Kunle is a fashion designer and runs a fashion design startup. As the founder, he alone is in charge of operations, customer service, accounting, and supervision of the tailors he works with.

Sadly, his case is the popular condition of many startup founders today and this eventually leads to burn-out or an inevitable drop in the efficiency of his business.

With clients’ demands and the volume of tasks to be completed, you must know that you cannot handle every function yourself. As you might be in the early years of building your business, probably still bootstrapping, you might not have the funds to hire the best hands to handle different parts of your business. How then do you get by and still offer the best services to your clients? This is where outsourcing comes in.

Outsourcing is a concept that has come to stay in the startup world and in business at large. It involves outsourcing one or more of your processes or activities to other organisations or individuals. Some services that are commonly outsourced are HR and recruitment, legal, IT functions, content creation, digital marketing, etc.  

The benefits of outsourcing certain aspects of your business outweigh handling all the responsibilities yourself as outsourcing helps you save funds, access skilled professionals, concentrate on the core activities of your business, improve your productivity and customer service.

With these advantages of outsourcing, here are things to consider before you start outsourcing or as you outsource.

  1. Experience comes first

As a startup, you often operate with a limited amount of money, workforce, and target market. Outsourcing projects or tasks to a third party presents a certain risk.

Whatever task you want to outsource, it is important to conduct your research and find individuals or agencies who are experts at what they do. They should have a proven track record of delivering on the service they will be handling. 
Their services should also complement your business and make things easier for you, not the other way around.

2. Don’t neglect intellectual property considerations.

What rights do you have on the work being done for you? This is very important with services such as your mobile app development, content creation, and other related matters. 
That said, when outsourcing developments (web, app, software, etc.), it’s your responsibility to clearly define who owns these developments and secure your intellectual property against misuse and theft. This can be done by drafting contracts such as intellectual property assignment agreements non-disclosure agreements which the freelancer or outsourcing agency will be required to sign and adhere to. Always seek professional legal advice if you have any questions relating to this.

3. Effective communication and proper project management is important

Outsourcing gone bad can be a major setback. In some cases, it can close the doors of your startup. This is why it is important to work with honest individuals or agencies. The value of good communication cannot be overemphasized as it is at the root of starting and maintaining a positive relationship with the person you are outsourcing to. It also plays a major role in determining the quality of work you will receive at the end of the day.  Identify a preferred method of communication, whether by phone, email or physical meeting and ensure that your needs are clearly communicated to the person you are outsourcing to. While the task or project is being carried out, ensure that you are provided with relevant feedback on the status of your work. This is where project documentation comes in.

Project documentation helps you keep track of each stage of your work and can be a good reference for a future similar task. Established outsourcing companies have workers who are skilled in providing extensive project documentation and management. They routinely put together project proposals, plans, reports, and analytics. This will save you a lot of time which you can use to shift focus to the things at hand.

4. Outsource your weaknesses.

Whilst you might have various aspects of your business to outsource at the initial stage of your business as you cannot afford to hire a full-time staff to handle such work, it is important for you to look at your team and the work you have to do on a regular basis to help you evaluate what your core and non-core competencies are. Consider outsourcing areas where you and your team are not competent to handle.

Finally, in your best interest, you should ensure that you discuss with your lawyer before you engage any agency or individual to handle your work. If you do not have a lawyer, DIYlaw has you covered. Simply visit www.diylaw.ng/engage to access their repository of lawyers who will gladly come to your aid.