4 cod-liver oil capsules for a growing business

How outsourcing key tasks can provide the flexibility required to accelerate your business’ growth

Oh the irony. One of the major factors in a start-up’s success is often the first thing they lose when they grow: flexibility.

Nimbleness, agility, adaptability, call it what you will; it’s the thing that allows you to do what needs to be done – fast.

Flexibility helps you stay ahead, make quick decisions, bust some nifty moves before your sluggish competitors have even got out of bed.

Just like bodies, supple businesses go further, move faster, jump higher, perform better and avoid injury. But the more you grow, the more people you recruit, the more your flexibility declines.

So, how can you expand your business while maintaining your start-up sprightliness? The best way is to use a hybrid approach to resourcing: supplement your core team with flexible freelance resources for the right tasks at the right time.

1. For managing demand

At times of high demand or for labour-intensive projects such as telemarketing or data entry, you can take on extra resources for a fixed and finite period. Reassuringly, when you have a tight month, you can try to do everything in-house to save money. Using freelancers frees up opportunity costs in your business: if a project is tying up a lot of your time, you’re losing out on work you could be bringing in.

2. When you need it finished fast

If you need to make a crazy deadline or urgently invoice a job to bring in some cash, outsourcing allows you to create another work stream and double your production rate. If there is paying work that only you and your team can do, outsourcing can make sure you deliver on all your commitments – on time – while keep building your business’ reputation for reliability.

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3. For one-off projects

Smart businesses are brutally honest about what they’re good at and when it’s time to bring in a third party. Some skills are so specialist there’s no point acquiring them in-house. When you hire a full-time employee it makes sense to hire a generalist who can adapt with you as the business changes. If you find a freelancer however, you can hone in on a niche skill set without worrying about whether you will still need that skill in six months’ time.

Tasks like SEO or Android app development are ideal for outsourcing because they require expertise and knowledge to be bang up to date. The best online freelance portals allow you to search their ranks of professionals by specific programming language, software package or skillset.

4. The right person at the right time

One of the major advantages of using online freelancers in that you can tap into talent that isn’t available in your town or city – or even in your country. Some skill sets (for example iOS for iPhone and iPad apps) are in very short supply. Rather than wait six months to find the perfect permanent hire, you can find an online freelancer to get a project off the ground in a fraction of the time. In fact, 72% of oDesk clients say that have saved over 50% of the time it takes to hire.

Hayley Conick is Country Manager for oDesk in the UK



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