Reading that title can strikes fear in the heart of many business owners. It smacks of the inevitable and the unknown. Your blood pressure increases.
Maybe your face flushes a bit. It is time to scale and you want to make sure you do it right. There are so many factors involved.
What should you outsource? What should you delegate? Where should you start first? While there is no perfect guide for scaling a business, there are a few universal principles. Outsourcing will play a major role in your efforts. Let's explore for a bit.
Related Article: Made in the U.S.A: Is Outsourcing Dead?
No, this is not assembly line talk. The scope is much larger than that. It applies to in-house tasks or services you need, or may already have. The nutshell version is this. Anything that can be automated should be.
Data storage, employee training procedures, marketing, payroll and paying bills, automate all of it.
Doing this can save thousands when you scale. The key is to start early while you are still flexible as a company. Then, as you begin to scale, increase the services as necessary along with your package plan.
You can start with your existing telecommunications structure and then integrate a cloud-based trunking service when it’s time to scale.
Companies like Netflix and Mozilla were able to expand and scale their call and communications capacity with trunking service Zentrunk in this way. The per minute pricing for such services actually decrease as the volume of your calls increase, making it a no brainer for large enterprises.
The same is true with many of the services mentioned previously.
If you can automate a certain aspect of your company, you should, so long as you adhere to these two rules:
- You do not compromise quality. Any changes here will be noticed. Remember, your customers are savvy. They can tell if you are trying to cut corners.
- The service can scale with you in price. Avoid paying for a service that touts itself as being premier, or the best. While it may be, you can find something to suit your needs at a price point that will scale with you. This will keep you from breaking the bank to impress with your new accounting service.
Look at the two guidelines above as cautionary tales. They will maximize your cash flow so you can remain viable.
After all, cash flow is the lifeblood of day-to-day operations. Now let's speak to task oriented issues. There are several items you may consider outsourcing when it is time to scale.
Related Article: To Outsource or In-house: When Outsourcing Works Best for Startups
These are things that do not need to be performed regularly. There are three basic types that are prime candidates as noted by Gregg Landers, Director of Growth and Management for CBIZ MHM. Using these can save you thousands so you can scale proportionately.
These are tasks that would normally require a person with a C title to perform. They require certain expertise, but you might not be able to afford that person right now.
You can still outsource though. For example, you might not require a CFO, but you could probably hire one to run your financials through the mill once a quarter to make sure your AR department is on point.
Tasks That are Repetitive
Remember that AR department I mentioned above? You might be able to outsource it, too.
Other similar outsourcing possibilities are things like product shipping, administrative assistance and data entry.
Anything that is highly repetitive always has the potential to be outsourced when you scale.
Specific Knowledge. Any task where special or specific knowledge is required can probably be outsourced when you need to scale.
For example, your IT needs will change, yet they may not change so much that you require your own dedicated IT staff. Outsource it instead.
Thinking through the process of what to automate and which tasks to outsource when it is time to scale your business will prove invaluable in the long run.
Start thinking through the issues now. Take a long look at your goals and how your projections are tracking before you make a decision.
Look at where you are and where you want to be. This will help you make decisions as to what you should scale first.
Knowing what needs to be outsourced, and when to do it, is the biggest part of the decision making process.
It's important to go through your company and look at everything so you can make the best move when the time comes.
This removes a significant amount of stress. Just give your findings permission to speak honestly to you. This will keep you from installing fully functional departments in your company, when the numbers say you are right on the edge, and there could be better options.
It will give you the peace of mind you need to maintain focus and direction for future growth. In time, the numbers will tell a different story.
Then it will be time to start the process all over again.