Nowadays, more and more small business owners are outsourcing aspects of their work. But if you’re new to the field, you might be a bit unsure as to what outsourcing is and what best suits your personal business needs. Here’s everything you need to know about the outsourcing process!
What is Outsourcing?
Outsourcing is a commonly used business practice where businesses use independent third-party companies to complete specific tasks, operations, jobs, or processes. There are various reasons that companies do this. Sometimes outsourcing can save money: it can be cheaper in the short term to use third-party manufacturers to create a short run of goods.
It may also be easier to draw in individuals with independent expertise to complete one-off tasks rather than training one of your own employees or hiring a full-time employee to do one task and serving little more purpose for the benefit of your company.
Why Will It Benefit Me to Keep Things In-House?
While outsourcing is great for one-off tasks, or short production runs, it’s often better to keep things in-house if you plan to repeat the same tasks and manufacturing over and over. For these kind of things, outsourcing can prove more expensive in the long run. It’s better to own the means of production or employ the expert individual in the long-term if you’re going to require their services more regularly.
There are more benefits to doing this than mere cost and profit too. When you outsource, you hand a portion of control of your company over to someone else. You have to place your trust in them and hope that they complete the required work to the quality that you expect.
By keeping things in-house you regain control: you can oversee processes and make tweaks and changes along the way.
What Can I Keep In-House?
Manufacturing can easily be kept largely in-house. Consider investing in machines that you will get repeated and long-term use out of. For example, milling machines, robotic arms, and conveyor belts. This can ensure that your goods are produced, assembled, and packed as quickly as possible and that you can check up on them during every step of the process, assuring quality and precision.
Many people use outsourced market research to save time. But if you have a little patience and work a few extra hours you can do the job yourself. Most of the research is already out there with results posted online. Then you can conduct small-scale specific interviews yourself. Simply use your social media page to find volunteers who will be able to give you a deeper insight and understanding of your brand and brand image.
These are just a couple of areas that you can shift from outsourced work to in-house work. It’s definitely worth the effort in the long run. While you may not see immediate results, you’ll notice the savings that you make mounting up over time. Any outlay for machinery or robotics will pay for itself and slowly turn into profit.
There’ll come a time when you want to make your small business just that little bit larger. When you’ve only been focusing on say, one store site or servicing just one area, then it’s natural that you’ll look to expansion with an air of trepidation. However, let’s put that nervousness to one side for the moment, because growth can be — and should be — exciting, too. If you’re thinking about growth, take a read through our five (5) considerations and put yourself in the best possible position to succeed.
The Why, Where, and How
You might know that you want to grow but aren’t too sure how, where, or even why you want to grow. This is especially true if your growth is largely being fuelled by wanting to make the day-to-day running of your company a little bit more exciting.
First, think of the why. What will be gained from expanding your business? Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll want to look at options for the how and where. This could be opening a new site, offering your services to a new area, going global, or something else.
It cannot be stressed just how important it is that you conduct thorough market research before you commit too much time or money to expanding. If you don’t, you might quickly discover that it wasn’t as good an idea as you thought it was, simply because the demand for what you offer isn’t there.
This is especially important if you’re moving away from your “home territory”, into, say, a neighbouring town. There might already be other companies offering your services there. You would know this – and much more — if you conduct market research.
Evaluating the Costs
The costs of expanding your business won’t be as much as it cost to set up your business in the first place, but the process will be similar, and you will need to have cash on hand to fuel the expansion.
Rather than using the capital you already have, it may be a good idea to get a business advance from a company such as Swift Finance. This will give you the cash you need without compromising the running of your existing business operations.
Can You Handle It?
You might want a new challenge but think carefully about that, because you might think you’ve piled up too much on your plate by trying to juggle too many balls at once. Aside from your own efforts, the expansion will also be dependent on your staff.
You don’t want to spread your company personnel too thin; if you do, the quality of the service you provide might dip, and that’ll be more damaging than a failed expansion.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important that you start small and test the waters before you make the leap. You’ll have many opportunities to cut your losses and back out if you have this approach; dive in head first, and you’ll have the pressure of having to sink or swim.
The current market and, in particular, the rise of online boutique, has made it a lot easier to make a little money by selling your furniture and decorative pieces online. A lot of people are starting to get a taste for making money by selling creations that they put real passion into. Many of them want to step up to the next level. If you’re of that opinion, then you’re going to need to up your game. Here’s how you turn your artisanal efforts into a real business.
Plan for growth
You’re going to lay out the roadmap of how your business is going to operate going forward. If you don’t have a proper business structure separate from your personal accounts, now’s the time to start it. Create budgets and plans on how much you need to sell to start becoming profitable. Do your market research and find the niche you can fit. Start designing pieces that not only fit your own tastes but the trends of the market as it stands. Know your audience and start figuring out how you’re going to reach them and convert them into customers. Knowing your direction by creating documents like a business plan helps you focus on objectives while dealing with the hectic day-to-day of the business.
