Anyone starting a business soon learns that none of us can do everything ourselves. Employing someone in-house to carry out all of the functions of our business would be expensive, though. There is a cheaper answer: outsourcing.
That frees you and your employees to concentrate on delivering for your clients while keeping down the costs.
Here’s our guide to six key areas you could outsource:
- Accounts and bookkeeping
Many people choose to outsource their accounts and book-keeping. There are a number of accountants who specialise in providing this kind of service to small businesses – including payroll and financial reports alongside their accounting services.
Rates for firms such as these start at around £50 per month – making this a very affordable option for start-ups and small businesses.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur, this service is a godsend. It frees up your time to work on other areas of the business. An outsourced accountant can also give you good feedback on your strategy and financial position.
There is a growing outsourced administration sector. Most towns and cities now have a number of Virtual Assistants who will carry out filing, mail shots, phone answering, emailing clients, keeping an entrepreneur’s diary and setting up meetings. Some also perform functions like event organisation or social media management.
For any business seeking to organise itself, an outsourced VA could be a cost-effective way of keeping on top of paperwork and chasing potential sales leads. Paying between £15 and £25 an hour for a VA is far cheaper than hiring someone in-house.
Most businesses have blogs, websites, flyers, brochures, or promotional postcards, and most need social media posts, testimonials, and copy for email campaigns.
Creating your own content can be time-consuming. There are a number of freelance content creators who could free up your time and avoid the cost of bringing someone into your business as a member of staff.
They bring expertise. Many copywriters are former journalists or qualified in marketing and PR. Often, they have a proven track record.
They also bring creativity – they will bring ideas for blogs and social media posts, and will help optimise the content of your website, brochures, and flyers to appeal to your ideal customers.
You can expect to pay from around £20 for a 350-word blog and from £50 per web page depending on the subject matter, the research needed, and the experience and expertise of the copywriter. Some copywriters would ask for £100 a blog, for example. Longer blogs would cost more.
When it comes to creating visual content, you could employ a freelance designer or videographer. Hourly rates start at around £30.
- Social media
The management of social media is something which can easily be outsourced.
There are a number of ways to do this. You could employ a VA whose role includes social media management, which is the way many smaller businesses choose to outsource this role. This would involve the creation of social media posts, scheduling them, and replying to any messages or interactions.
The benefits? In-house staff are freed up to concentrate on your core business, and outsourced VA rates are often much cheaper than employing someone in-house. A good VA will charge between £15 and £25 per hour.
You could also employ a freelance social media manager or social media agency.
The benefits of this path would be that an agency, for example, would have greater access to resources such as videos and images and would be able to create you a social media calendar and provide you with strategies and reports. Many social media managers are former journalists and press officers trained in media laws such as libel – helping to protect your customer’s reputation on social media.
What you pay for this service depends on how many accounts are being managed, how often posts need to be scheduled, whether you need the creation of new videos or infographics, and what level of reporting you need.
You could expect to pay in the region of £250 to £500 per month.
- Digital marketing
This is far more than just managing social media. Most digital marketing agencies offer a fully-rounded service which includes:
- Social media posts – the creation of content and social media posts, and the management of accounts, strategy, calendars, and reports.
- Social media advertising – pay per click advertising such as adverts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Google Adwords – pay per click search advertising to ensure you get on Google’s front page.
- Digital advertising – banner and other adverts for digital sites.
- SEO services – maximising your search engine results, building backlinks, researching keywords, and optimising your website.
- Website creation and hosting – many agencies offer these services.
- Email campaigns – most agencies have substantial databases and can offer targeted email campaigns.
- Training – getting your staff up-to-speed on the latest innovations and trends.
What you could expect to pay would depend on the services you need and the amount of time a digital agency would be spending on your account and the size and experience of your agency. The cost of a digital marketing freelancer would start at around £50 an hour.
- Human resources
There are a number of experienced HR practitioners and qualified employment lawyers who offer an outsourced HR service.
The benefits include a lower cost than hiring an in-hour HR team, the ability to call in consultants where needed in specialised cases, and some offer online documents and support at a reasonable rate.
What you pay depends on the level of support your business needs. Some HR packages for small businesses are as cheap as £1 a day (£365 a year), and involve standard contracts, regular HR advice and updates, and access to experts.
In any area you choose to outsource, the key thing is finding trusted partners with whom you can build a good working relationship. Look for testimonials and referrals from your existing business contacts when making your decisions.
So, which function in your business will you outsource? Tell us why by leaving us a comment below.