Oust the Outsourcing: Your Smaller Business Can Manufacture Its Own Products!

Manufacturing is a massive task, and many small and medium-sized business write off the idea of doing so and choose to outsource instead. Outsourcing is great in many ways, it one less thing for you personally to worry about as you can put the task in the hands of a reliable and experienced business who you know will provide you with excellent products.

However this service does come at a cost, and every month where you’re using another company there’s a cut taken from your profits. It is completely possible as a smaller business to manufacture products yourself and therefore cut out the middle man, but there are some things to bear in mind too. Here are a few of them.

Practicalities

First things first, you will need to consider the practicalities. You will need to find a suitable business premises that’s in the right location and is the right size. It should have good transport links and ideally be situated close to your other business premises for better productivity and less transport costs. You will then need to source all of the vehicles, machines, tools and equipment needed for your business.

Often businesses close down and sell of their items for cheap, you could also check auctions and other places for second-hand bargains. Companies like Altium provide electronics design software, these are the kinds of things you might need depending on the kind of business you run. Otherwise, look at good suppliers in the area and make sure you have everything you need to get started.

Setup Costs

One of the biggest problems when it comes to manufacturing your own products is the upfront cost. While it will save you money in the long run compared with outsourcing, those initial costs are high and so this is something you will need to be aware of. Set a budget, and don’t forget things like premises cost, maintenance cost as well as recruiting and training staff members. If you’re able to afford to do all of this, you will save money overall and turn a better profit each month. You could go into business with a partner, or even look for investors for your SMB if the costs are currently too high.

Health and Safety

Finally, every business has health and safety concerns. Even in an office, a very safe environment, you could slip or trip or fall down stairs. However it’s even more of a problem in a manufacturing plant. Heavy machinery and power tools, chemicals, hot liquids and falling from heights are all risks. Make sure your health and safety is up to scratch and everything is being followed to the letter. Staff should have the correct training and experience for their role, and you should have the right insurances in place in case anything does go wrong.

Would you consider manufacturing your own products in your SMB? Do you find outsourcing more convenient, or are you fed up of how much it cuts into your profits each month?

Keep Things In-house to Maintain Your Control over Your Small Business

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!

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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

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.

Market Research

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.

4 Tasks Your Small Business Can Afford to Outsource

Are you spending too much time on mundane tasks rather than actually operating your business? It’s certainly not uncommon for business owners today. In fact, as little as 15 % of them feel that they spend their time on the kind of tasks that will make their companies prosper — instead, they’ll be walking on the same tracks, completing the same processes, without really being able to grow.

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There is a way out of this for everyone, though, and the quicker you realize that you can’t do it all on your own, the easier it will be to focus on the tasks that really matter. Here is a neat list of the top processes a small business should have outsourced yesterday, making your week at work a lot more manageable — and clearing the space for growth and success.

IT Services

Unless you’re running an IT company, it makes little sense to dedicate an entire department to this. Most companies outsource these processes, by the way, as many as 53 % of companies — and 26 % of them plan to outsource it as soon as possible.

By relying on third-party vendors as well as cloud computing, you’re also making your company more flexible and will even benefit from the amount of knowledge an entire IT crew can provide you with. It’s a whole other story than a few employees in the office, stationed at their desks, and ready to help when they’re needed.

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Customer support

While some people may oppose to outsourcing customer support seeing that direct contact with customers is vital to building a lasting relationship, consider this first; small companies are often unable to hire dedicated customer support staff, forcing them to delegate it to some of their existing employees. This is bad for business in more ways than one.

First of all, the employee is unable to spend time on what they do best, making your company miss out on valuable productivity. Secondly, they won’t be as well-trained as an actual customer support agency which puts you at risk of losing customers.

Outsource this task while your company is still relatively small, let your team focus on their job, and hire professional customer support staff to be in-house when you’ve grown bigger. It’s as simple as that. Make sure you scrutinise your options, however, as the costs and quality may vary.

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People

When you’re still young and unable to pay for the kind of quality you’d like, hiring freelancers may be the best option. As many as three out of four small businesses in the US admit that the use of freelancers gives them a competitive edge; when the talent is there, but you can’t afford to hire it, you can simply put a contract on it instead.

The same goes for finding the next talents for your flourishing company, and a procurement recruitment agency is perfect for any new business as they can make sure you’ve got the best kind of staff on every level, right from the start.

Accounting

Every process that is repetitive and mundane both can and should be outsourced. Accounting and payroll are certainly one of them, but 60 % of business are still completing it in-house rather than just handing it over to a third-party.

When you can afford to treat yourself to a professional accounting team, it’s all well and good — but most small businesses lack this kind of resources, and choose to delegate it to an existing employee instead.

It’s perhaps a bit more cost-effective than outsourcing, yet the risk they run is way too big; when something goes wrong with the payroll or accounting system, everything tends to tumble downhill. It will cost your company quite some money in fines, you lose the valuable addition of team members who can focus on their job rather than accounting — and your employees will be very unhappy with you.

