No small business is an island. Even the most sophisticated startups with extensive financial backing need to find service providers of different kinds. That might mean using an on-call legal team for occasional assistance with corporate filings, copyright questions, intellectual property disputes, and more. In addition, the majority of startups prefer to seek outside professionals to take care of tax filings, legal chores, IT issues, and other niche duties that they’d prefer to outsource for their first few years of existence.
Later, as companies grow, they often build in-house, permanent teams to handle virtually every essential function needed to keep their doors open. But for the huge majority of organizations, those early growth years mean hiring others to do various essential jobs. Here’s a look at some of the most commonly outsourced service solutions that new owners and managers use on a regular basis.
Tax and Accounting
It’s often said that the major growth areas in the business services industry include all those things that 99 percent of people dislike doing. Perhaps that’s why one of the largest, oldest, and most financially stable industries is the field of outsourced tax and accounting services. CPA firms valued at billions of dollars exist for the sole reason that company owners would rather hire a licensed, experienced professional than do the work in-house. Of course, most large corporations have their own accounting departments and typically use CPA’s for annual audits and a few other functions. But millions of startups, micro-businesses, and sole proprietors hire firms or individual financial pros to do tax preparation, payroll, audits, budgeting, cashflow analysis, routine bookkeeping, and dozens of other chores.
Temp and Freelance Workers
When it comes to human resources, there are dozens of ways to find service solutions that work for your company. It’s a fact that hiring freelance employees can put you a step ahead of the competition. Freelancers, independent contractors, solo consultants, and other terms refer to the same type of worker: someone who can come in temporarily and do a specific job, and then leave. In some industries, like construction and teaching, the use of short-term help has been part of the scene for more than a century.
Nowadays, small companies and startups of all sizes are discovering that hiring skilled labor for targeted tasks can be a smart way to avoid the expense and legal hassles of maintaining a permanent work force. If you’ve ever used a virtual assistant, content writer, temp secretary, legal consultant, or outside accountant, then you’ve already experienced what it’s like to opt for a short-term service and pay someone other than a company employee to do a job.
Companies that don’t have dedicated, in-house IT teams often outsource the entire function. Even large corporations who do have the financial resources for a complete IT staff choose to hire outsiders to do at least part of the function. The Solarwinds Service Desk software is a good example of how company owners can take advantage of a customized service desk that helps streamline the ticketing process. In addition to helping busy managers keep track of tickets that come in from multiple sources, outsources IT services can take on just about any technical chore you’d rather not do yourself. Sometimes the solution consists of sophisticated software with comprehensive, live support teams. Other ways of sending your tech jobs to experts include hiring individual freelancers to troubleshoot on an ad hoc basis, farm out specific projects to temporary teams of tech workers, or paying for as-needed, or break/fix support for all your computer systems and programs.
One of the newest areas of growth in the whole outsourcing industry is customer service. What used to be strictly an in-house affair is now commonly done by professionals who offer their skills to any company that wishes to hire them. Your choices in this segment vary widely, from cloud-based customer-relationship-management (CRM) solutions to full-scale contact center support that focuses on keeping your existing clients happy and making sure to handle the new ones exactly right.
One reason small entity opt for CRM software, agencies, and experts is because of the cost to maintain a dedicated staff to handle the job. Dealing with people, especially customers who have questions and might be combative, is an art. Seasoned pros who devote their careers to the pursuit are worth their weight in gold and are highly sought by company owners and managers, especially owners of startups.
The expense associated with maintaining a legal staff is prohibitive, even for larger enterprises. That’s why the majority of small and medium-sized organizations tend to pay law firms to handles every type of issue that comes along, including defense against suits filed by hostile parties. But by and large, lawyers who do ad hoc work for businesses deal with more routine challenges. Nevertheless, sometimes you just have to have a lawyer, so it’s become common for small companies to keep law firms on retainer or to use the same firm whenever a need arises.
Sales and Marketing
Enlisting the aid of an e-commerce freelancer can make a huge difference for a new entity that just opened its doors. Many college and grad students earn a part-time income doing this sort of work, as do fully staffed agencies who handle social media, ad buying, copy writing, marketing campaign creation, sales follow-up studies, and every other type of sales/marketing chore under the sun.