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As an online entrepreneur, you’ll have a lot on your plate. Depending on what type of business you run, you might be thinking about a hundred different things at once, from supply chain management to customer service strategy to inventory – basically, all of the key components that make up an online business.
With so much to handle, and 90% of startups failing in their first 120 days, it’s crucial that you’re using your time strategically to maximize your chances of success. However, whilst you’re concentrating on the day-to-day running of your business, you also need to be building your brand.
You can’t do everything yourself, and if you are a digital nomad (or just running your business on a shoestring budget) then employing full-time staff to take on the extra tasks won’t be practical either.
The solution? Business process outsourcing — BPO. Building your brand with help from outside professionals can offer increased efficiency and economy of scale. Once you’ve found people with the right skills to handle them, here are seven tasks you should outsource to help you build your brand:
Website design and branding
Your website typically provides the first impression someone will have of your company, so it needs to look good and be easy and intuitive to use. If you’ve ever tried designing your own website, even using a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy for the layman, you’ll know that it’s a hugely time consuming — and often frustrating — process.
Just the task of designing a logo can be taxing, and take up valuable working hours that would be better spent concentrating on your core business. Outsourcing your web design and branding will ensure that your website looks professional, is easy for customers to navigate, and encourages visitors to return.
In fact, many entrepreneurs today opt to outsource everything about their fundamental business model by purchasing existing businesses (often pre-built ecommerce sites). If there happens to be an online business for sale that suits you, it might be an option worth considering — otherwise, do the basics yourself and outsource the trickier setup elements.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Once you have invested in a high-quality website, people need to be able to find it, which is where search engine optimization comes in. Put simply, SEO helps your website rank higher in search results, earning it more clicks.
However, SEO is a complex science that is constantly evolving, and keeping up with these changes is a full time job that you can’t afford to neglect. Outsourcing to an expert frees you up from having to learn about SEO in the first place and then from having to use up precious time actually putting it place.
Social media is now a key component of most businesses’ marketing strategies, and with good reason: research has found that 74% of shoppers rely on social media to guide their purchase decisions, meaning that people who get to know your brand on social media are more likely to think of you when they’re ready to buy. If you aren’t using social media properly, you could lose a huge amount of revenue.
You will need to take ownership of your social media channels so you can follow up on queries, complaints and conversations in real time — but you should consider outsourcing your overall social media strategy to an expert. Social media is constantly changing, and you need someone who can give your social media presence the time and attention it needs to build a strong and recognizable brand.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. Research has shown that companies that blog generate 55% more leads and 97% more inbound links. A good content marketing strategy has a large variety of elements, including blog posts, articles, emails, web pages and case studies, as well as visual resources such as infographics and videos.
You will need to decide which is the right combination of these to reach your goals, but whatever you decide on, it’s clear that developing these resources will take time, effort and expertise. A digital agency can create and run a content marketing strategy for you, but it might be more cost-effective to create your own strategy and outsource the content creation piece-by-piece via a freelancing platform like Upwork or Credo.
Lead generation strategy
Lead generation is the process of gaining the interest of potential customers in order to increase future sales. A popular method for smaller businesses to do this is through pay-per-click (PPC), an advertising model which displays ads when users enter relevant queries and changes by click (hence the name).
The most popular platform for this is Google Ads, but you can also utilize PPC through Facebook and Twitter. While it’s fairly easy to learn the basics of PPC, it isn’t just something you can “set and forget”: you need someone constantly monitoring the results of your campaigns and making adjustments as needed.
If you’re a small company, hiring an agency to run your PPC campaigns could be expensive, so consider outsourcing the job to a Virtual Assistant whom you can hire by the hour to look after lead generation.
Bookkeeping and payroll
Doing your own bookkeeping comes with all sorts of risks, especially if you haven’t run your own business before, and even a simple clerical error won’t be overlooked should your company end up being audited. When you have so much else on your mind, it can be easy to forget to do the fiddly little tasks like filing receipts, tracking expenses, and recording petty cash transactions, any one of which could come back to haunt you should the IRS come knocking.
Outsourcing bookkeeping and payroll to a professional will help you stay on top of your finances and, crucially, stay within the law. Outsourcing also means that your business will have access to accounting systems that are too expensive for a small business to purchase, meaning that everything will be in perfect order should the government decide to audit your company.
The average small business spends 120 working hours each year on administrative tasks: that’s fifteen working days that you could be spending on building your brand. Small, repetitive administrative tasks are necessary, but they take up a lot of time and brainpower you’d rather be using elsewhere.
Outsourcing these tasks to a virtual assistant means they can be achieved quickly and efficiently by someone who can dedicate all their attention to them. There are numerous admin tasks that can be taken off your hands (from data entry to organizing your Dropbox storage), allowing you to get on with doing the bigger jobs.
However hard you’re prepared to work, you can’t do everything on your own. Outsourcing allows you to build a team of skilled professionals without the expense of hiring full-time staff, and stops you getting distracted by jobs that can be completed without your input.
If you start outsourcing the smaller jobs and focus your time and attention on your own core competencies, you will build your brand quicker and more successfully than if you decide to go it alone.