Alright, I'll start with the bold truth: I'm not that great at marketing. Pretty terrible, actually. But that's why when I talk about outsourcing, you should know that I practice what I preach. I've personally outsourced my accounting and my marketing. Why? Simple - it lets me (and my company) adapt at a faster rate.
Outsourcing Facilitates Healthy Business Decisions
Every day we wake up and we make decisions. As a small business owner, it's usually about how my team and I will spend our working hours. Most small business owners think about the same thing, but we all reach a point where we say, "Man, I wish I could get some help on this. I wish I knew more about this."
Ultimately, these feelings are about the following:
- Strengths - If you find yourself running up against a problem that gives you pause, think about it. These sorts of problems usually mean that there is a need for a strength that we haven't developed.
- Time - Anyone who cares about personal development will also care about the time investment involved to get better at something. However, you're running a business in a very time-sensitive age. Do you really have the time to learn it all on your own?
- Money - It always comes back to the budget. Always. Ultimately, this is where many small business owners say, "Well, I guess I'll just have to do it."
It's worth devoting an entirely separate conversation to each one of these topics, but today, I'm going to lay out the game plan for how to outsource properly. Why? Most people don't start their move to outsource with a plan.
No plan = poor communication = chaotic results.
Jim Didn't Outsource his inventory and ERP selection and implementation
The importance of a plan makes sense after you meet Jim. Jim did the tech work at his company. He knew what his company needed, and he knew how they did it before. However, Jim was so busy that he never drew up a plan. He selected a cloud ERP system by himself (again, without a plan), and spent the next 16 months getting poor data management, one great intelligence report - followed by ten useless reports, and a LOT of flack from his team. Jim's lack of planning got him exactly what we would expect - chaotic results.
Jim was ready to throw in the towel when he called Clearinity. Clearinity walked him through the plan and got him what he needed: a 1-week implementation, superb data management, every report he could want (and several he didn't know he could get), and a stress-free team. That plan went something like this:
- Dream - Start by thinking about your strengths and your time, and then start dreaming. "Can I outsource my accounting?" "What if I didn't have to play with the spreadsheet myself?" "I hate being on social media - can someone else do that for me?" "I want to learn about cloud inventory, but I don't know where to start." Dream as big and as weird as you can, because SOMEONE out there does it.
- Budget - Always have a budget. Budget is where our Dream starts to take actual shape, and is an important part of understanding our internal expectations. When thinking of an outsourcing budget, consider INITIAL COSTS and ONGOING COSTS. These will more than pay for themselves in the long run, but you need to know your numbers.
- Research - Research is the first "gut check" to our dreaming and our budget - we should be able to confirm the first two steps right away. First, save yourself time by asking someone you trust for some recommendations. Look at a Wikipedia article to understand the scope of what you're researching. Google a few keywords. In less than 20 minutes, you should have a pretty clear idea of who some key players are and what a budget might be. If you don't feel like understand the entire playing field and how it scales in about 20 minutes, then it's time to talk to an expert.
- Invest - Investment here means "Invest in trust" as well as "Get ready to invest money." If you get a recommendation from a trusted source, you can save yourself even more time on building trust. However, all outsourcing will involve an investment in trust before the dividends start to pay out. A good group to outsource to will understand the trust development and price accordingly; you should have small wins at a low cost before you have to pay the big bucks for the big win.
- Communicate - No matter how much trust you build with someone, it must always be verified. Regular communication, a healthy set of checks-and-balances, and periodic check-ins are a must for ANY outsourcing!
Now that YOU have a game plan, start dreaming. If you're struggling with spreadsheets, data flow, confusing integrations, difficult accounting, or technology adoption, these are the kinds of issues that Clearinity solves every day. If your dreaming takes you somewhere else, talk with Conrad and he'll be sure to connect you with someone else who knows the right answer!