The positives and negatives of outsourcing work for SMEs

In challenging economic times small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have to look at costs and reduce overheads in virtually every area possible. One of the first things that small businesses look at in order to free up time and resource is to outsource work in order to focus on other aspects of their organisation.

Outsourcing of work can have a hugely positive impact on the output and growth of an organisation.

However the decision to outsource important work to freelancers and professionals across the country and overseas should not be made lightly. It is important to outsource work for the right reasons rather than employing someone in-house to complete the task.

There may be times in business in order to progress that you will take on projects that you just don’t have the necessary skills to do so. Outsourcing enables SMEs to improve their specialised skill sets via third parties, to improve their reputation and get the job done quicker.

Here are some of the many other pros and cons of outsourcing work that businesses must consider to determine whether it is the right option for your organisation.

Pros:

  •  Increased speed and quality of delivery – If your business is willing to take on work in areas which you don’t particularly specialise then outsourcing work can significantly enhance the speed and quality of completed work. Not only will you be able to complete work on time and within budget, you will be able to focus your energies on other pressing projects better suited to your expertise.
  • Free up office space – Space is precious in commercial properties and by outsourcing work within a particular department you can minimise the number of workstations and employees required, with the ability to communicate and work with third parties online with minimal fuss.
  • Ideal for business start-ups – In the infancy of any business outsourcing work proves significantly cheaper than hiring full-time staff with the same level of support. However, as businesses grow it is prudent to re-evaluate the outsourcing of particular tasks as it may prove more beneficial to employ a full-time employee to work in-house and adapt to your growing and changing needs.

Cons:

  •  Concerns over quality control – Many small businesses are frightened to work with third parties as they lose the ability to manage projects in-house. This can have a significant impact on quality control, particularly if you make a poor choice of freelancer to complete a specific project.
  • Communication frustrations – If you choose to outsource a task overseas there is always the risk of work demands getting lost in translation. This can lead to hold ups in work which may result in frustration from clients and potentially the end of lucrative working relationships.
  • Difficulties selecting appropriate vendors – SMEs inexperienced with the process of selecting a freelancer or professional for outsourced work may find it hard to decipher reliable proposals from the downright shady.

Unfortunately outsourcing work is not an exact science, but with a little common sense and research you can work successfully with third parties with the necessary knowledge and work ethic.

The benefits of remote working for SMEs over winter

In order to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) continue to operate in severe weather conditions over winter, industry experts now advise small firms to consider implementing flexible remote working systems, allowing employees to work from home.

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Remote working has grown to become an important element of business productivity for SMEs.

With the current technology available, firms now needn’t suspend their business in severe weather, with a combination of remote technologies and common sense allowing SMEs to continue trading.

Remote working can maintain productivity and reduce office costs over the winter months. Studies have found in the past that employees working away from the distractions of their desk and the surrounding office environment increased their productivity by a considerable margin.

What exactly is remote working?

Put simply, remote working is when people do their work at home or outside the workplace. With the current financial climate tighter than ever, businesses are always looking to bring down their running costs and remote working is one way of achieving this goal.

In many industries Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are created to enable employees to login to a company network and access all the information they need to carry out their work, whether it is word documents, emails or project briefs. Remote working also enables businesses to employ and outsource work to people all over the world.

There are many other advantages of remote working for both small business owners and employees alike:

Advantages of remote working for SME owners

  • Fewer office costs – with staff able to use remote and cloud computing to access emails, files and any other necessary information, SMEs can cut costs such as printing, electricity and any other staff management charges.
  • Increased productivity and results – Instead of having to down tools and stop work on client projects, owners can allow staff to carry on their work from home. This is also an excellent employee incentive as staff can save money on travel to and from the office or studio.
  • Greener working – remote working can dramatically reduce a businesses’ impact on the environment by reducing the number of employees that commute to the office or studio.

Advantages of remote working for employees

  • Enhanced work-life balance – employees that are allowed to work remotely in severe weather naturally have an improved work-life balance, with the ability to spend more time with children and spouses.
  • Reduced stress levels – taking your employees away from the cut and thrust of the office environment can reduce stress levels. Remote working in more comfortable, homely surroundings can foster greater productivity.
  • Increased trust and responsibility – While SME owners must choose the right people to work remotely, those fortunate enough to be able to work from home will have their morale boosted by the extra trust and responsibility placed upon them by their employer.

The key challenge for SMEs is to ensure employees are disciplined enough to handle the freedom of remote working. Today an increasing number of small business owners appreciate the benefits working from home can bring to their company.

Business networking in the 21st century

Business networking in the 21st century remains a critical component of building and maintaining contacts with like-minded entrepreneurs and existing and potential clients.

