Unless you have unlimited funds as a startup, there are just some jobs you will almost always need to outsource. After all, you can’t usually finance multiple departments in the front and back end of your business so you do the next best thing. You seek outsourced services to fill those voids. Whether you are seeking general office, sales or even manufacturing services, there are commonalities in how you go about finding the resources you need. Here are seven outsourcing tips for startups, which should help you find the right people for the right job.
One of the biggest mistakes any startup can make is to limit their search by geographical boundaries. For example, there has been a lot of bad press given to outsourced customer service based in countries like India or Pakistan. While language is the number one complaint, many entrepreneurs don’t understand that those very same countries excel in other industries.
It’s true that the typical American or Briton doesn’t want to deal with customer service reps they can barely understand but on the other hand, those countries have highly skilled technology professionals that would be an asset to any startup in need of tech support.
What this boils down to is the fact that if you limit your search by language or dots on a map, you might be literally throwing the baby out with the bath water. Understand what you are looking for before ruling out countries that just might have the best teams for the jobs you have available.
Backtracking for just a moment, it’s time to look at just how important communication is. While a customer service desk needs to be populated by those who speak a language proficiently, other areas aren’t quite as important. Or, are they? Communication is always going to be a huge concern because one small misunderstanding could result in some very big losses.
There are times when an outsourcing team requires a percentage of the agreed upon price up front. Typically, outsourcing agencies look to procure a 50% payment prior to working and then payments can be arranged over time. This show of good faith can be a deal breaker, so don’t lose that highly skilled team because you don’t have a capital outlay in your budget.
If you don’t have cash on hand to contract an outsourced team, there are cash loans available that require very little in the way of credit history. Yes, most lenders check your credit history (personal and business) but there are loans available on the sub-prime market that don’t, which you can avail yourself of if it means the difference between contracting that outsourced help or taking second best due to insufficient history.
This one should be fairly self-explanatory. The number one common goal would obviously be success. When researching and interviewing outsourcing services, it is vital to dig a bit deeper than simply taking someone’s word for it that they are looking to be successful. That’s a very broad and basic statement and something you should understand right out of the gate.
One person’s definition of success can be totally different than the next person’s understanding of the word, so take the time to see what success means for that outsourcing professional. Do their checkpoints align with yours or are they the polar opposite? (As an extra tip here – perhaps it’s time to sit down and define success as you see it. Unless you know this, it’s going to be almost impossible to find someone who shares common goals!)
You should also be prepared for the day when those outsourced professionals are no longer available to take work from you. Bear in mind that these people don’t work for your startup. They are, for all intents and purposes, private contractors who agree to do a job for a certain period of time and for a pre-specified amount of money. Some of the private contractors you work with just might be there for years, working right alongside your company.
Others might simply be interested in that initial gig. No matter how happy you are with the services they render, they can choose to opt out at the end of each contract you’ve entered into. Some entrepreneurs go into outsourcing with this in mind. Even though they’ve outsourced work, they continue seeking in-house professionals who can pick up where outsourced teams leave off.
Just because you are outsourcing work and not hiring in-house staff doesn’t mean you should be any less vigilant when vetting possible candidates. This means you have every right to check out references they’ve listed or to speak with other businesses that have given positive feedback. Some entrepreneurs advise that you only work with outsourced teams that are able to provide 100% positive feedback, but this may be more than a little extreme.
It isn’t always possible to make everyone happy and sometimes that one unhappy client was just a matter of a personality conflict. Other times the expectations were unrealistic. It’s time to make sure your expectations are realistic.
As an entrepreneur starting a new business, you probably know you can’t do everything by yourself and so you’ve hired a few key people to work with you. Why not rely on these people to help you determine exactly what jobs need to be outsourced.Sometimes they are more than capable of handling a greater workload than you had imagined, and other times they will tell you their limitations. These can be your team leaders who work as the liaison between you and the outsourced talent you bring onboard.
Outsourcing work can be a frightening prospect, but not if you understand that you still hold all the cards! No, they don’t work ‘for’ you in the traditional sense of the word, but you still sign their paychecks! Keep this in mind and you will be in a better position to find the talent you need.