Which Business Functions Should You Outsoure?

Written by Karen Bryan

woman working on computerWhen running your own business, it’s hard to have the time and skills required to perform all the necessary business functions yourself.

One way to cope with this dilemma is to outsource some of these tasks.

My approach to deciding which business functions you should outsource would be to look at your own skill set to ascertain which functions you are most competent to perform yourself and the cost of outsourcing all functions. Then examine if you should outsource the functions which either you can’t do yourself, or are relatively cheap to outsource.

I’m an online publisher with two websites. Europe a la Carte, a European travel website. and Help Me To Save, a personal finance and lifestyle website. Below, I’ve looked at the various business functions, my skills and the cost of outsourcing.

Website Design

My websites are certainly not going to win any design awards. But in opinion,  they do the job. Visitors coming to my sites are looking for either information to help plan their next trip to Europe, or for tips on ways to save money. As long as the websites aren’t really garish and muddled, and my articles provide readers with relevant information, I don’t believe that I need to pay for professional website design. It’s also become easier for lay people to design websites e.g. I used the free default 2012 WordPress theme for my travel site. However, if you run a website on which you sell goods and services, then you’d probably need a professional designer to ensure that the ordering and payment process ran smoothly and quickly.

Content

I write most of the content for my websites myself. Although you can find freelance writers fairly cheaply, the content produced tends to be very generic and padded, plus it may not be original or unique. As it’s crucial for my website to have good content, I’m prepared to spend the time doing the writing myself.

IT

I’ve tried to learn to do as much as I can, but I believe, after making the my websites crash after going into php files and attempting more than basic html, that I need someone with more expertise to handle more complex tasks. Therefore, I have an IT consultant, who is paid on a revenue sharing basis. It’s crucial that my sites are online, so I can’t afford not to pay for this service, even if it does have a significant impact on my profit.

Accounts

As my turnover is below the annual VAT threshold of £82,000, I can submit three-line annual accounts to HMRC. This means that I only have to keep a record of turnover and expenses in order to work out my annual profit. This is fairly straightforward and not that time-consuming. But if my turnover were higher and I had employees, I reckon I’d need to outsource that work to an accountant.

Data Protection

The last you want is to be in trouble for breaches of the Data Protection Act. As an online publisher, I don’t have confidential paperwork. But, I need to ensure that I destroy the hard discs from any old computers. As I generally own a larger laptop for working in the office, and a smaller netbook for use when I’m out and about, I only have to deal with this around once every two years. If you have lots of confidential documents and/or your business owns many computers., you could outsource the secure disposal of this to a company like Datashredders. They can visit your premises with mobile equipment to destroy sensitive documents, as well as the hard disks from old computer. This could work out cheaper than buying the equipment and the time spent carrying out the task.

Marketing

You need to do some marketing to create awareness and encourage visitors to your website or business premises. You can use free social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I run these accounts myself. However, you need to factor in to the time that you spend running these accounts. If you can find someone experienced in building up a social media presence, it could be good value to pay for their services.

Sales

I primarily earn money on my websites through selling advertising. I do have quite a few regular advertisers, but I should be doing more to make new contacts to whom to I could sell advertising. I could do this myself, but I’m also looking into outsourcing this on a commission basis. That would mean that I would only pay the person doing this for me once they secured a new advertiser. If that sales person, either through existing contacts or being more skilled than me in closing sales, greatly increased the number of advertisers, my profit could increase, even after factoring in their commission.

Conclusion

The decision on which business functions you should outsource will be different for every business, depending on the type of business, skill set of the owner, the cost of outsourcing and the turnover of the business.