Over the past ten years I have seen a move in business toward a dependence on outsourcing as a way to get things done in business. In-fact at a recent business growth seminar, I wasn’t surprised to hear the presenter tell everyone that it’s important to get someone else to do the things you’re not good at.
Fundamentally I agree with this principle because running a business is difficult. Wasting time on learning new techniques slows down our capacity to get the things we’re good at and other importan t things, like acquiring sales, done. The fact is that business needs infrastructure to support the selling and delivery process and you may need to outsource a few things to get them done well.
A few years ago I read Michael J Fox’s book Lucky Man. In it he describes his journey to fame and success and his reliance on the “business managers” he appointed to manage his affairs. The story ends in an all too familiar way that left the talented (and gorgeous!!) actor paying excessive “management fees” and in the end being left with nothing. Ultimately, he had to start again financially.
New and small business owners who are outsourcing important business functions such as the management of resources to consultants are extremely vulnerable. The temptation, especially around finances, to hand it off because you neither understand it nor can be bothered doing it can create a mine field of problems. These problems can be with taxes and other business compliance issues or in more extreme cases fraud and theft!
So, when you’re stuck on the merry-go-round of time and energy and sales and administration and learning and growing and IT and social media and everything else your business needs how can you protect yourself if outsourcing is your only option?
The first thing you need to know is what you want. For example, if you need someone to build you a website don’t call them and not know what you want. Your job is to look around the internet and your competitors and customers web sites and make a list of what you do and don’t like so you can provide direction and control.
Secondly, know what you expect in your business. Understanding the key indicators in your business will help you notice unanticipated changes. Key indicators are things such as daily sales, daily cash at bank, who owes you money and who you owe money to are a good start.
Thirdly, never authorise a consultant or contractor to make financial or other resource transactions no matter how easy it would make your or their life! (Yep, this happens all the time.)
And four, if you notice changes you don’t understand in any of the key indicators address them immediately. Don’t wait for a problem to escalate.
Outsourcing doesn’t have to come with risks if you take your business seriously. In-fact these tips are just good common sense for every business but nonetheless it’s good to be reminded and take note.