Executive Education

5 Departments to Outsource as Your Business Takes Off

business partnership

When most entrepreneurs launch a business, they assume they’ll handle everything on their own. Marketing? Naturally. Sales? Of course. Web design? No problem.

That’s fine and dandy when you’re a small operation based in a garage, but what happens when your pet project balloons to dozens of hires? Administrative tasks pile up until it’s impossible to focus on the most important aspects of your business. Suddenly, going it alone isn’t quite as realistic.

Focusing too much on the details can blind you to the big picture. For example, Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” famously begins with two failed attempts (and a quick expletive) before kicking into the actual song. It would be easy to focus on these tiny mistakes, but this narrow viewpoint misses the way they contribute to the raw feeling of the contemplative ballad. Sometimes imperfect is perfect.

Rather than get bogged down with details, you should recruit employees to take on more responsibilities and outsource duties that don’t play to your strengths. The upfront cost might make you drag your feet, but trying to be a jack-of-all-trades will inevitably make you a master of none. The long-term benefits of offloading duties will pay out dividends.

The Danger of Doing Everything

You might feel tempted to be hands-on with every aspect of your business, but being in the weeds distracts you from the big picture. A good rule of thumb is to outsource anything that isn’t your core competency. If you’re a software development veteran with years of coding experience under your belt, don’t bog yourself down with human resources and financial analysis. Find someone else who excels at those particular tasks and put them to work so you can focus on your specialties.

Not sure how to know whether a certain task is worth your time? Assign a monetary value to an hour of your time, and outsource any task that falls below that hourly rate. Let’s say you value your time at $100 an hour (that’s a super conservative estimate, by the way) but you can find someone willing to handle a major time suck such as bookkeeping for about $50 an hour for high-quality talent. Because the asking price falls well below your hourly threshold, you should probably outsource it. If the asking price exceeds your threshold, you might continue to handle that particular project.

Proper delegation saves you from wasting your time and money on day-to-day minutiae. Entrepreneurs who try to wear every hat possible also run the risk of getting burned out quickly. It’s hard enough to bring an idea to fruition and turn a profit, but entrepreneurship becomes infinitely more challenging when you’re mentally fried while trying to grow your company. Delegate tasks to free up your schedule and allow you to focus your energy where it’s needed.

Seeking an Outside Perspective

Early on, you might not be able to afford in-house marketing, finance, sales, human resources, web design, and blog management staff members. And that’s perfectly OK. Give your fledgling business the chance to grow by passing those tasks along to expert contractors, freelancers, and agencies. It’s certainly more efficient than trying to do everything yourself.

Here are five departments that quite a few businesses choose to outsource:

  1. Marketing

When it comes to marketing, quality is typically better than quantity. Don’t waste your time and money by using the “spray and pray” method by throwing everything at a wall and watching to see what sticks. Home in on the areas that will deliver the best results and reach the right audiences.

Strategic marketing takes a ton of research, which requires time (and possibly expertise) you likely don’t already have. Rather than hire a “growth hacker,” hand off your marketing strategy to a competent agency that can help you build a customer base for a reasonable rate.

  1. Finance

Depending on the stage of your business or the time of year, your company will require varying levels of financial support. By outsourcing your finance needs, you can get exactly the sort of help you need regardless of the size of your company.

Most small- and medium-sized business owners understand the importance of building a budget, but they might not know the best way to begin. An in-house bookkeeper could be perfectly capable of classifying transactions and reconciling accounts every month but lack the expertise to create the underlying financial model or cash flow forecast. By outsourcing these tasks, business owners can focus on their expertise rather than worry about crunching numbers.

Larger organizations can also use a helping hand at certain times of the year. They might employ in-house bookkeepers and accountants but struggle to remain flexible to ever-changing business environments. Whether your company needs help during tax season or during the launch of a new product line, outsourced finance help can provide a momentary boost without the need to recruit and hire full-time employees.

  1. Sales

When you factor in base salaries, commissions, and CRM platform expenses, salespeople aren’t cheap. That said, the idea of launching a business without any sort of sales staff seems a bit shortsighted. And dangerous.

You could start with a small sales team and grow from there, but there are highly experienced salespeople willing to help grow your customer base on a freelance basis. Their expertise can lead to some valuable insights and potentially shape your sales structure for the long haul. These seasoned salespeople can close deals early on; then, they can help train your in-house sales team once you have the budget to recruit and hire people.

  1. Human Resources

Human resources involves more than simply assembling a talented team. You need to pay your team; provide staff members with benefits; and establish corporate policies, procedures, and training. On top of that, you don’t want to overlook any personnel details that could land you in legal trouble.

Recruiting new hires might feel relatively easy, but there are numerous other aspects to the HR world. If you don’t have the know-how, outsourcing these tasks to a trained professional can ensure you’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s.

  1. Web Design

Even if you don’t sell your products or services online, your company still needs a good website. For many clients, your homepage will be their first interaction with your brand. Research has found that first impressions are so powerful that people will ignore facts contradicting those beliefs, so you definitely want to put your best foot forward.

Unless you’re a web design guru, chances are you’ll need to outsource the creation of your website. By pairing freelance designers and a third-party hosting service, you can make site setup a smooth process.

You might have the skills and experience necessary to be an HR manager, web designer, marketer, and salesperson all at once, but you can’t change the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. Attempting to micromanage every detail while your business grows beyond the garage is a great way to make your efforts crash and burn. Do yourself — and your business — a favor and outsource some tasks so you can focus on making your company a success.

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Michael Burdick
Michael Burdick is the CEO of Paro, the outsourced finance and accounting department for growing businesses. Paro's purpose is to empower people to do what they love.