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Management

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing: Does Outsourcing Make Sense for Your Company?

world map over person

world map over personThinking about outsourcing this year?

Did you know that in 2017, the global market size of outsourced services was worth over $88.9 billion? It’s a common practice for North American and European countries.

Why then has the industry shown such extreme fluctuation over the last six years? The industry was worth over $104.6 billion at its high. It soon dropped to 76.9 billion.

Why the unrest?

The shifting, economic currents force businesses to scrutinize the pros and cons of outsourcing. With less capital and our country’s trend toward keeping jobs at home, the decision for business owners grows more challenging each year.

Below we’ll outline the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing so that you can decide the best option for yourself. Read on.

Advantages

This section describes the many benefits you’ll receive by outsourcing. So, if you have been putting off outsourcing, these can help you rethink about it.

Rapid Scaling

To stay competitive in today’s economy, businesses must remain fluid. Scaling up when a surge of business occurs is essential to growth. Scaling down, without firing hired employees, can save your company’s reputation.

When you outsource, you have that kind of power. When you pay another company for the use of its employees, it’s like hiring a temp agency. You can hire a temporary employee or let one go on a moment’s notice without the usual hassles.

Free Technology

Let’s use an example for this one. Imagine for a moment that you outsourced your telephone answering services to alldayPA. You now have access to their workforce, three contact call centers, and $15M worth of technology.

Those are significant numbers for a small business that wouldn’t otherwise have access to that kind of tech.

Cash Flow

One of the benefits of outsourcing is your ability to set your pay scale below that of your area. You can get the work you need to be done for less money. You don’t have to pay for employee training or benefits.

This frees up cash, which is especially important for start-ups.

Frees Management

Redirect any low-value assignments away from your management. It’s a waste of resources. Those managerial positions exist to assure your company’s direction and growth.

Keep those positions operating from a ten-thousand-foot view. Focus on high-value assignments to boost your company’s revenue and maintain its trajectory.

Delivery Time

This one’s a double-edged sword. Outsourcing jobs produce rapid returns…until they don’t.

When you outsource a job, you have the convenience of temporary employees working on your project. They don’t need breaks, time off, or weekends. Jobs get done overnight.

Unfortunately, you also have no oversight. We’ll talk about this more in the “4x Rule” section.

Larger Talent Pool

Employees in small businesses often handle more than one role. An employee might not specialize in any field, but instead be a jack of all trades.

Small businesses now have access to employees with specialized skills, like those at IT outsourcing companies. Those employees specialize in areas which their team is deficient.

Disadvantages

This section describes the many drawbacks of outsourcing. You can consider them when making your decision. This is important to you pick the right company to outsource to.

Privacy and IP

Intellectual property (IP) and privacy laws exist in most first world countries. They are typically understood and respected by traditional employees.

If they’re not, you’re in a position of oversight. You can take immediate action.

Not so with outsourced, temporary employees. These strangers have access to all your intellectual property. They can do what they like without repercussions.

If you want to learn more, check out our article on intellectual property and outsourcing.

Gambling

Simply put, you never know what you’re going to get. When you measure outsourcing pros and cons, throw this at the top of the list.

You are hiring a company. That company, in turn, hires its employees. You have neither any control over who they hire nor who they task with your job.

A fantastic worker may finish a quarter of your project. A useless worker completes the other three. It’s a toss-up. We recommend avoiding inexpensive outsourcing companies for critical tasks.

Either keep those in-house or hire someone who has as much as stake in your success as you.

Labor and Environment

Labor laws and environmental standards change from country to country. If you choose to offshore (outsource out of your country), then you could face blowback.

Consider for a moment, outsourced the production of your material goods. It’s unlikely your products will meet the environmental standards of your country.

You may also be supporting unhealthy working conditions. Think sixteen-hour workdays, hazardous environments, and child sweat-shops.

4x Rule

Initial quotes from outsourcing companies often miss the mark. Nowhere is this more clear than the “projected completion date.” Missing this date is such a common occurrence that it’s become a rule.

Companies promise a quick turn around on projects. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes not.

If you depend on the project taking four times longer than projected, you’ll never be disappointed.

Lack of Control

Once you outsource a project, it’s out of your hands. You have no say in who works on the project. You cannot train the workers.

You have little say in quality control or labor distribution. The company you work with has no obligation for transparency. It’s a roll of the dice.