With the correct kind of software and a few tech-savvy workers, you can easily continue to do it in-house, though. Just remember that the software should be comprehensive enough to take care of all the processes without being too complicated for them to understand — otherwise, you end up spending a lot of time on training.

Keep in mind that, by outsourcing to a reputable company, your business is also gaining the expert knowledge and support of an entire team you didn’t have before. They’ll be able to give you that competitive edge, helping you to growth and success a bit faster.

Finding the Perfect Employees by Hiring Without Perspiring

Whatever the nature of your business, you need to know that you’re hiring the right people to facilitate its ongoing growth and prosperity. Many entrepreneurs go it alone, but more tend to go into business with friends, veteran colleagues or at the very least people they already have a good working relationship with. It makes total sense for businesses to be built on the backs of people who know and trust each other, who share the risks and rewards equally. When all the hard work and endeavour pay off, and the business grows, then it becomes necessary to cast the net and recruit a new breed of employees to contribute to the growth of the business and take it to the next level. When this happens, however, it can be difficult for smaller businesses to know how to recruit and retain those top-tier candidates.

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Outsource your recruitment where possible

One of the hardest lessons for an entrepreneur to learn is when to let go and entrust a facet of their business’ operation to an outsourced company. This is as true for recruitment as it is for IT support or marketing. While, you’ll want to get a personal impression of your new candidates, it’s an uncomfortable truth that you may be less able to discern the best quite as well as an outsourced recruitment agency.

If you would rather not fully outsource the process, employment verification from ClearStar may be a happy medium. This will allow you to perform your own background checks in an easy and accessible way. That said, outsourcing recruitment has some inherent advantages:

  • Reduced costs: Outsourcing your recruitment saves money on advertising the position, venue hire for interviews and the cost of candidate background screening. These costs are borne by the agency and in exchange for an up-front fee, which will generally reduce both your cost-per-hire and time-per-hire.
  • Limits the impact on your productivity: Recruiting a high volume off staff in a short space of time, can devour time and resources (especially if you’re new to the recruitment business). This lost time can be damaging to your on productivity in ways that have a knock-on effect on your output.
  • It’s more effective: Recruitment agencies are not only adept at identifying and vetting great candidates, they also work with the aims and priorities of the business in mind. Most entrepreneurs are ideally placed to identify the areas in which the right personnel can benefit their business, recruitment agencies are better placed to spot the attributes that complement this in their candidates.

But, now you’ve got the right candidates, how do you retain them to make sure they don’t jump ship and swim over to your competitors? One word — onboarding.

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Onboarding

Onboarding is vital in ensuring that new employees have the best possible start and hit their stride as quickly as possible so that they can bring their skills and experience to bear on your business without a long and frustrating interstice.

Ideally all existing employees should be made aware of the new addition to the team prior to them starting so that they will already have an idea of who the new person is and how they will fit in. They should have the facilities and training to be great at what they do from day one and should turn up on their first day of work with all their paperwork done and ready so that they can get started on the task at hand.

With just a little preparation the right candidates will be part of the furniture before you know it, making real and meaningful contributions to your ongoing business success.

How Much Office Space Is Too Much?

Hiring a large office space is quite a significant overhead that could be eating into your profits like Pac-Man. While it might be nice to have a good amount of space, if you aren’t using it all then you’re just burning money for no reason.

As long as you have enough space for your employees to work comfortably, that’s all you need, anything more is a waste. It will also cost you more money to have the office cleaned if it’s oversized. All that extra money could be put back into the business to help you expand so it’s definitely worth taking a look at the space you are using and seeing whether it is possible to downgrade.

Here are five (5) ways that you can reduce the space you use and move into a smaller office.

Servers

If your business stores a lot of data, it is likely that you will have servers somewhere in the building. These take up a huge amount of space so you’ll probably be using a whole room for it. It is important to have backups, but storing everything on an in-house server isn’t necessary anymore. Cloud IT solutions allow you to store that information elsewhere so you don’t have to bear the burden of the servers. Another benefit of cloud storage is that you can access things on the move a lot more quickly.

Outsourcing

You can easily cut the amount of people that you have in the office by outsourcing certain departments. When you are looking to outsource, identify which areas of the business you are weakest in, having an expert handle it for you will yield better results. It could end up costing you more than employing people yourself, but that cost will be offset by the savings that you’ll make by moving to a smaller office.

Remote Workers

More people are working remotely from home these days. Look at your staff and ask yourself which of them really need to be in the office all day. Those that don’t can be moved into their home and work from there, they will still be able to pop into the office if needs be, but you don’t need a designated area for them to work in.

Flexible Work Spaces

Certain spaces in the office, like meeting rooms, won’t be in use all of the time. These can be turned into more versatile spaces that cater for multiple situations. That way, instead of having two or three rooms, you’ll just need one. Foldable furniture is one simple way of doing this, it can be easily moved out or rearranged for various layouts. Flexible spaces also make for a more inspiring office because employees have more freedom over how they work.

