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Outsourcing may sound like a dirty word to some. But the reality for small businesses is that many tasks, including legal ones, can be effectively handled by someone outside of an employer's direct supervision.
Small business outsourcing can potentially help you save time and money. Of course, there are some legal issues you'll want to keep in mind as well.
Here are 10 tasks that a small business owner may want to consider outsourcing:
- Payroll. There is no need to saddle yourself with the hassle of keeping up with your employees' withholdings, Social Security, and changes in state and federal tax law. Still, you'll want to make sure your employees' personal information is securely transmitted and stored.
- Social media activities. Unless you have a company large enough to justify a full-time social media position, your presence on Facebook or Twitter can be easily handled by an independent contractor. Just make sure your contractor complies with FTC guidelines.
- Web design. There are literally thousands of Web designers on the market begging for contract work; for a decent price, your website could go from shabby to snappy.
- Marketing. Business schools exist to pump out marketing consultants, find one and make her put her MBA to use.
- Bookkeeping. Having your financial records in order can either make or break your small business, so it may not be wise to burden an essential employee with this important responsibility.
- Accounting. Not to be confused with bookkeeping, you don't necessarily need a full-time CFO-level employee to audit and analyze your bookkeeping data. Outsourcing it three to four times a year may you get the same results.
- App development. Want your business to have its own mobile app? Farm it out to a programmer or company that knows how, rather than killing time learning how to program in Cocoa. But you'll still want to make sure your app complies with the law.
- Administrative support. Maybe one day your business can afford a full-time administrative staff position, but until then you can hire "virtual" administrators to handle your schedule, phone calls, and calendar for much less.
- Online security. Small businesses have enough trouble maintaining Internet security without you trying to test your employees on your own time. Security firms can very easily provide necessary cyber-security solutions for a reasonable fee.
- Legal review. If you're not already using a prepaid legal plan like those offered by LegalStreet to have your business' contracts reviewed, you may consider outsourcing your legal needs to a consulting attorney.
Tips for Finding Good Outsourcers
For any of the tasks above, try to focus on finding an outsourced provider who will accomplish a specific task or set of tasks, and keep in mind that your needs will change over time.
If you're having trouble actually locating a contractor, services like oDesk, BidModo, and eLance have been created as "virtual marketplaces" where business owners and contractors can connect, reports Entrepreneur magazine.
Also consider consulting with an attorney who is well-versed in dealing with outsourcing contracts, one who can help you navigate the waters of outsourcing agreements without sinking your business.
(Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)
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