Many small-business owners like to do everything themselves, particularly when they’re just starting out. There’s good reason for this: Going it alone can save time and money and assure quality control. That said, if you want to your company to grow — even if it’s based in your home — it often makes sense to outsource certain tasks so you can focus on business development.
Here are five specific duties to consider outsourcing.
- Data entry — Data entry is dull and time-consuming, and it requires little skill. Why waste your time on it? If you have a huge stack of business cards from a recent conference and don’t have time to transfer all of the names and numbers to an Excel spreadsheet, pay someone to handle the task for you. Likewise, if you need information converted from one type of online document to another, a virtual assistant should be able to tackle the project at minimal cost.
- Web production — You’ve established a blog to help grow your business’s online visibility, but formatting links, text, and photos takes far too much of your time. No problem: Hire a freelancer through an online marketplace such as Elance or Guru to convert your blog posts from basic text documents into share-worthy links.
- Social media promotion — Don’t have time to tweet and update your company’s Facebook page daily? Use outside help. Take advantage of the project-management tools offered by a service like HootSuite, which can give you the chance to approve and edit scheduled social media posts in advance of publication.
- Outreach efforts — Let’s say you’re hosting a giveaway on your website and want to promote it. Don’t spend your time sending out emails to bloggers who may or may not be interested. Instead, draft a template letter and hire someone to research relevant leads and customize the letter for each recipient. Your assistant could also reach out to sales prospects individually, but you’ll likely want to correspond with potential new customers directly once they’ve expressed interest.
- Email management — If your email inbox is filled with hundreds of new messages each day, have someone else to filter them. Your assistant can flag high-priority messages that you need to follow up on immediately; separate those related to specific projects into folders; and respond to those that don’t require your input. (Note: If you do this, make sure you use a separate, personal email account for the messages you don’t want your assistant to see.) Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, offers these tips for outsourcing your inbox, as well as an extremely comprehensive virtual assistant questionnaire.