Getting your start-up business up and running presents a multitude of challenges. For starters, there is an overabundance of competition, both from existing companies and other start-ups in the same field. On top of that, no matter how much of a independent, “do-it-yourself” attitude you have at the onset, we all know that the time will come when you can’t manage it all on your own. And, it’s not always easy to find the talent that you need to manage everything in-house. Many of the people with the skills you’re in need of may already be employed by one of your competitors, or may command higher compensation than your bootstrapped start-up is budgeted for. So, for these reasons, among others, outsourcing has become an attractive solution, and one that you should consider for your start-up.
Outsourcing: It’s Not A Dirty Word.
I feel like I have to pause for a moment, before going further into this topic, to clarify something which many folks seem to be a bit confused about. Outsourcing has gotten a terrible rap in the media, and in the country in general, because of all of the jobs that have been “outsourced” overseas, and the impact that has had on the economy. We don’t need to digress here into a long discussion of politics and economics. But please understand that the concern there is really about “offshoring”, the practice of sending some part of your company’s operations overseas, to take advantage of cheaper labor or less stringent regulatory requirements.
So what is outsourcing, then, really?
Outsourcing is becoming a fairly standard business practice. It really refers to the simple activity of delegating part of your business processes to an external third party. It’s becoming more and more of an accepted practice in today’s business world to outsource any of your processes, other than those that directly relate to generating new business, or improve your customer service or relationships.
What processes should we outsource?
The general rule that we keep hearing, and which I alluded to above, is that it makes sense to outsource anything that’s not in your company’s “core competencies”. Here’s an example that might make this a little clearer. If, for instance, you’re running an ice cream shop, creating and running a well-developed IT department is not really a part of your business plan. You’ll need some IT services to run a modern business, for sure, but look at things from a customer’s point of view. No one is going to make a decision to choose your ice cream because you have a great backup and recovery system in place, or because you have an expert C++ programmer on staff. Even the best IT department is not going to make your shop stand out in the crowd of other dessert places. You need to be concerned about the people who make and serve ice cream, and the people who buy and eat it. Everything else, ranging from technical work to cleaning services, can be outsourced.
The general approach is to remove from your already overtaxed start-up staff any work that could just as easily be done, often times even better, by an outside agency. So, when we start to talk about online marketing, the answer should be obvious. Unless you’re running a digital marketing agency, like we are here at Rhino, you should be outsourcing that work to experts who specialize in that type of effort.
Benefits of Outsourcing.
Outsourcing, at least in this context that we’re discussing, as it relates to non-core business activities, offers a number of benefits, especially to a growing start-up. It should result in reduced labor costs, improvements of quality, and more. Let’s look at some of the specifics.
Reducing costs is perhaps the strongest reason that motivates businesses to outsource work. While you don’t want to settle for a cheap, bargain solution, you don’t need to overpay for anything, especially as a start-up. Outsourcing generally allows significant cost savings, without allowing quality of work to suffer (in fact, it will often improve!). Consider the cost of hiring an in-house marketing person or two. Needless to say, you’ll be taking on their salaries. But there will also be a long list of additional costs, including healthcare benefits, paid time off, computer software and hardware, office space, and more, intangible expenses. Factoring in all of this, it’s likely that you can get the services of an entire marketing department for less than the cost of hiring even one qualified in-house employee.
Outsourcing Frees Up Your Time And Resources.
As a start-up, your efforts have to be centered around refining and polishing up your offerings and getting them to the marketplace. For that to happen, you need to stay focused on your goals. You also need a core of quality people around who remain equally focused. If you, or any of your inner circle (which may be the entire staff in these formative days) have to be involved in any of those “non-core” activities, including your online marketing, it’s going to present a formidable distraction from achieving your aims. Rather than force yourself and your key players to juggle more responsibilities than you can manage, outsource your marketing efforts to an agency, and leave your internal resources free for more vital tasks, which no one else can do as well.
It’s a scalable solution.
One of the real drawbacks with managing your online marketing campaigns in-house is that you won’t likely have a constant and consistent level of work for your employees. When you’re in the midst of a big campaign or a major website upgrade, you’re probably going to wish you had more staff to work on the projects. But there may be other times at which there’s much less work, and at those times you’ll still have to carry the salaries and all the other expenses we talked about earlier for those employees, or else make the painful decision to lay them off, and start the process over again. Why not simply outsource the marketing work to an agency who will take responsibility for deploying the proper levels of staffing, expanding and contracting as your needs do the same.
Still not convinced whether an outsourced online marketing solution is right for your startup? Give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to set up a consultation to explore the ways that the pros at Rhino can help you kick your marketing efforts into high gear.