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When you’re bootstrapping your startup, it can be tempting to try to do everything yourself in an attempt to save money. After all, when you don’t have VC backing on your side, you have to stretch every dollar!
However, a do-it-all mentality could ultimately backfire in the long run. If you want to make the most of your financial resources and achieve the growth that will take your startup to the next level, you’re going to have to outsource.
No matter what industry you’re working in, each startup will have essential, time-consuming tasks that can easily take your attention away from the big-picture issues that affect your company’s long-term health. Ignoring these “everyday” tasks will limit your growth — but so will spending too much of your own time on them.
The solution, of course, is strategically outsourcing tasks.
1. Accounting and bookkeeping
Knowing how your money is being spent and where your revenue is coming from is vital for any bootstrapped business — but crunching the numbers is far more complicated than you might think. This is one area where even a seemingly tiny error could have big ramifications for your business.
It’s generally recommended that you outsource this work to bookkeepers, who accurately record all financial information associated with your business, as well as accountants, who use this information to prepare tax documents and profit and loss statements. Making use of both will take a lot of responsibilities off your plate, eliminating a major stressor for startup founders.
Yahoo Small Business estimates that outsourcing these tasks can reduce monthly bookkeeping costs by 40 percent. Even more importantly, you don’t run the risk of making an error that gets you into tax trouble or puts your cash flow in jeopardy.
2. Marketing — all of it
Love it or hate it, marketing is an absolute necessity for any startup. The sheer scope of what digital marketing now entails can be overwhelming. There’s your website, your social media channels, content marketing, SEO and more to consider. All of these tasks must work in unison to grow your brand.
Adequately managing these diverse responsibilities requires a full-fledged marketing team, something the average bootstrapped startup simply can’t afford. Even more importantly, however, outsourcing your marketing gets you a team that knows how to create effective content and analyze its effectiveness.
This approach also provides much-needed flexibility. As Matthew Creswick writes for HubSpot, “Rather than paying an in-house blogger to write full-time for your brand, you might consider hiring a freelancer to write […] two posts per week, which is undeniably cheaper than the alternative. As your company grows, you can reassess whether it makes sense to pay a writer full-time.”
3. IT and other necessary tech
These days, startups don’t just outsource to living, breathing humans. Automation has taken over a wide range of mundane business tasks, eliminating much of the busywork associated with running your own company. Then, of course, there is the transition from paper to digital record keeping.
In fact, a 2018 report from IDG revealed that 89 percent of companies had either already adopted a “digital-first” strategy for their business or had plans to do so shortly. This mix of automation, cloud storage and other tech advances can make companies far more efficient — but they also present new challenges.
As Kie Liang, founder of Desert I.T. Solutions, explained to me in a recent email conversation, “If you aren’t careful, your digital infrastructure can become just as complex and hard to manage as a paper filing system. Then, of course, there’s the matter of securing these digital assets. Whether it’s a hard drive crash or a hacking attempt, you can’t afford to lose everything because of poor digital security. Outsourcing can take care of data backups, security and other tech issues you might face.”
4. Customer support
Few things are more satisfying than seeing your bootstrapped startup begin making its first sales. As your customer base grows, however, so too will your need for strong customer support.
Research from PwC reveals that 73 percent of consumers feel that a positive customer experience is central to their decision to become loyal to a brand. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an Oracle survey found that 77 percent of customers felt that inefficient service detracted from their quality of life.
To achieve lasting success, your business must be able to offer superior service at each stage of the customer journey. Whether they are inquiring about your products or submitting a complaint, their experience will influence if they do business with you again in the future.
Outsourcing this work to someone who knows how to handle these issues (and keep their cool when dealing with an irate customer) is vital for creating consistently positive interactions.
It’s time to outsource your way to success
Outsourcing can be a little scary when bootstrapping your own business — after all, it costs money and involves you giving up some measure of control over these tasks.
However, look at it from the big picture. In the long run, outsourcing will help you grow your startup faster, while also costing less than hiring a full-time employee to do the work. You’ll have the support you need to scale and turn a greater profit while you do so.