Hire the right people
If you want to scale your operation up, you’re likely going to need other people to help you. Managing a business and creating furniture at the same time can be difficult. So, who are you going to need? More professionals to help you make furniture? People to handle admin, marketing, and outreach? You should also consider the extra tasks of yours that you don’t necessarily need to hire for. For instance, in building a website or getting your accounts organized and up to date, you can easily outsource, as well. Look at your business plan and separate duties by different roles, then start hiring to fit those roles or using outsourced services to fill them instead.
Get more sensible with your resources
You’ll need a proper plan on how you’re going to handle resources like money and materials. Especially if you’ve received a loan from banks or investors, you need to start accounting for where the money goes. You’re also going to want to make sure that you’re not spending too much on any one aspect of the business. You don’t want costs of materials, tools, and machinery to skyrocket because you’re not buying in bulk, for instance. Get in touch with industrial suppliers, like Kenyon Group, instead of heading for your usual supply store. Use bulk orders from business providers particularly if you’re starting to upscale your business to deal with higher projected demands.
Run sharper logistics
If you’re delivering products, then you’re going to need to not only focus on improving your own supply but also how you supply to your consumers. If you can handle your own logistics, then you should be looking into how to make your packaging and mailing operations all the more efficient and using real data like GPS tracking to make sure your deliveries are as convenient and expedient as possible. A lot of businesses don’t have the room in their budget to account for their fulfillment services, however, so it’s worth considering whether or not you should use outsourced fulfillment companies. These can work as an operational stopgap until you scale to the point you’re able to assume full control over all aspects of the logistics.
Establish your identity
Besides running a smooth company on the inside, you also need to think about building a better perception of the business from the outside. Smaller bespoke operations might let their products do the talking for them. If you want to grow, however, you need to develop an image that talks for the products. For instance, think of the niche you’re hitting and the market you’re targeting. Think about what they value most, whether it’s aesthetic, function, value or otherwise. One of the best ways to establish an online identity is by using content marketing. You can showcase your works by creating décor guides, for instance, showing how your own products can help facilitate the lifestyle that your customers are aiming for.
Spread your name far and wide
After you’ve got the identity and brand of the business nailed down, you need to start figuring out how you disseminate it. Your marketing approach needs to be proactive. You need to make your website more visible through search engine optimization. You have to take to social media, showing galleries of your work, promoting your content and your services. You also need to get on social media to simply be open to feedback from customers and asking their questions. For those customers you win over, consider starting a newsletter, keeping them abreast of all the latest tips and offers. You should consider even adding extra incentive by offering exclusive deals or content only for subscribers.
Start shaking hands
Putting some effort and time into your marketing is crucial. But you shouldn’t be doing it all on your own. You should be making use of the networking opportunities and the community around you to help spread the name even further. For instance, if you know gallery owners, then consider getting your furniture featured in their galleries. Trade shows and seasonal markets are more opportunities you should consider to make your products more physically visible. Establishing your physical presence is important especially if you do most of your business through retailers or online. Of course, using online methods of networking is just as important. For instance, consider using bloggers to feature your pieces in return for a free sample. Get your business featured in the media with announcements, events or off-the-wall marketing strategies.
You don’t have to sacrifice your quality, the bespoke nature of your pieces, or what you love about making furniture. All you have to do is create a real framework for a business beneath it. That passion is a crucial ingredient to success, so keep hold of it.
One of the most important ways to improve your business is to give your customers what they want. By delivering the products, service, and experience that consumers want, you’ll generate more profits. Your reputation will also grow, as people will spread the news of your company’s excellent offerings.
Delivering the perfect customer experience can help get your business to an award-winning standard. There are two steps to start doing this. The first is to find out exactly what consumers in your sector are looking for. The second is to find ways to deliver it to them. Here are some of the ways you can achieve this.
Do Market Research
Doing your research is important to find out exactly how to run a business in your field. Look at other companies in your industry to see what they’re doing that attracts customers. Also, look for statistics and studies on consumer behavior that might help you.
Market research can help you find out what customers buy, how they like to do it, and the kind of experience they look for. Once you’ve figured this out, you can work on altering your company to offer it.
Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO involves figuring out what people are searching for and making your website the most visible for it. Google Trends can give you statistics on what people are searching for in regards to certain categories. By finding out the terms your target customers are using, you can aim your SEO towards them.
There are many SEO practices to make your website more visible for certain search terms. Look at resources online to find out about the latest viable methods. For instance, things like this Google Penguin infographic can help with up-to-date SEO information.
Most companies use an SEO service to manage their search engine optimization. This way, they people with expertise in the field to improve their search engine visibility for their target market.
Finding out what customers in your general field want can help. But the best way to adapt to your particular customer base is to get feedback from them directly.
You should collect feedback from your own customers so you can find out what your business should be doing. You can gather information about what your consumers like, dislike, and want from your business in particular.
There are many ways to get customer feedback. Companies often send customers feedback forms through email after a purchase. This way they have the opportunity to tell you exactly what they thought of your customer experience.
Social media is useful for businesses today in a plethora of ways. Most importantly, it can get companies in close contact with their customers.
Companies should always have social media pages on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It allows customers to send them questions, complaints, and ideas directly. Businesses can find out what their customers are thinking and change their business to suit them.
Make sure your company is active on social media. Also, ensure customers know they can contact you on these sites with any problems or feedback. That way you can get more information to help you deliver the perfect customer experience.