It would be great if we were experts in loads of different areas wouldn’t it.
And wouldn’t it be great if we had unlimited time to use all of these skills?
But that’s not the reality. The simple truth is that most of us have a narrow set of expertise which we sell to the market. And we all have 24 hours in a day – whether you’re Richard Branson or a brand new start up.
As business owners the balance we need to find is to focus our skills on what creates value for our business and delegate the rest.
But despite this, many business owners are still getting involved in areas outside of their core skillset.
For example, a report published by British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), revealed that 26% of SME leaders in the UK have found themselves working on IT issues, a task that costs them about 52 hours annually. That’s a lot of work if you ask me. It requires someone with that particular job description.
The trouble is that many smaller businesses don’t have these skills in house to delegate to.
That’s where outsourcing comes in.
From legal help to tasks such as accounting, content writing and social media management outsourcing is one of the best ways you can get quality work done and save money at the same time.
Once you embrace outsourcing there are loads of benefits.
You start to focus on tasks that you actually need to be doing such as sales, marketing, customer service and many more without having to hire in-house employees – making it easier to manage your costs without the risk of taking on and training staff.
So when it comes to technology here are a few tasks that you should consider focusing on as a priority.
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
It’s not cheap or easy to build your own business IT infrastructure. It requires a large budget to purchase and host of the equipment as well as the ongoing costs of maintaining and powering the kit.
You also need to factor in monitoring software costs as well as maintenance by skilled and expensive IT staff who will often need to work on an out of hours rota too.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is where you get equipment like network systems, hardware and servers from a third party provider instead of owning them. This can save your business a lot of money in labour and related costs.
And a lot of local businesses are considering adopting IaaS. In a report published by MTI in 2014, 77% of the respondents in the UK listed IaaS as their top tech request.
Outsourcing IaaS cuts the cost incurred on your small business as the provider owns and maintains the equipment. All you do is pay the set fee as per your plan.
From an accounting perspective too you remove depreciating hardware from the balance sheet as the cost becomes an ongoing business expense.
If you rely on what an IT vendor tells you concerning your data safety then you might be in for a rude shock at some point.
To drive home this point, consider that a 2015 survey commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows that the cost of addressing severe security breaches in SMEs had increased from £115,000 to over £300,000 between 2014 and 2015.
The thing is that most vendors are focused on one thing – to sell you their services. But an IT vendor is not a cybersecurity expert and they cannot guarantee total safety of your business data.
A cybersecurity expert on the other hand specialises in anticipating risks and mitigating the threats. Thus, on top of the security recommended by your IT vendor, it’s important to get a second opinion from a cybersecurity expert.
3. Website Optimization
These days a well optimised website is the basic cost of online admission.
Once you’ve accepted this you’ve got a decision to make: do you run it in-house or hire a professional (i.e. outsource)? Sure, there are some advantages to keeping it in house but consider the advantages of getting a professional to help you.
Outsourcing could cost much less than in-house optimization since upfront investments on things like software aren’t necessary. That’s also ignoring the learning curve associated with the software and also keeping abreast of changes in online marketing.
So besides reducing the operational costs, outsourcing also frees up your time and helps you to focus on running your business.
An external website optimization expert will also walk you through the fundamentals and create a sound implementation plan which is focused on achieving solid business results.
Of course choosing a reputable SEO agency or professional requires a certain amount of research but ultimately this should be a very wise decision.
4. E-Commerce Website Design
But if you run an ecommerce business, the design of your website is paramount. Good design isn’t just about having a nice looking site but also speed and optimizing for conversion are vital for Ecommerce success.
These skills take years to learn not to mention keeping on top of current trends.
An unattractive, slow and unnecessarily complex Ecommerce website puts people off and stops them becoming repeat customers.
That’s why it’s important that you consider outsourcing if you don’t have the skills and experience to comfortably design the site.
5. Website Updates
Even after you’ve got a well-functioning website that’s well designed, fast and has fantastic copy, you’ll still need to keep it up to date.
You have to monitor it closely to ensure that it’s always up-to-date. This ensures that your strong web presence is well-maintained.
The thing to bear in mind with websites, especially as they become more and more complex is that they need to be kept maintained.
There are so many tools ‘talking’ to each other within one website and they all need to be kept up to date and maintained.
Trying to keep up with these is a really time consuming task unless you’re a skilled developer.
Sure, pushing buttons and updating your plugins might seem like an easy task but it’s not all about that.
Sometimes updating one application can result in unexpected errors in other ones. If you’re an experienced developer this is probably child’s play, but if you’re not then this can eat into serious amounts of your time and it won’t always end successfully.
6. Business Apps
Everyone’s talking about Apps these days. Building a business app always seems like a good idea.
Luckily, there are DIY app development tools available that you can use to build your own apps.
However, unless your core competency is Application Development you may end up building something which doesn’t give you as much traction as you had hoped for. The thing is that consumers have become accustomed to fast, slick interfaces with high end graphics.
If your App has any whiff of a DIY approach it may end up doing your business more harm than good.
One way to address this could be to build an App yourself with the intention of using it as a working prototype that you can use with a sample of your customers to perform some initial testing.
This type of testing and the feedback you receive can allow you to make a level headed judgement about whether the business case for further investment stacks up.
Once you’ve got the results and you’ve taken a business decision to proceed further you can hand over the process to a professional app developer for a finished product.
Outsourcing is great but don’t go crazy. There’s no need to outsource every aspect of your business. Some things are definitely better done in house. Just identify where you lack the specific technical skills and outsource these elements.
Have you tried outsourcing? What did you outsource and what are your experiences? Let us know in the comments below.