Anna Thomas, COO of Stockdale & Leggo outlines why outsourcing may be a good fit for your small business and how you can make the most of working with consultants outside of your core staff.
The question of whether or not to outsource certain tasks is one that has many business leaders divided. While there are those who believe that outsourcing offers a cost-effective solution, many believe they are better off to train a full team of in-house staff. But is that really the case?
Regardless of whether you’re the leader of a large company or the founder of a small startup, it’s likely that outsourcing could offer your business some real benefits. While many perceive expansive teams of in-house support staff to be a strong sign of success, hiring more people than you need can be one of the biggest strains on your bottom line.
A few years ago when I commenced my role as COO of Stockdale & Leggo, I was given the task of trimming the fat and cutting back on wastage while simultaneously striving to grow the business. Among many of the changes I made was the decision to keep our corporate team small and engage a series of highly skilled consultants who can be called upon as required.
Doing so has undoubtedly made my business stronger and has allowed our group to grow despite speculation of a downturn in the property market. Here are the five ways that outsourcing has helped my business thrive in a changing environment.
Offers a more financially viable avenue
One of the main reasons I choose to outsource certain tasks is because I find it can be far more cost-effective than adding another permanent employee to the team. The expense of adding new employees isn’t limited to their wages alone – extending our team would also require us to consider the cost of a number of things like new equipment and additional office space. Depending on what projects we might have on at any one particular time, we may need someone who can work close to full-time hours where at other times we may only require a few hours a week.
Enables our business to remain flexible
Following on from my last point, our ability to call on contractors when required means that we can continue to test new projects with the commitment that comes with expanding your team. Within many industries (and real estate in particular), remaining flexible in your offering is becoming increasingly important as the world of business is changing at a rapid pace. If you want to stay competitive, you have to stay flexible, and in my view outsourcing is by far the most direct way to achieve this.
Allows our team to focus on core business processes
One of the pitfalls of a smaller team is that when an employees spectrum of work becomes too wide, it can be all too easy to overlook important factors and let certain things slip through the cracks. With my own team, it’s not to say that they aren’t capable of managing these additional areas themselves, but when it comes down to it, the devil is in the detail. I know that by offering them the opportunity to outsource certain smaller-scale projects, this, in turn, supports them to remain focused on our core business processes – the things that really drive revenue and help our group to achieve great outcomes.
Provides expert service when we require it
Another important aspect of outsourcing that has helped us strengthen our business offering is that we now have access to specialist services that we may have been able to afford if we had opted to hire someone on a permanent salary. We can now call on experienced industry experts when we need them – and save on expenses when we don’t. In fact, we’ve developed such strong relationships with our expert consultants that they essentially operate as an extension of our own in-house team.
Reduces employee relations issues
When tasked with managing a large team, employee relations can quickly become a full-time job of it’s own. Whether you’re dealing with issues such as poor performance or even something as simple as a personality clash, these things can be time-consuming and costly to manage. By keeping our team small and hiring for attitude over experience, our employee relations issues are minimal. Should we encounter a situation with an external consultant, it is usually far easier to end a relationship like this. Quite simply, if you aren’t happy with the outcomes, you’re under no obligation to use that consultant’s service again.
In my view, outsourcing appears to be a growing trend that is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. With so many strong advantages, it’s well worth considering whether outsourcing could help you strengthen your own business as it has strengthened mine.