When you’re just getting started as an entrepreneur, it can be hard to justify hiring any help if finances are tight. But as you grow revenue and your time becomes increasingly more valuable, you’ll find benefits that come with outsourcing business tasks that you don’t need to be involved with.
Some business tasks can be outsourced completely. Others are components of a bigger task or project that you still need to complete. Either way, having someone else shoulder some of your work helps you reduce stress, be more productive and make more money (because you’ll be able to focus on what you’re best at). Who can argue with those perks?
In some cases, the proper help can keep your business running without much intervention on your part. But even if you still have to be present some of the time, it’s hard to argue against the benefits of hiring specialized help to take your business to the next level.
Let’s take a look at how to start outsourcing business tasks, including some options you may not have considered.
1. Administrative tasks & hiring
Whether or not your business operates online, virtual assistants are some of the most common, introductory level staff members that you can add to your team. They are online-based workers who do administrative tasks to support your business, and many have a specialty focus, like social media management.
A virtual assistant can help you with a number of other administrative tasks, such as:
- Coordinating meetings
- Organizing your email
- Training new members of your team
- Answering customer service emails
- Document management & data entry
As your business starts to take on a life of its own, your virtual assistant can also help you with hiring additional support by:
- Putting together various job descriptions
- Identifying job boards and other recruitment methods for finding new hires
- Evaluating incoming applications and identifying those with high potential
- Scheduling interviews and pre-employment tests
Hiring should actually be one of the last tasks you decide to outsource because it requires placing a significant amount of trust in your virtual assistant. After all, you’re giving them the keys to grow your business! To be effective, your virtual assistant must have a good understanding of your business and its needs so they can help identify the best possible candidates.
To find a virtual assistant, consider looking for freelancers on Upwork and Fiverr. Price is not always indicative of quality; virtual assistants in areas with a lower cost of living can produce excellent work with very favorable payment terms.
The more you work with your virtual assistant, the easier and more intuitive this process will become for both of you. Encourage your new teammate to ask as many questions as they need before diving into the project. And don’t forget to set expectations (like time or amount of information) so you’re not surprised if they go overboard with their research (and their invoice!).
2. Research tasks
One of the most useful business tasks to outsource if you’re building a team is research, which can have broad implications for your business. Think about hiring a researcher for things like:
- Finding expert links and statistics for an upcoming blog post
- Creating a report comparing pros/cons, pricing and other data for a tool you’re considering
- Culling through industry news to find the best information to repost on your company’s social media channels
- Finding the best deals on flights and accommodations for an upcoming business trip
Think of your research assistant as a concierge of information. When you’re ready to start outsourcing business tasks, consider upcoming research projects that may otherwise take up a big chunk of your time, but don’t require a high level of expertise to complete. Then, make sure to put together basic guidelines for the information you need, any helpful sources and your preferred format of delivery.
3. Bookkeeping, taxes and accounting tasks
One of the most challenging parts of owning a small business or being an entrepreneur is having to take on a bunch of roles in addition to growing your company and delivering for clients. Since everyone hates math (or at least all sane individuals), bookkeeping may be a stressful time suck that gets in the way of your primary business activities.
Luckily, you don’t actually have to handle it all by yourself. That said, hiring a bookkeeper isn’t cheap, but having a professional handle your day-to-day accounting can be beneficial especially when it comes to preparing taxes. If someone actually wants to do it, why burden yourself?
Working with a bookkeeper and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) automatically reduces your chances of being audited, which can be problematic for any business. An audit requires strict scrutiny of deductions and time to gather all of your financial information. To nip this potential problem in the bud, invest in professional help. If you collect sales tax or have employees on payroll, your tax prep will become more complex, which certainly requires professional financial oversight.
Financial business tasks you should outsource include:
- Expense entry and categorization
- Tax preparation and filing
- Debt collection
- Accounts payable
For best results, find a professional, not just a random person who claims to be the real deal. Consider the pre-vetted experts at Bench. Bookkeeping plans start at $110/month (when paid annually), and scale up according to monthly expenses.
When considering a bookkeeper, you can also ask for recommendations from others in your industry or community to start. Plus, bookkeeping and accounting software tools like Quickbooks also provide access to a pre-vetted pool of accountants.
4. Design and imagery tasks
If you have little or no experience with graphic or web design, don’t try to teach yourself from scratch when you’re already profitable focusing on what you do best. It’s great to know design basics, but leave the hard stuff to the professionals who will do a better job, faster.
Design may refer to several different things, depending on your business and specific needs. Here are a few types of design work that you’ll deal with, regardless of your industry:
- Graphic design: branding assets (like logos, style guide, letterhead), print materials (like brochures, flyers, door hang tags), social media images, etc.
