When you first start up your own business, chances are you take on the majority of the work associated with the business yourself. This is understandable. You’re still finding your feet, you probably have a limited budget and you probably have limited time to find helping hands. But as time progresses and your business begins to better establish itself and become more stable, you are going to need to bring in help from others to keep everything up and running. One person can only do so much and specialise in so many areas. Many hands make light work and will ensure each job in your company is completed to the best standard possible. But many small business owners don’t know where to start when it comes to looking for help. The following guide should introduce you to the basics of everything you need to know!
The first option that you have when it comes to accepting help with your business is outsourcing. This is the option that most small businesses will first take when they’re still finding their feet and establishing their brand. Hiring permanent employees is a huge responsibility that many small business owners would like to avoid until later down the line. After all, you probably still don’t know what roles you’ll permanently need in your business while you’re still seeing what sells, what works and what doesn’t. Hiring permanent employees means providing contracted hours, which in turn means providing contracted pay. You don’t want to find that your sales don’t take off as expected and all of your profits are going to employees rather than having anything free to further build your business. Hiring permanent employees also means providing employee benefits, such as sick pay, annual leave, parental leave, pension contributions and more. When you’re first starting out, you might not be generating sufficient income to cover all of these things. So, what’s the alternative? As we’ve briefly highlighted: outsourcing.
What Is Outsourcing?
Outsourcing is a common business practice. It essentially involves handing over parts of your work to an independent third party. This independent third party might be a self-employed individual (otherwise known as a freelancer). They may be an agency who will put you in touch with the right freelancer to meet your needs. Alternatively, they may be a company that hires their own staff and will take care of part of your business process as their business.
What Are the Benefits of Outsourcing?
When you outsource, you hand over tasks on a task by task basis. You don’t commit to providing the freelancer with work forever. You pay for what you can afford and then you can cut ties until you need their services again if you please.
Another benefit of outsourcing is that freelancer or third party companies use their own equipment. You don’t have to invest in the gadgets, tech or machinery they use to complete the work you’re asking of them. They’ll have this themselves. This is particularly beneficial when outsourcing an area like manufacturing. If you manufacture in-house, you’ll need to buy warehouse or factory machinery, which can be extortionate, and you may change your product a few months down the line, rendering the machinery useless for you and having to invest in something else. If you outsource your manufacturing, the manufacturer will already have the machinery and if you change your products, you simply stop putting orders in with them and start putting orders in with a different manufacturer with the different machinery you need.
Once your business is better established, you may want to consider taking on your own, permanent, in-house staff.
Advertising the Job
Once you know who you’re looking for, it’s time to advertise the job and hope that the right candidate applies! Now, there are a number of different ways to advertise a job. The most traditional way is (if you have a storefront or commercial premises) to print and stick up a job advertisement on the building. This will attract local candidates. However, nowadays, the more common (and perhaps more convenient) option is to post a job advertisement on a digital jobs board. Here, you can outline the role and your candidates can apply as you instruct. Your job description should detail:
- The role title
- The location of the role
- The salary bracket for the position
- A brief description explaining your company
- A brief description of what the job entails
- Education candidates will require
- Experience candidates will require
- Any necessary training, qualifications or certifications the candidate will need
- If the candidate needs to drive
- How to apply (usually by email or through the job site itself)
Chances are you’ll get a lot of applications for your position. You need to filter through these to determine appropriate candidates and those who don’t suit the role. If you have too many applications, you may want to use a recruitment agency’s services to do this work on your behalf.
Once you have potential candidates filtered out, you can start to invite them for interviews. Often, businesses will conduct a first stage phone interview. This will allow you to get a feel for the candidate, hear their experience and determine whether they seem right for the role. If they do, you can invite them for a video or in-person interview. Actually meeting the person will help you to determine who is the best fit for your company. General popular interview questions that can help you to come to the conclusion of whether a candidate is appropriate or not include:
- Tell us a little about yourself – this will give you insight into their character and whether they would be a good fit for your team
- What’s your past experience? – this will determine whether they have the necessary skills to carry out the role well
- Why are you interested in working for this company? – this will help you to see whether they’re genuinely interested in working for you or if they’re using your company as a stepping stone
- Where do you see yourself in five years? – this can help you to see if your company can provide them with the progression they hope to see
Offering the Position
By now, you probably know which candidate you think is right for the position. So, it’s time to make them an offer. Don’t reject other candidates quite yet. You should keep them in the process in case your first choice rejects your offer. You can offer the position in a number of ways – by email, by phone or by video call. Be prepared to detail all of the details of the work contract with your candidate, including the pay you’re offering them, the working hours required and company benefits. Your chosen candidate may agree right away, or they may have found another position more suitable for them. Alternatively, you may find that you have to barter with your candidate to get them to agree to the role. Know what you’re willing to pay and what you’re not willing to pay before entering into this conversation.
But you may need to carry out a few checks to ensure that they can work for your company. First, you may need to check their passport or working visas to ensure that they can legally work for you. Second, you may want to carry out a background check or criminal history check – this is often essential if the role you’re recruiting for involves work with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable members of society. Depending on the position, you may also need to carry out a medical for work. Another common check is a reference check. This is basically a check with their previous employer to confirm that they actually worked in the company and that they are recommended as a good employee.
A Combination Approach
It’s important to note that you don’t have to rely entirely on outsourcing your work or entirely on in-house, employed staff. Instead, you can combine the two approaches to ensure that every aspect of the work you need carried out is covered. The vast majority of businesses take this approach. Common areas to outsource across most companies include:
- IT Solutions
- Market Research
- Business Development
This applies even when companies have huge in-house teams! So, don’t feel like you need to commit to one approach. Instead, just figure out what works best for your company and go with that!
Now, this is going to seem like a whole lot of information to take in – and it is. But, sticking to the process and ideas above should help all of the cogs in your business to keep turning. Whatever approach you take, remember you can always be adaptable and change your mind!