6 top tips on growing your business with outsourcing

Daniel Callaghan is the founder and CEO of MBAandCo.com the global marketplace of top tier freelancers with at least five years experience and postgraduate degrees from top business schools. Here, he give Business Matters his top tips on outsourcing.

1. Envisage the benefits
If your business is lacking in-house expertise, hiring a consultant with those missing skills, to complete projects or train up the team, is a positive step. For instance, those who want to initiate social media marketing for their business, but have no clue how to go about it, can outsource the work to an expert to ensure they do not waste precious time on efforts that may not yield results. If the outsourced project will help, rather than hinder day-to-day operations, then it is worth the cost. Of course, some outsourced projects, such as lead generation, will allow business owners to see the return on investment even more clearly.

2. Consider freelancers
Freelancers typically work remotely and do not have the overheads of an agency or consultancy firm. This means small businesses can get the same project completed at a much lower cost – often making savings of up to 50%. Selecting candidates from a freelance talent pool also means the choice for businesses is far more wide-ranging than having to use the employees of a specific agency or consultancy. This is particularly good for business owners with more specialised projects.

3. Write a detailed project brief
The more detailed your project brief, the more likely you are to find a match with a consultant with the relevant skills. Consultants’ skills are hugely wide-ranging. Whilst a management consultancy or market research project could be outsourced to most business consultants, it might be that you need someone who specialises in East Asian markets and is based on the ground in Hong Kong, or an HR expert with experience in handling sensitive internal disputes. If it’s a niche project that needs completing, specify what sort of candidate you would prefer to undertake the work and what previous experience or skills are ‘must-haves’. This should make the selection process simpler as it will deter those without relevant experience from applying.

4. Choose carefully
If you outsource project work, the person you choose will be representing your brand so it is your prerogative to be selective. Ask for references as well as a CV and examples of previous work if necessary. As some consultants will need to go ‘under the bonnet’ ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

5. Be open-minded
It can be hard to accept criticism, however constructive. But the impartial and objective perspective of a consultant can prevent business owners from making the wrong decisions, and is therefore hugely advantageous. Often the company management tends to be biased towards a particular viewpoint and may fail to see the risks associated with that course of action. For instance, they may be so pleased with a new product development that they may be blinded to the non-existence of a market for that product. Read the results of the outsourced project with eyes wide open.

6. Try before you buy
More and more we are seeing businesses use our website as a ‘try before you buy approach’ to recruitment. In the current climate particularly, every hire is a risk and most small business owners will tell you that recruiting the right people is one of the hardest things to get right. Outsourcing a project allows business owners to vet work, and professionalism, without the need for a staff contract.