing this will bring regularity and continuity to the tasks themselves and certainly improve your work/life balance.
Let’s first take a look at what you can outsource and then your options.
- Content and Social Media Marketing
How much time do you have to craft creative and engaging blog posts? How much time do you have to keep up your postings on your social media accounts? And how skilled are you at creating catchy headlines/titles, great text, and cool visuals? This takes a lot of time – time that you could be spending growing your business in other ways.
And yet, your blog and your social media presence are really important to growth, so they cannot be ignored. One option you have is to hire a freelance content marketer to maintain your blog and other platforms.
If you choose this option, it should be a person who has wide experience in the field, who can do the research to identify the most important topics for your target customer demographic, who can write amazing posts, and who has experience with influencer marketing and establishing relationships with those influencers.
You want to spread your brand and develop relationships with potential customers, so this function is pretty critical.
Here’s an area where you cannot afford to make mistakes. For the financial health of your business, you need to have an accurate accounting of revenue and expenditures. Plus, if you have payroll, you have to calculate taxes and other deductions accurately. Mistakes in either of these areas can result in “love notes” from the IRS, fines and penalties. If you are not a “detail person,” you will not want to be keeping your own books.
Contracting with a freelance bookkeeper or accountant is a smart idea. And you certainly want the services of a tax accountant to keep everything straight with both state and federal tax authorities.
Trying to keep your books when you have many other things in your mind is just not a good idea – you will not have the necessary focus.
- Website Design/Updating
Unless you have the skills or are a fast learner who is happy with pre-designed website builders, you may want to outsource your design, development, and updating to a pro. There are a huge number of freelance designers/developers who are fairly reasonable, will consult with you and present optional designs to choose from.
And when you need to add, revise, or delete elements or features, your designer can handle it for you.
Especially if you are receiving personal information from customers or subscribers, or if you have information on your site that is sensitive, you will want good security. IT vendors promise security but they are not experts It is a good idea to find a network and security administrator (either a freelancer with good references or a reputable consulting firm) who will give you one more layer of protection against threats and be on call to mitigate any breaches that might occur.
And, if you are an e-commerce retailer, you already know to use a third-party payment processor with an up-to-date SSL certification.
Most small business owners are not SEO experts, nor do they have the time to study this activity and take the steps to optimize their sites and content for better page rankings. SEO experts are often standalone freelancers, though sometimes their jobs are tied into content marketing in general. You may be able to find a content marketer who also has expertise in SEO tactics.
Web-based enterprises cannot really know what is working or not unless they collect data related to all of their activities – where leads are coming from, how many leads from each place are generated, how many leads convert to paying customers, etc. Data must be gathered and analyzed, so that the business is focusing on those platforms that bring in the most revenue and either dump or revise their efforts on those that are not profitable. This can take a lot of an owner’s time, so it may be a good option to outsource this function.
Fortunately for small business owners, many of the functions that they would traditionally outsource to people are now available through tools and websites. Here are some options to consider:
- WordPress/WordPress Yoast
WordPress has made designing a website easy for even the beginner. You can design your initial site without any coding knowledge at all and, then, if you want a designer to come in and add more and/or unique features or to update it, the cost will be far less.
Yoast is a plugin tool for SEO. It will tell you what to do to improve your SEO, evaluate your blog posts and make suggestions, and make your SEO efforts much easier.
- Accounting Software
There are some amazing bookkeeping and accounting tools for small businesses – software that will “run all of your numbers” for you once you input the numbers. Most of these apps will also figure your taxes and complete your forms automatically. If you have payroll, the app will automatically calculate the deductions and generate the payroll checks. Bookkeeping and accounting functions – done and done.
- Content Marketing/Social Media
In addition to your blog, you have to find ways to stand out on social media. Everyone and his grandma has a Facebook account, and there is just so much noise on that platform. What can you do that is unique? Here are some other options:
- Instagram: Set up an account and begin to use visuals to tell your story – feature customers and team members, with great captions and links in your bios.
- Pinterest: another primarily visual platform that has gone way beyond “crafters.” You can feature products and services in unique ways.
- Mastergrades: Get a whole department of creatives to craft and publish your posts.
- Snapchat: One of the newest “players” in the social media world, but if you are targeting a younger audience, this is the place to be. You can now use storytelling through a series of photos/videos – it now reaches 31% of 18-34 year olds. Snap Ads are a great new way to market in a fun way – check it out.
- Social Mention Software
One thing you will want to stay on top of is what others are saying about your product(s) and your customer service. You will want to download one of many good social mention tools that will alert you whenever your brand is mentioned on the web. You can then easily access the comments and respond to them – this buys a lot of goodwill.
- Google Analytics
Google has some great tools for you to provide and analyze the data to show you what is and is not working. These are easily readable. Spend some time reviewing the kinds of reports that are offered and choose a few to try them out. You may be surprised to discover how easy these are to use.
Analyze Your Weaknesses
At the end of the day, you will need to analyze your weaknesses and those of your team. When you identify those weaknesses, you have to decide if the functions are large enough to employ a full-time staff member, if it can be contracted out, or if you can use a tool. You have lots of options.
Outsource Your Weaknesses
There are a lot of areas to outsource. Look at your team, your processes and the work you have to do on a regular basis. Consider outsourcing those areas where you and your team struggle. Also, look at the difference in costs between a full-time hire and outsourcing. That difference alone could help you decide.