Layout

Most office layouts are fairly typical, but they aren’t always the most practical. You need to be designing a layout based on the shape of the room and the space that you already have. Choose desks that have enough space for employees to work without any surplus. When you’ve got a lot of desks in one room, that bit of extra space will add up.

If you use these simple tricks, you should be able to fit your workforce into a much smaller space and make considerable savings.

Outsourcing: A Genuine Path to Success in Business

There’s a fairly pervasive attitude among a lot of business owners that they should be able to do everything themselves without ever leaning on anyone else. A lot of this comes from the idea of the “self-made man” or any other ideas of total and complete independence.

Of course, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that this attitude is pretty much completely useless. The idea of trying to do everything yourself might be rather romantic, but it almost ends badly as Romeo and Juliet’s story.

Instead of making a business that you can take total credit for, it usually creates a business that it barely held together and it pretty much doomed to fail. If you really want to succeed in business then you need to reach out to other people with one of the most effective approaches: outsourcing.

Outsourcing is one of the beneficial things for both you and your business and here are just a few reasons why.

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It frees you up to focus on other things

Everyone has certain things that they’re more interested in than others. Because of that it’s pretty much guaranteed that there are going to be parts of your business that are simply outside of your particular expertise.

By outsourcing those things to other people, you’re able to focus all of your energy on the aspects of your business that you’re really good at. If you’re fantastic with numbers but connecting with customers isn’t your forte, then outsourcing your marketing might be the best bet.

If it’s the other way around then bringing in a forensic accountant to handle the numbers side of your business might be a better idea. Think about where there are gaps in your skills when considering what to outsource and what to deal with yourself.   

Your business is in the hands of the experts

One of the best things about outsourcing certain tasks is that it usually involves companies or individuals who are specifically skilled in certain areas.

That way you can be sure that any aspect of your business that you’re outsourcing is in the hands of well-trained and highly competent people who are going to be able to bring the best possible work to your business as a whole.

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You’re far less likely to become overworked

Overworking yourself can be dangerous at the best of times. It can leave you exhausted, unfocused, and it can have a seriously negative impact on your health. Things get even worse when you’re running a business since so many things depend on your ability to work and function.

By outsourcing certain tasks, you’re able to avoid overworking yourself so that you’re always in a position to take better care of your yourself and your business.

If you collapse from exhaustion then not only does that impact your own life negatively, but it also directly affects everyone else involved with your business.

It’s far better to put certain parts of your business in other people’s hands so that you don’t put your health or your business in danger. After all, health is wealth.

 

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Is Your Business Ready for a Factory?

Business growth is a hard thing to control. You can’t exactly stop customers from buying your products, but it’s difficult to tell whether your business is currently just a fad company or if you’re actually providing products to a growing audience. Whatever the case, your business growth needs to be taken seriously and if you aren’t preparing your workplace and assets for that growth, you could become and irrelevant business within just a short and painful week.

Preparing for a factory

A factory is one of the biggest steps a business can take when moving on from a small startup to a large corporation. First, you need to think about the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing your production as opposed to buying or building your own factory. Then you have to think about advanced machinery, tube conveyor systems to ferry goods around your factory, and even hiring a foreman to help the operation run smoothly. It goes without saying that there is a lot to think about, but there are some simple steps to help you break it down.

First, identify if your business is going through a legitimate growth or if a famous celebrity recently tweeted about your company and you’re just going experiencing a short uptick in social media engagement and popularity. If your products are being sold to a variety of customers and you’re actually providing something useful to your customers, then it’s a safe bet that you need to grow quickly. If you’re just selling your products because it’s a trend (fast fashion, for instance), then you might want to hold off on expanding to a factory.

Switching to a factory isn’t an overnight process and it’s nothing something that can be negotiated within a month, so you have plenty of time to decide if it’s worth the extra work and effort. However, if for that month or so of negotiations you’re unable to cope with orders, then it’s a good sign that you should be expanding your operations.

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Deciding between outsourcing and building your own

Let’s not take this lightly; building your own factory is extremely expensive and you’re going to need a lot of professional help in order to make it work. The only time you should seriously consider making your own factory is if you plan to diversify your products and make something new, or if you need total control over all of your production.

If you don’t need that much control or if you’re only focusing on a single product, then consider outsourcing your production instead. You’ll need to negotiate with the factory owner and you might even run into some logistical problems due to the location of the factory and how you plan to source the raw materials, but it’s a great way to get large batches of a product ready to sell.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need to monitor the production line no matter what option you chose. The last thing you want is to mass-produce your famous product, only to find that the production line has compromised quality for the sake of speed because you might lose more than just a few customers.

Transforming Your Cozy Little Furniture Business Into A Real Professional Operation

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.

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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.

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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.