In some circles, the term “outsourcing” is shorthand for “layoffs.” For home-based business owners, though, this carries no sinister connotations. Rather, it’s an essential component of any lean business strategy, an insurance policy of sorts for cash-strapped entrepreneurs scrapping to survive their uncertain first years in business.
Modern communications technology empowers business owners to connect with business service providers and creatives around the world, without ever meeting them face-to-face. These six powerful business processes are particularly easy to outsource.
1. Professional Accounting
QuickBooks isn’t cutting it any longer? Use a more powerful cloud-based service that combines the best features of DIY bookkeeping with CPA-grade accounting. You won’t ever sit down across the desk from your accountant, but you’ll benefit from his or her expertise all the same.
2. Rapid Prototyping
The iterative design used to be a cost- and time-intensive process. These days, it’s still a significant (though crucial) resource drain. But it’s far more manageable thanks to the rapid prototyping workflows made possible by advanced 3D printing technologies like FDM and PolyJet additive manufacturing. If you have a limited amount of time to turn your whiteboard vision into a marketable product, look for a 3D printing partner that can help you visualize versions at key milestones in the R&D process.
3. Multimedia Content Creation
Don’t have time to cut videos, or slideshows, or even slap up some written content on your website? You can farm out all these creative processes and more — or, at least, components thereof, like scripting and video editing. Look for low-cost freelancers on reputable platforms that handle nitty-gritty things like payroll and dispute resolution.
4. Web Development and Design
Don’t know the first thing about web development? Not confident you have the eye to design a winning website? Virtually certain you lack the resources to hire someone who can do your vision justice?
There’s an app for that. Actually, there are dozens. Combining low-cost web design platforms with talented freelance labor is a winning strategy for your competitors; why not make it your own?
5. Tax Preparation
The only certainties in life are death and…well, you know the rest. Fortunately, business tax preparation is one of the easiest processes to outsource, thanks to a burgeoning crop of hybrid accounting firms that bundle professional-grade tax prep with ongoing financial reporting.
Not all early-stage home-based businesses need outside marketing help. In the early going, the combined power of your website, your existing professional network, and a (hopefully positive) reputation that engenders a steady stream of referrals might be all you need to drive growth.
As your firm grows, your calculus might change, or you might decide at some point not to rely on a business engine as fickle as word of mouth. When you do, you’ll find that you can partially automate most digital marketing functions and create winning marketing content without a professional eye.
Outsource Early, Outsource Often
It’s time to take back “outsourcing” — that is, to stop seeing it as a dirty word. If you’re serious about keeping your home-based business lean and responsive to whatever challenges may arise in the months and years ahead, you owe it to yourself to share the load.
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