Kamis, 13 Desember 2007

Use Outsourcing Trends to Expand Your Business

by Ruth Klein

Do what you do best and outsource the rest. Today, even solo entrepreneurs and small businesses are embracing this bit of wisdom, as outsourcing becomes more viable, thanks to the wide reach and 24-hour availability of the Internet.

It's not just domestic outsourcing that's become a trend among small and solo businesses; even offshoring is now no longer the domain of international companies. According to the research company Evaluserve, small businesses offshoring their outsourcing needs has become so common, it's attracted it's own moniker—P2P, or "person-to-person" offshoring. Writing and translation services, tutoring and software development are among the ways P2P outsourcing is being used by small businesses and solo entrepreneurs, according to Evaluserve.

1. Don't let geography stop you.

The Internet allows worldwide reach. Even virtual interns are becoming commonplace at major universities with students who are well-versed in working online ready to get the experience they need, wherever the job is located. Online resources such as www.timeanddate.com allow you to juggle time zones with ease.

2. Acclimate your team to your culture.

Let your team members know your business culture - the way you want work done, and the atmosphere in which you want it done. For example, do you encourage outside-the-box thinking as part of your business culture? Do you reward a fast turnaround on projects? What are your acceptable-versus-unacceptable boundaries for language and behavior? Give your team members time to absorb and understand your business culture.

3. Think outside the box.

More companies are turning to outsourcing when it comes to public relations and technology functions. However, the goal is to personalize your outsourcing needs. What don't you want to spend the time on, or lack the expertise to accomplish? To find out more about the wide variety of skills and resources available from "virtual assistants," visit the Web site of www.AssistU.com, the premier training source for Virtual Assistants. Another resource that combines business and personal tasks is www.DoMyStuff.com. At this site, you can post your task, whether it is for home office technology repairs, software upgrades, or traditional home repairs and lawn services that are threatening to take away time better spent on your business. More than 40,000 "virtual" businesses will bid on your project, based on the zip code you type in at the Web site.

4. Do your homework.

Before you outsource, create a list of specific skills and valuable attributes, and then cast a wide net to allow you to go deep into your applicant pool to find the best person for you. Check references closely. Start small before contracting the services of an outsourced team member for a larger project. Gradually build up to big projects to allow you to make a quick change along the way if necessary.

5. Protect your intellectual assets.

Outsourcing work can open the door to allowing outsiders to see or use proprietary information. Guard your valuable resources by consulting with an outside attorney who specializes in intellectual assets to take adequate steps to ensure the security of your assets.

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