When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Outsourcing Opportunities!

Janet Christy

The newspapers and televeision newscasts are filled with announcements and projections of layoffs, downsizing, government budget cuts and bankruptcy filings. As a Small Business you assume that means less opportunities to sell your products and services.

However, the dire financial situation can offer many chances for getting business in a save the day kind of way.

Just because companies and government agencies are laying off staff does not mean they can discontinue the functions of the lost staff. Even though there may be less money in the budget for certain activities, does not necessarily mean the activities can cease. Filing Chapter 11 brings about reorganization, which could include using outside sources for some services.

Small Businesses need to take a close look at the way they market their products and services and consider "repackaging" them so that companies and government agencies see them as replacements for lost staff or more economical methods than in-house ones.

The generic term for using an outside company to provide a service or product that could be provided internally is outsourcing. The term "outsourcing" is sometimes used to identify some other arrangements that many see as negative; an example is "cheap" off-shore labor and eliminating American jobs. However, outsourcing in this case is using Small Businesses for products and services instead of keep them in-house. In times of economic distress that force layoffs, budget cuts and bankruptcy reorganizations outsourcing can help save both the outsourcer and the outsourcee.

Another positive factor for Small Businesses is that goals/requirements are not relaxed for the use of Minority, Woman, Disadvantaged or Veteran Owned Businesses on government projects and contracts. Many Small Businesses fall in these categories.Normally changes of any kind to these goals or requirements lags way behind economic fluctuations and often does not occur at all. So, outsourcing provides the larger corporations and government agencies an avenue to meet the opportunities for Small Businesses of these types. In these situations the term used for outsourcing is typically "subcontracting."

Reasons that outsourcing may be desirable for companies and government agencies:

  • Less expensive than an employee (especially with benefits)
  • Reduced overhead (eliminate need for office space, warehousing, equipment, etc.)
  • Avoidance of expensive over-time (using reduced staff to continue functions)
  • Loss of revenue (unable to fill orders or fulfill contracts)
  • Loss of grants or additional funding (cannot satisfy requirements)

Some of the characteristics the companies and government agencies (including schools) want to see in an outsource partner are:

  • Flexibility to meet their time frames and requirements
  • Willingness to accept small projects or orders
  • Capability of matching their specifications and methods
  • Willingness to provide temporary or sporadic services/products
  • Ability to work on their site
    Not all of these will be required in every situation

To take advantage of outsourcing opportunities you must be looking for them. You should be watching news sources for announcements. You should be noticing trends of business or government types that are downsizing or struggling. When you find a business or government agency that is will to outsource discover why and look for other prospects that share those reasons. Don't limit your prospecting to large companies or higher levels of government; other small businesses and local government agencies and schools may also need to outsource.

To help guide you in finding outsourcing opportunities here are some examples:

  • Warehousing
  • Accounting, Bookkeeping, Payroll or Tax Preparation
  • HR (Human Resource) Services
  • Sales Agents
  • Temporary Staffing
  • Storeroom Management
  • Purchasing/Procurement
  • Research, Data Gathering and Data Analysis
  • IT Services
  • Call Centers (Customer Service, Telemarketing, etc.)
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Facility/Property Management
  • Janitorial Services
  • Lawn Care
  • Website Maintenance
  • Order Fulfillment
  • Printing/Copying
  • Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing
  • Marketing (PR, Media Contact, etc.)
  • Inventory Cotnrol, Stocking
  • Clerical Services
  • Fund Raising
  • Direct Mail Services (lead generation, reminders, fund raising, invitations, announcements, etc.)
  • Specialized Manufacturing or Assembly
  • Manufacturing Services (metalworking, welding)
  • Construction Services
  • Quality Assurance
  • Safety Compliance
  • Packing and Shipping
  • Translation Services
  • Business Writing (reports, technical, etc.)
  • Data Entry, Data Processing
  • Forms Processing, Document Conversion
  • Security
  • Document Shredding (especially secure)
  • Transcription (medical, legal, preservation)
  • Training
  • Telecommunications

Janet Christy, President of Leverage & Development, LLC and author, Capitalizing on Being Woman Owned
Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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