Techies are a unique breed. Their passion is how technology can be developed and used in new and exciting ways. They are deep into their profession and tend to connect with other techies who are as passionate as they are. They solve problems for the rest of us and make our digital life more manageable. We can now bank online; we can buy and invest online; we can connect with old high school friends; we can search for answers, even by speech; we can put ourselves in virtual worlds. All of these things we can thank a techie for. And if you are a techie, please accept our gratitude.
Tech startups are exciting. A new app, a new financial services product, a new game – all with the potential to “make it” if the stars are aligned, if the funding is found, and if the marketing/exposure is done right.
But here’s the thing about tech startups. They are lean and mean, and people with particular strengths found them. And those people often do not have strengths in other areas of growing a business. What’s more, they don’t usually have the budget to hire staff to perform all of these other functions.
The solution? Outsource those business functions which cannot be performed well in-house.
What Should You Outsource?
There are no universal “rules” for what a tech startup should outsource. But, like any business, there are basic functions that must be performed. And every founder, of any company, must spend time reflecting on his strengths and weaknesses, and planning how others can neutralize those weaknesses.
As you do reflect upon strengths and challenges, be honest. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I can do that – I’ll just study up on it a little bit.” Don’t do that. Evaluate what your gaps are and consider outsourcing, so you can focus on your business goals and leave the rest to the pros.
But here are five functions that should be considered for outsourcing (plus one bonus)
5 Things Tech Startups Should Consider Outsourcing
There are the state and national laws related to businesses, and you don’t have time to learn them all. So that you are in full compliance, retain an attorney. S/he can advise you on the type of corporation, partnership, etc. to set up and make sure that all of the right filings are made, along with patent or copyright advice.
Yes, there are excellent accounting software packages that will perform all of your bookkeeping tasks, and even prepare your tax filings. But accounting and finance are more than that. You need a financial plan, one that includes a complete picture of the reserve you need, your projected revenue, your “break even” point, etc. In short, you need a business budget. Getting an accountant to at least review your financial plan and make suggestions, and to review your finances at least quarterly, is just the smart thing to do. The majority of startups that fail do so because of money issues and no real financial plan.
If you plan to enter a foreign market or even market to those segments of the population in your own country who are foreign-speaking, then you want translation services. Such customers will appreciate the fact that they can access your website, your blog, and even social media platforms in their language.
There are machine translation functions, such as Google translate. But be aware that, while they are improving all the time (artificial intelligence and machine learning, of course), you will get a literal translation, void of the nuances and idioms that are necessary.
Many large corporations have made some big “goofs” in translation, so be careful. It’s not just about translation; it’s about localizing all of your text and visuals so that you do not offend another culture. And, if you plan to market a software product, an app, or a game, proper localization is critical. You need the right person for your specific needs.
Marketing a product or service, especially online, is a blend of science and art. With so much marketing content out there, it takes a lot of research and data analysis, and buckets of creativity, if a business is to be “discovered.” Everything from a business website, to its blog, to its social media platforms, and other marketing materials and activities, requires true professionals.
Finding your audience; understanding their needs and how you can meet them; appealing to them where they are; using humor, education, and inspiration that will hook them – all of these things are the result of lots of research and then creating the content and visuals that are going to engage.
Content marketing is a business niche all on its own these days. You are not in this business. Find someone with a record of success and use them. If you need assistance, check the writing service Trust My Paper or freelance platform Fiverr. The important thing is that you now have a clear social media content plan, and you know what to ask from the writers.
From the moment a customer/client contacts you, you are in the customer service business as much as you are in your tech business. How you handle that customer from the point of contact forward is a matter of exceptional service.
What is your plan for this exceptional customer service? How will you communicate with your potential and existing customers? How will you respond to their questions and issues? How will you keep them satisfied that they are important to you and that you have their needs “front and center?”
You have lots of options here – a call center, a live chat feature, chatbots and virtual assistants, email, etc. But customer relations management, again, is an industry niche all of its today.
Consumers want a rapid response; they want quick resolutions and answers; and they will drop a company like a “hot potato,” if customer service is lacking.
Look at all of your options for customer service. And find the right customer relations management agency that will work for you. Even if you find the best CRM package that works for you, you still need someone to implement it effectively. This is something that can be contracted out. You don’t have the time.
Human Resources (for the future)
This may not be an initial concern for a tech startup. After all, you have just been given five areas in which you can outsource services that your business needs. But as you grow, you have to think about adding permanent staff to perform these business functions.
Finding the right people can be a monumental task. You can advertise on job boards, collect hundreds of resumes, but then you have to screen them, narrow down the field, and begin the interviewing process. Do you even know what questions to ask a candidate? Do you know how to craft a job posting that will attract the right candidates? Probably not.
Your best strategy is to contract with a recruitment firm that can do all of the initial work for you and present you with the best few candidates that you can then meet with. A right firm will even help you devise the questions to ask and the things to look for, based upon your niche and the work culture you want to maintain. You are not a personnel professional, nor do you want to become one. Let the right contractor do the grunt work for you.
That’s a Wrap
There you have it. Six areas of your business operations that are perhaps better outsourced than performed from within. As a startup, you need to focus on your product or service. Let the pros focus on other aspects of your business functions. It’s cost-effective and will let you sleep better at night.