Public Opinion

Unions and customers typically frown upon outsourcing to another country. It means a loss of jobs for your country. Some businesses try to cover this up by becoming less transparent.

Those businesses face the noose when the public find out. (Can you say sweatshops?)

Communication

Failures are compounded by breakdowns in communication. When you consider the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing, this is another one you should weigh heavily.

When you outsource, plan for issues with time zones, response times, and language barriers. They happen regularly and can be a significant point of frustration.

Our advice? Count on them happening and plan accordingly.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Well, have you made your decision? Is outsourcing the way to go? Or is it to be avoided at all costs?

If you decided you’re on board, then it’s time to research how to get the most out of it. Please take a few minutes to read our article on how to use outsourcing for growth in your business. It’ll give you greater insight into where your new tool will benefit you best.

If you evaluated the pros and cons of outsourcing and decided against it, consider other options. Do you have other methods to increase sales or decrease costs? Adjust your reading glasses and peruse our article on ways to cut business costs in 2018.

Remember, there’s no time like the present. Choose whichever article matches your decision and dive in.

So long and good luck!

Management

4 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating in the Workplace

food

foodA healthier workforce is a more engaged and productive one. A lot of people overlook the impact eating habits can have on cognitive functions, mood, and concentration. But by making a few adjustments to your workplace and company culture, you could help your employees make healthier food choices.

Here are a few simple ways you could encourage healthy eating in the workplace.

Use Snack Services

There are plenty of snack services out there that will allow you to provide snacks to your employees for cheap. They allow you to buy various snacks in bulk so you can save on total costs. They’re also a great way to show that you actually care about your employees’ wellbeing.

However, not all of them are created equal and some might be healthier than others. While an office snack service like Naturebox will be focused mainly on providing healthy office snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and low-calorie options, others won’t have as wide a selection and will offer your usual run-of-the-mill snacks with a few “healthy” options. If you want to know more about snack services and which one would be best for you, Bevi has a great article about them. Bevi also supplies beverages for the office, including water dispensers.

Incentivize your Employees

There are plenty of ways you could make things easier for your employees and incentivize healthy eating. Some companies, for instance, will have free fruit around the office or will allow their employees to have access to mineral water. If you have vending machines, make sure that you stock them up with healthy foods as well as the usual snacks. And make sure that healthy options are much cheaper as well.

Do not Neglect Break Time

You have to institute a culture in your business where your employees feel free to enjoy a full lunch break and sufficient screen break time as well. This will encourage healthy eating habits and reduce stress as well. Make sure that they don’t eat at their desk and consider giving flexible break hours so they can get out and stretch their legs. A lunch hour should be long enough to let them go out and enjoy a healthy meal if they want to. Enjoying fresh air will also leave them invigorated for the second half of the day.

Make Sure that it’s a Clear Part of your Company Culture

If you want your employees to truly dedicate themselves to healthy eating, it has to be part of your company’s mission and put down in writing. Make sure that your commitment to healthy eating and overall health is part of the staff handbook. You should also make it clear to your staff that your mission will translate into actual policy. Let them know that healthy eating options will be subsidized or completely free of charge. Also, make sure that you consider adopting a corporate food plan if you have a cafeteria.

Conclusion

Making sure that your employees adopt healthy eating habits is not only an investment in their well-being but in your business as well. If you want to enjoy a happier and healthier workforce that will run on all cylinders, make sure to make healthy eating a must in your workplace.

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Management

How to Make Money from Home as a Freelance Writer

self publish a book

how to overcome writer's blockIf you have ever considered becoming a freelance writer your first and biggest question is probably “how do I begin making money as a freelance writer”? Knowing where and how to look for jobs is the first step in your freelance writing career.

There are plenty of ways to get paid but in this article, we give you 5 of the best methods for getting work as a beginner freelance writer.

Enter Writing Contests

Writing contests are a great option for freelance writers of any experience level because they do not differentiate between beginner writers and established professionals. Winning of these would be a great achievement for any resume and are sure to spruce up portfolios.

There are many competitions open to the public so do your research and see what opportunities are available to you. Prizes range from small cash payments to publications of your written works. Many of these competitions are free to enter so take the opportunity and submit your works today.

Job Boards

There are many ways for freelancers to make money online, you can find out more here. However, a common beginning point for freelance writers looking to get their first clients is to pitch for jobs on job boards. It is as simple as registering for an account and filling out applications or bidding on jobs. There are a ton of wiring jobs available on these boards and the clients are looking for people with a base level writing ability and a strong work ethic.

