For any business, finding the ideal balance between the cost of your own time and the cost of outsourcing can be tricky. For owners and operators of small and medium-sized businesses, the broad idea of outsourcing may, at first, make them wary. Undue costs, lack of direct oversight, and the ‘we can do it ourselves’ mentality are some of the most common reasons why business owners may be hesitant to rely on remote resources. This approach is understandable, but relying on remote assistance, when done thoughtfully, will make help you grow your business while retaining core employees. Embracing the freedom that remote services provide for businesses to focus on their business will ultimately allow them to save on the most precious asset there is, time.

Outsourcing is More Common than Many Think

The term ‘outsourcing’ has gotten a bad rap. Too often it’s associated with the replacement of in-house jobs and a decline in quality of products and services. The fact is, relying on a reputable third-party source to handle certain tasks and services most often results in lower cost of business and an increase in quality. Small and medium-sized businesses who allot invaluable hours of employee time toward trying to learn processes which do not fall under their area of expertise are bound to fail. Ultimately, identifying which services you should outsource remotely (your workforce’s weaknesses) and which should be handled in-house (your workforce’s strengths) is key to increasing productivity and growing your business efficiently.

Fortunately, many businesses are alike in the tasks that they tend to outsource. No business is alone in its need to stick to the bottom line while maintaining quality while working toward operational growth. The many benefits of tapping into the well of virtual and remote services, as well as other contractors, are underscored by one theme: freedom. Freedom of resources to focus on your business’s primary goals, financial freedom provided by smart spending on outside expertise, and the freedom to leverage the domestic and global skills markets into tangible results for your own company.

Outsourceable Tasks: The Big Picture

Almost no business operates on its own. Outside contractors, remote or domestic, are commonplace among businesses small or large. Forbes takes note of this fact, adding that two broad categories of tasks lend themselves to being outsourced: 1) tasks that your business can’t do without, but which are not part of your strategic operations, such as shipping, and 2) commodity tasks such as cleaning, large-scale printing, and customer service call centers. These commodity tasks don’t warrant the hiring of full-time employees, and many businesses have already built their own strategy around providing these commodity tasks at cost.

Frequently Outsourced Tasks and Services

Regardless of the general field which a business falls under, certain daily business activities cross nearly every industry line. Take administrative tasks, for example. The skills needed to schedule business-related events, complete data entry, and type long documents are often delegated to a virtual assistant or remote service, cutting time-cost significantly. These tasks are somewhat repetitive, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t time consuming and detail-oriented, which is why outsourcing is often cheaper and more effective than hiring in-house employees to handle them. These administrative tasks that could, but shouldn’t be handled in-house are not the only type of operation that businesses tend to outsource.

Specialized tasks are a field which you would be derelict in attempting to handle in-house. Accounting services, lead generation, marketing, and IT operations are frequently contracted out, for good reason. Such operations are not only extremely time-consuming. They are critical to most business’s success, and they need to be done right by professionals who are experts in the field. Most of these tasks, when applied to a business, require significant manpower and expertise. And, while critical to your operations, these are generally not part of a business’s strategic operations and should be outsourced. Many of these tasks fall under the category of ‘expert tasks’. By outsourcing these tasks to professionals who could be considered experts in their field when possible, you are essentially gaining a top-level employees at a contractor’s cost.

Other tasks apply less universally to businesses, but where applicable are typically outsourced. Copywriting, social media marketing, and translation tend to be less universally in-demand, but can be outsourced to achieve higher quality and lower costs for businesses that need these services. The tech field continues to grow, but even the giants of industry in this field outsource certain operations. Apple, for example, designs its products and subsequently relies upon contractors to produce them at mass scale. This has precipitated a boom in competition among these contractors, illuminating how one business’s decision to delegate tasks to outside parties can stimulate the sector that specializes in a specific task. Startups and small-sized businesses in the tech sector should also consider that there are several services that should be left to the experts to provide, including but not limited to cloud hosting, cybersecurity, and infrastructure.

Value Your Time, Consider Outsourcing

Remember, the primary benefit of finding business partners to handle these tasks is not saving money. It’s saving time, which as we commonly say, can’t be valued enough. Long-term goals for many businesses are to eventually handle as many operations in-house as possible. This goal is to be applauded, but owners must understand this kind of growth takes time, and that they must assess the realities of now to get to that growth goal.  Conduct cost-time analyses for operations you are considering outsourcing, then consult business associates and relevant parties to settle on a specific contractor or service. Whether it’s for a one-time project or an ongoing service, outsourcing is likely to save you time and money, with time being the more valuable of the two.

Any small or medium sized business must embrace outsourcing, whether offshore or domestic. Services that can be handled with professionalism by virtual or remote assistants and services will most often come at a cheaper cost than handling them in-house with a full or part-time employee. You may find that local and domestic business partners can handle the outsourcing of a specific task most effectively, as is often the case with accounting services. Offshore, remote outsourcing often provides greater cost-to-quality ratios, however. Regardless of the form that s service, business, or individual you choose as a contractor takes, know that delegating these third-party tasks will put your business in the best position to expand operations, pursue your vision, and make a mark in a respective field.