By Adeola Agunbiade/Bright Business Solutions
Small to medium businesses are extremely vital in any economy, and often times, this business category can be the most overlooked.
Little wonder therefore that researches reflect that small businesses fail faster than any other type of business, particularly under a soft & unpredictable economy!
From research, about 80 percent of businesses fail within the first five years of starting up and of those that are still trading; only one in five does so profitably.
What is the most common cause of business failure? Insufficient profits- cash flow problems!
While there is no magic wand to wave to ensure that every business succeeds, there are steps that can be put in place to minimise the occurrence of failure.
In Nigeria today, businesses are faced with a lot of challenges such as; funding, lack of skilled manpower, inadequate business support facilities/resources and lack of consistent power supply to mention a few. The overhead costs are greatly increased as a result of some of these challenges, when compared with businesses in developed nations.
This article is therefore set to address just one of the many vital steps that can be taken to improve business success;
If properly managed, what works well for most businesses, regardless of size or geographical location is Outsourcing.
There comes a time in the lifecycle of a small business when the activities required to deal with the business become so enormous in terms of task requirements, time management and lastly, but not the least bit less importantly, costs.
The benefits which come with outsourcing tasks to others are enormous and thankfully the internet age has provided easy ways of hiring help in the form of virtual assistant services much more efficiently.
It is undeniable that the virtual services industry is steadily making its mark all over the world with more and more businesses, outsourcing more and more tasks to outside help in order to focus more on other vital aspects of their businesses.
Virtual assistance is a professional service offered by virtual service providers to businesses all over the world. Virtual assistants deliver their services by way of remote channels such as online, telephone, letters and so on. Outsourcing business tasks is one of the smartest steps any business owner can ever take to help their businesses become more successful.
If truth be told, successful business owners claim that having a virtual assistant is one of the most vital keys to the success of their small businesses.
Just why is it that so many business owners are now outsourcing so much for the survival of their business ventures and how do you recognise whether this is the right way for your business to go?
How to recognise that you require outsourcing
- You have a weak profit margin
- Business is experiencing cashflow problems
- High overhead costs
- Lack of specialist skills required to run your business
Some benefits of outsourcing
- Outsourcing reduces the costs involved in the day-to-day running of any business.
- Many companies are able to save money since the virtual assistants are liable for their own costs.
- A good virtual assistant is another mode of networking for your particular business.
- Usually specialists in their particular field, virtual assistants provide the best services available.
- The virtual assistant operates from a remote location; there is no start-up cost to pay in employing their services, compared with a temping agency.
- You will pay one-third of the productivity level than if the virtual assistant was working in an office.
- You save time by outsourcing.
- You get all types of services without having to undergo training yourself or train someone else to do it.
- Virtual assistants come with their own equipment, meaning you do not have to pay for them.
- Virtual assistants are able to work outside of normal office hours – in their own time.
- Outsourcing provides businesses with flexibility in terms of short term turnarounds.
- You save costs since you do not have to fork out for holiday pay, sickness benefits and other similar benefits you pay employees.
- Virtual assistants are self employed business owners and often act with that mindset.
- Virtual assistants ease the stress on your business.
- They come furnished with information on other services that will benefit your business at reasonable charges.
- You can terminate the services of virtual assistants at any time if you are not happy with the services provided without having to pay severance costs, etc.
- Outsourcing physical office space (depending on your business type) means that you don’t even have to pay rents, leases or purchase separate work place buildings.
Services that can be outsourced
You can outsource quite a lot of tasks such as; business strategy, web design, technical aspects of your business, marketing, secretarial duties, mail duties, etc.
Typical virtual office services include:
- Physical Office Space
- Mail Forwarding
- Telephone Centre
- Support staff
This is by no means an exhaustive list since businesses often perform tasks outside of office duties; they can outsource much more of these, depending on the business type.
When you outsource to outside agents, they become your business partners and so you need to develop a strategic relationship with them.
Trust building is critical and as they will not be operating from your location most of the time, if at all, you need to schedule face-to-face meetings with your virtual assistants as often as is necessary.
Having a good relationship with a virtual assistant is extremely helpful to make your business flourish and grow. Mantra for lasting relationship with your virtual assistant is the quality of communication you have with him/her.
There are things business owners must decide on before outsourcing aspects of their business tasks.
Before commencing, you need to know what you’re getting into. Knowing what and how to outsource is the first step to obtaining substantial financial gains. Outsourcing must be completed skilful and mustn’t be rushed to avoid disappointing results, especially if there are sensitive aspects to your business.
Other things you need to consider are:
- What you need to outsource – Carry out a business assessment looking at all the aspects of your business, determine the elements you can successfully outsource.
- Determine who you will outsource to – shop around before making a decision; remember, you need to get this right. Ask for recommendations from others who have satisfactorily used the services of virtual assistants.
- Determine whether your business requirements require the services of virtual assistants on a part time or full time basis.
- Once you have decided on the three points above, draw up a contract between you and the virtual agent so every one is clear about what is expected of them.
In summary, as has been enumerated above, outsourcing goes a long way in reducing the costs incurred by businesses if handled correctly. The costs saved can then be used to operate other aspects of the business that require more attention.
We have highlighted that outsourcing:
- Reduces business costs
- Saves a lot of time
- Reduces training costs
- Gives flexibility
- Provides specialist services
- Increases networking opportunities
- Provides quick project turnaround
- Improves small businesses’ chances of operating competitively
- Increases profit margins by reducing costs
- Improves business professionalism
In conclusion, businesses, you are not alone – well-managed outsourcing is working for businesses like yours all over the world. If you are looking to save money, look professional and take yourself to the next level cost effectively, outsourcing is your best option.
Adeola Agunbiade is an accomplished and much-sought after business leader with a track record of delivering strong business results. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org