Start a Blog

Every writer needs a blog and these days bloggers are monetizing their blog through affiliate marketing. Running a blog can benefit you as a writer in many ways including contributing to your portfolio, creating lead generation, build up your credibility and give you confidence as a writer. Your blog will help you develop your style and target audience. The goal to successfully monetizing your blog is to pick a successful niche and developing a strong social media presence.

Guest Post

As a writer you should be following and supporting other bloggers and their sites. Consider pitching a guest post to your favorite authors. Most blogs accept guest posts and a lot of them are willing to pay for quality content from their guests. Before you send your pitch make sure you take the time to research the blog extensively. What is the style of writing? What is the niche? Develop a pitch that fits in nicely with site you are hoping to guest post for.

Self-Publish your Own Books

Amazon Direct Publishing has made it easy for writers of all experience levels to self-publish paperbacks and ebooks. The best part is that it is free to publish through KDP. Al you have to do is upload your book and wait for people to start purchasing it. Write about your book in your blog and post it all over your social media accounts to help gain some traffic and awareness. With KDP you can earn up to 70% in royalties, keep control of the rights, set your own prices and make changes to the book at any time.

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Management

4 Tools That Will Help You Keep Focus in Meetings

stress ball

stress ball

Keeping everybody focused on any kind of meeting can be quite a challenge. People are easily distracted and they get bored, especially in long meetings that drone on. However, there are some tools that can help keep focus during a meeting.

Did you know that whiteboards are a critical part of meetings nowadays? It’s one of the focus tools we will look at today.

Visuals

One big help when it comes to the meeting is anything visual. There is a reason why people use tools like PowerPoint, graphs, images, and other types of visuals in meetings – because they help keep focus much better than words alone.

Have you ever been in a meeting, or maybe listening to a school presentation, where a person drones on? It can get boring if a person relies solely on words to get a point across. It can become boring and hard to focus on.

However, when you add snazzy visuals and colorful graphs into the mix, it helps to catch the eyes of those watching and listening. It also helps provide a minor break from word-only presentations that are hard to focus on.

Visuals always help with presentations, not to mention that they are great for getting across points and hammering them home, points out that words alone have trouble getting across.

Recording Device

One of the tools that can be used to help keep focus in meetings is a recording device of sorts. This could be anything; as long as it allows you to record a meeting, it should work fine. This could be an old-school tape recorder, a phone, tablet, or anything else that can record voice.

The point here is that during meetings, people often try and jot down notes and write down what the speaker is saying.

However, this actually distracts from the task at hand, because when people are writing notes, they are n’t listening or taking in additional information. It is actually pretty hard to take a new point in when you are also writing the last point down.

Therefore, a recording device to record all things said in a meeting can come in handy.

Instead of having people write down notes and lightning speed and not absorb information; people can actually listen to what is being said. Then, instead of referring to notes for reference, they can simply listen to the recording.

Stress Ball

This might seem like an odd tool when it comes to helping people keep focus in meetings, but it does work. Some people probably wouldn’t qualify stress balls as being tools, but in reality, they are.

Stress balls are those little softballs which people have in their hands and squeeze to relieve stress. They might be stress relief tools, but this is exactly why they can help people focus.

People don’t listen well when they are stressed out, and a stress ball helps to combat this. Furthermore, many people have to be doing something with their hands, which is why they invented those fidget spinners that were a big deal last year. It’s hard to focus on a meeting when you are constantly looking for something for your hands to do.

A stress ball in your hands can solve both of these problems quite adequately. Make sure you don’t get a noisy one, or else everybody else in the meeting room will not be happy with you.

Whiteboard

When it comes down to it, one of the most useful tools to help keep people focused during a meeting is undoubtedly the whiteboard. This has to do with our first point – that visuals help to keep attention.

Whiteboards are pretty big, they have great contrast between the surface and the colored markers, and they allow for great organization.

Whoever is leading the meeting can use various colors of markers to jot down the most important ideas, which are easy for everybody to see.

Whiteboards are also highly portable, so they can be moved from one meeting room to another. If you did not already know, whiteboards are becoming a staple of every meeting room and classroom out there today.

Conclusion

These 4 items or tools that we have discussed here today are fantastic for helping you and others keep their focus during meetings. It can be hard to keep focus, especially in a long meeting and in a room full of people. Hopefully, you can put these items to good use to increase focus and productivity.

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