- Website design: The look, feel, and structure of your website.
99designs (hi there!) is the perfect market to start your search for skilled individuals in graphic and website design. Small business owners and entrepreneurs benefit from the ability to commission multiple concepts and styles before deciding on “the one.”
Besides graphic design and website design, there are additional design-related business tasks you should outsource, such as:
- Photography: Custom photos like headshots and stock photos for your website
- Videography: Everything from shooting video content for various business needs. Video marketing is trending as one of the best ways to grab attention.
- Editing: Depending on your needs, your business may require additional photography/video edits.
Any of these deliverables can certainly be cobbled together by an amateur, but as you grow and seek to be associated with a more professional image and more premium customer, you’ll want to invest in higher quality branding and visual assets.
For custom photography and videography needs, you’ll likely need to work with someone in person. Start by getting recommendations from your own personal and professional network. Craigslist is also a great option for connecting with local photographers and videographers. Make sure to look through their portfolio and testimonials to ensure their style, quality and personality match your brand.
If you don’t need custom visual assets just yet, we’ve put together a great list of 30 places to find royalty-free images.
5. Sales tasks
Before you hire your own sales force, consider outsourcing the task of spreading the word about your products/services through a dedicated team of affiliate marketers. These people will leverage their targeted (and usually large) audience and promote relevant products while receiving a commission for each sale.
For a small business, this means no risk and 100% reward. You only pay your salesperson when a sale is made, and you can base their commission on the margin between your profit and other existing costs. Strike a balance that motivates your affiliates to work hard for you without sacrificing too much margin.
iDevAffiliate and ImpactRadius are two affiliate marketing tools to consider when building out your program. iDevAffiliate makes it easy for affiliates to create custom links and track their referral traffic and it’s resulting effectiveness. ImpactRadius works very similarly, with advanced tracking options and flexible payouts.
Affiliate marketers will want access to tools that help maximize their commissions, so arm them with the knowledge as to how to use your chosen platform effectively. For best results, survey potential affiliates for features that are most important to them before you decide on a platform.
Finding affiliates can be challenging, but consider starting off by testing the waters with your existing fans and email subscribers. From there, offer rewards to affiliates that successfully refer other high-quality affiliates.
6. Marketing tasks
Without marketing, how will anyone know that your product or service even exists? When marketing is turned to as a last-ditch effort, it tends to be more expensive and less effective. So instead of waiting until it’s almost too late, start a consistent marketing strategy now.
Marketing encompasses a wide range of business tasks you can outsource, including:
- Email marketing: Engage with customers over email.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Channel organic search traffic to your website.
- Content marketing: Use content to convert customers.
- Social media marketing: Use social networks to build relationships and sales.
- Marketing automation: Automate follow-ups based on customer behavior across multiple touch points.
- Pay per click (PPC) marketing: Reach relevant searchers with ads in search engines.
- Public relations (PR): Use press mentions and influencer relationships to reach a new audience.
- Website and blog management: Maintain up-to-date information on this communication channel.
Don’t be tempted to find one person to do all of these things.
Specialized marketers will be more effective in their efforts, so consider attacking one of these verticals at a time, slowly adding to your team based on your business growth.
Since each role is so different, there’s no single place to seek out people to help with each of these tasks. That said, LinkedIn Profinder provides access to some of the top freelancers and agencies on the platform who must have a LinkedIn Premium account. Consider taking advantage of LinkedIn Jobs if you’re seeking full-time help.
7. Writing tasks
You have a solid vision for your company, so find the perfect person to sell it using the written word. Effective writing requires significant attention to detail, an eye for grammar and a technical understanding of the subject matter.
Consider outsourcing writing tasks like:
- Copywriting for print and digital
- Content marketing
- Blog posts
- eBooks and whitepapers
- Social media posts
- Audio transcriptions
While it’s certainly possible to outsource these tasks to a writer on the cheap, the best writers know their value in terms of the power their words command for a business and charge accordingly.
To find your writer, consider specialized writing job boards like these:
When creating an ad to attract a writer, make sure to be clear about expectations and compensation so only the most qualified applicants respond.
Go virtual, go-getter!
If you do it right, outsourcing business tasks can lead to a fully automated business with enough revenue to make sure everyone gets paid (including yourself!). For best results, start small and scale up as your business grows and you need additional sets of hands and expertise.
What are some other ways you’ve started outsourcing business tasks? Anything we missed? List them in the comments below.
This article was written by Maddy Osman. Maddy is an SEO Content Strategist who puts humans at the center of every piece. When she’s not writing, she’s helping Freelancers Union Denver, BMA Colorado and WordCamp Denver run smoothly!