Derek Gallimore is a contributor to Forbes.com and a member of the Forbes Business Council. This article was first published on Forbes.
When people think of outsourcing, they often think of cutting costs. But there is much more to outsourcing. Outsourcing is a big umbrella term for “employment solutions” and includes concepts as broad as offshore staffing, remote work, call centers and virtual assistants.
Outsourcing can be a powerful tool for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and it shouldn’t just be written off as a cost-saving measure. In fact, offshore staffing can transform a business and is among the most potent business tools out there in my experience. Outsourcing is used by many of the world’s big businesses, yet SMBs are often slower to catch on.
The real benefits of outsourcing are commonly overlooked, and that may be one reason why SMBs are slow to adopt this tool. Here are some benefits of offshore staffing and how SMBs can harness these benefits to help propel their businesses to the next level.
1. Triple your workforce.
Don’t think of outsourcing as just saving money. Instead, view it as an opportunity to triple the size of your workforce, for a similar price as your local workforce.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what you could do with your business if you could afford to triple the staff that you currently have. What new sales or marketing tactics would you try? Imagine how you could impress your clients or improve your product if you tripled your team.
Alas, we are all constricted by time, money and resources. However, with offshore staffing, you may be able to triple your workforce, which could enable you to potentially out-grow, out-maneuver and out-compete other companies in your market.
2. Access talented, dedicated professionals.
Why limit your job search to your local town, city or country when there is an entire world out there of highly qualified and highly capable people? Offshore staffing means you can access employees globally — so now you have billions of potential job candidates.
Additionally, most small and medium-sized businesses can’t afford the price tags for the $1 million CEO. And the best-of-the-best local candidates may be hoping for that job at a huge company and aren’t necessarily eager to work for the small, local company.
Hiring offshore candidates can enable you to punch above your weight and to hire the top candidate in another market. You may be able to afford to pay the top salaries in another country because you have more spending power. Plus, for the candidates, there’s often a certain allure to working for a foreign company and potentially working directly with the foreign CEO, founder or department heads.
Also, let’s face it, there are many jobs in the West where people fall into their roles and they’re keen to leave them whenever they can. On the other hand, there are many people across the world who build their careers in outsourcing. Climbing the ladder as a customer service agent or admin assistant is their career, passion and purpose.
3. Provide around-the-clock service.
Some businesses need to provide their services 24/7, like hotels and fintech companies. Other businesses might be able to benefit from a 24/7 offering but just can’t afford it. Imagine the extra sales you could make or the existing customers you could please if your company had 24/7 uptime.
Generally, 24/7 is cost-prohibitive in most counties. However, with offshore staffing, you can easily build 24/7 teams. In fact, because of the time zone differences, having 24/7 teams in other countries is very normalized. With offshore teams, you also have the option to work the different time zones to your advantage with “follow the sun” 24/7 shift coverage.
4. Gain a competitive and strategic advantage.
Simply put, offshore staffing offers a competitive advantage to your business — both strategically and operationally. As the late prime minister and founding father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew put it, “If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you’re putting yourself out of business.”
When considering whether outsourcing is the right decision for your business, it’s important to ask the right questions about your processes and resources. Are you ready to hire more employees to scale your business? Have you identified the specific roles you need to fulfill particular focused functions? Do you have the time required to onboard new employees effectively? Do you already have the necessary processes in place, or will you build these as you go?
Be aware of your main motivations when it comes to outsourcing. Offshore staffing can be used to either optimize and streamline existing, proven processes that you already have in place, or it can alternatively be used to explore, test and build new processes. But these are two different aspects of building a business, and it’s important to have clarity on which need your team will be focusing on.
Once you’ve identified your goals, getting started with outsourcing is easier than you may think, and you don’t have to over-plan or over-prepare for it. A great first step is to jump on a call with two or three reputable outsourcing firms. From your call, you should feel that they understood your business and staffing needs and are able to strategically contribute to advancing your company’s goals.
It’s important to understand that outsourcing is not a magic solution for the complexities of building a business. Offshoring does not mean that you can outsource your problems and have them magically resolved for you. If you are struggling to build a successful sales process for your business, it is highly unlikely that an outsourcing firm will succeed. They primarily provide the staff and optimize the processes — but they can’t pull a rabbit from a hat.
Outsourcing can be like a secret weapon for your business. You can save on your staffing costs, but it also has many other benefits that are commonly overlooked. It takes time to learn the nuances of managing a successful team, but the benefits can be profound.