One of the amazing things about our community is the DIY spirit. An entire generation of makers are finding that they can jump online, sell their work, and promote their products. And it’s opened up a lot of doors.
But that same DIY spirit may now be impeding the growth of your business.
If you’re maxed out on time but want to see your business grow, it’s time to considering outsourcing. Now, I know outsourcing has been a contentious issue here on Crafting an MBA. But I’m not just talking about outsourcing production. There are plenty of other aspects of your business you can outsource in order to help your business grow. Here are a few to consider:
- Graphic design. Whether it’s designing a new promotional postcard to creating an entire branding and visual identity strategy, the right graphic designer can help take your business to the next level. Projecting a professional image can go a long way towards making customers and press pay more attention to you and your business.
- Web design. If you aren’t comfortable with HTML, is it really worth your time to learn just to build your own website? And sure, there are plenty of templates out there you can drop your images into, but then your website will look like, well, everyone else’s. Your website is still your calling card to the world, and having a distinctive, professional looking website can do wonders for your business.
- Photography. Yes, it’s pretty easy to take shots of your newest items to sell on Etsy. But what about hiring a pro to take some fantastic images of your products in use – clothing and jewelry on models, ceramics and paintings in the home. These are images that you (or your graphic designer) can use to put together an impressive catalog, website, or other promo materials.
- Public relations. If you goal is mega magazine coverage, you might want to look into hiring a PR rep. There are many ways to keep plugging away on your own to try to get press, but a PR rep comes with an established set of contacts at magazines and major media websites. They’ll introduce your work to editors it might have taken you years to crack.
- Sales. Are you limited in the amount of time you can spend on the road? Or do you find it difficult to sell your own products? A sales rep might be a great way to help get your products into stores. As with a PR rep, they often come with an established set of contacts. Your choice in sales reps runs from independent reps to large rep groups with established showrooms, so be sure to find one that meets your needs.
- Bookkeeping and accounting. Understanding your numbers is key to generating growth, but if you aren’t good in that area, it can be worth it to bring in a little extra help. (Can’t afford a bookkeeper – check out Outright. I’ve been using it to track my business finances, and have to say I’m loving it.) I really think that any serious business should have an accountant. You don’t have the time or knowledge to know all the tax laws, and that little bit of money you save by doing it yourself might actually be costing you much more in the long run.
- Production. Outsourcing production doesn’t have to mean sending work overseas, or even having things produced by machine. Perhaps you can hire another maker to do piecework for you. It’s a great opportunity for someone whose business isn’t that far along to generate some extra income. (I hire someone to do a lot of my chain making for me.) And it can free you up to work on more complex pieces and new designs.
When you’re thinking about outsourcing, the idea is to ask yourself, is there someone who could do this better or more efficiently than I could? By outsourcing tasks you aren’t that interested in or aren’t that good at, you are freeing yourself to do the things that will really help grow your business. (Like creating new designs.)
Once you’ve made the decision to outsource, you’ll need to do your homework to find the service provider that’s a good fit for you. For things like graphic and web designers, PR reps, and accountants, ask other maker’s for their suggestions. (Most makers will hold some things, like manufacturers, pretty close to the vest.) When interviewing a potential contractor, be sure to ask for examples of their previous work and a list of other clients as references. For PR and sales reps, you’ll want to know who they currently represent so that you can see how your line fits in. And anytime you start work with a new vendor, be sure to get a contract up front that clearly outlines expectations, timelines, and fees.
If you can’t find any more hours in the day to work on your business, but you’d like to see it grow, outsourcing might just be the solution for you.