Business Networking in the 21st Century

Networking in today's world can be a very different prospect to yester year. Technology has created a whole host of new platforms with which businesses can network effectively.

The internet and social media has made it easier than ever to communicate with people from relevant organisations and networks and share knowledge, attract new clients and recruit new employees.

The combination of new social media tricks of the trade with the traditional means of liaising with useful resources and forging new working relationships means business networking is multi-faceted in the 21st century.

Make use of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is arguably the largest business-related social networking site on the internet and consequently is a great platform to build and manage your professional identity. LinkedIn has over 10,000 groups that you can join and participate in discussions and debates whilst connecting with corporate blogs in an effort to engage with your professional network.

Shout about your expertise

Don’t be afraid to display your expertise to potential clients and fellow professionals. Use social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to build a virtual contacts book and offer regular snippets of advice that add value to your followers’ day-to-day working lives. If you’ve got something more in-depth to say why not consider writing a personal blog that can be a great way of building contacts and trust in an informal manner.

Encourage word of mouth

One of the main benefits of social media networks is that they encourage effective word of mouth marketing for products and services. If the response is positive and it goes viral it can be a major coup for emerging businesses. Similarly, it can be a very damaging experience if businesses receive negative feedback. However, in the main it is great for brand exposure and for building trust with potential clientèle.

Show your face at events

In order to become a familiar figure to like-minded entrepreneurs and potential connections it is important to engage with local business networking organisations and show your face at as many events as possible.

Death of the business card? No way!

Although you could be forgiven for thinking business cards may be somewhat defunct in their purpose with the accessibility of the internet and social media, it is still a very successful tool for attracting leads and referrals in the 21st century. A business card still makes that all-important first impression of your business to potential customers and subsequently it should be eye-catching and memorable, whilst being a treasure trove of contact information without being mundane.

Be selective with new contacts

It is highly likely you will meet a multitude of names and faces when business networking in the 21st century. However, the likelihood of staying in contact with all your new connections is very slim. Consequently you should aim to be selective with the contacts you touch base with on a regular basis – ideally entrepreneurs and businesses that can offer you something extra.

Business networking remains a crucial skill for successful entrepreneurs and effective networking will certainly add an extra dimension to your businesses’ growth potential.

5 tips to help you recruit the right people online

Using the internet to recruit new employees for business has become the norm in a very short space of time. For people working in creative industries the internet is an indispensable tool and subsequently online recruitment appears a natural step in order to reach out to target markets.

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The internet has quickly become essential at recruiting the right people for your business.

Recruiting on the internet gives companies and candidates alike a great opportunity to secure the ideal employees and find themselves an exciting new job. Here are five tips to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access and recruit top talent for their organisations.

Use social networking sites such as LinkedIn

Career-focused networking sites such as LinkedIn are a goldmine of information for growing small businesses. It is a great way of viewing profiles of successful employees and entrepreneurs and engaging in discussion regarding their availability and/or interest in your vacant roles.

Many candidates choose to make their LinkedIn profile public, meaning they are indexed by search engines and can therefore be found in Google when searching for a particular type of candidate.

Extend your recruitment reach via job boards and online agencies

Don’t be afraid to submit your vacant positions across a number of online recruitment agencies and job boards. Instead of simply placing an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper, extend your reach online with the potential of millions of views rather than thousands a month offline.

A vast percentage of employers use the internet daily, almost exclusively and the ability to have your vacant positions online within literally minutes improves the efficiency of your recruitment campaign.

Reduce cost-per-hire and retain flexibility

One of the biggest challenges facing HR managers is to reduce the cost-per-hire within their company whilst at the same time maintaining the quality of new talent. It is said that companies who use online recruitment technologies save up to 90% more than those who use traditional recruitment agencies and methods. Online recruitment enables recruiters to streamline recruitment campaigns, whilst promoting the company’s brand and values to a wider, more diverse talent pool.

Recruit using your own company website

Depending on how your company website is built you may be able to advertise careers and vacancies through your own content management system (CMS). Your company website should explicitly portray the vision and values of your company and is one of the most underrated ways to advertise for new talent. Remember, your own website is your time to shine to new recruits as well as new clients.

Use Facebook to develop your professional identity

Facebook is increasingly used as an online recruitment tool, with platforms and solutions for small businesses recruiting via Facebook. Workplace groups, advertisements and profiles can be created to generate discussion about your company as well as encourage applications for vacant roles.

Now is the time to embrace online recruitment and social networking both as a research tool and as a cost-effective way of connecting users and potential employees to add value to your business.