Advantage, You! (Part 1)

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Diana Vollmer |

You deal with lots of challenges, but some can be outsourced

SAN FRANCISCO — You’re the owner. You have the advantage, the home court. But are you making good use of it?

Every business, regardless of size, needs expertise to devote knowledge and proficiency to everyday tasks and occasional incidents encountered by companies across all industries. Do you...

Love owning your business but hate the accounting?

Enjoy the financial aspects but don’t know, or care to know, one tool from another?

Like managing employees but hate talking to customers?

Or have you recently had a new experience and don’t know what should be done about it?

Of all the things that happen in business, small-business owners must personally address more challenges than owners of large companies, and certainly more than professional managers at those large corporations who have professional staff they can assign to every task.

Large organizations have more resources available to pay for full-time, highly focused on-staff capabilities.

Do you have an organizational chart? Although certainly not comprehensive, it can list many of the responsibilities that need to be fulfilled continually by the drycleaning organization. As the owner, you have ultimate responsibility for every aspect of the business, beginning with your business model.

That responsibility includes the following: people (internal employees, and external customers, suppliers and partners), product and production, logistics, facilities, equipment, maintenance, operations, finance, capital, sales and marketing, processes and procedures, pricing, packaging, store design, layout, site selection, and even more.

Some of these responsibilities are intermittent, like finding a new location, laying out a plant, and signing a lease. Others are ongoing, like production and customer service.

Regardless, someone must be responsible for completion of the duties involved and the expertise needed to do a good job even when required skills are very specific to each task.

As you review your organizational chart, remember that the job must be done whether there is a staff individual specifically assigned to do it or not. So how is a small-business owner supposed to accomplish the daunting responsibilities faced in the broad range of duties that need to be fulfilled?

There are two general options: hire internal employees that are assigned to one (and often more) of the jobs; or contract for external experts to do the functions as the need arises.

The latter option is known as outsourcing.

GET OUTSIDE

Outsourcing can be a cost-effective approach to obtain cutting-edge expertise and talent that can be directed at a specialized need of the business.

Hiring part-time or occasional outside skill can be more effective and less expensive than hiring full-time general knowledge employees whose proficiency may fall short of the focused capabilities needed intermittently to deal with the unusual events that may occasionally arise.

You likely already outsource your legal and tax reporting functions to attorneys and CPAs due to the unique education and skills requirements involved. Most of you are also familiar with outsourcing payroll to a company that specializes in performing that specific function.

Because it is their primary business, they can be more efficient at the accounting tasks involved as well as being up to date on regulations and reporting requirements.

Depending on their contracted role, they can assist when questions or audits arise and can make the process smoother because regulators know them and are used to working with them.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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