Make no mistake about it: outsourcing is a dirty word in modern day American culture. The last thing you want is for people to label you as an outsourcer. Even before indie businesses gained in popularity and people started elevating “makers,” even the idea of a company sending its work out of the country could quickly lead to boycotts and other problems.
Knowing all of these things, why do so many companies still choose to risk their credibility and popularity? Because it’s cheaper.
Outsourcing, for example, your customer service call center to countries like the Phillippines or India allows you to hire employees for pennies on the dollar. Because of exchange rates, you can pay 10 workers a livable wage for what it would cost you to hire one part-time worker domestically. There are also tax benefits afforded to those who choose to outsource their work.
This is where most new business owners find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Nobody wants to send precious jobs out of country. At the same time, most new businesses can’t afford to bring in a full-time domestic workforce and offer them the same incentives that they can to those who work where the exchange rate is significant. So what do you do? How do you avoid outsourcing your work if your company is on a tight budget?
Consider Operating Virtually
One of the nice things about living in the future is that many businesses can operate virtually and allow their employees to work from anywhere. Allowing employees to work remotely or telecommute is cheaper than leasing company space and hiring locals to come in full-time. It can also make your company more productive and profitable, especially with companies like Asure Software creating programs that allow you to remotely monitor your workforce.
Work With Freelancers
Another great way to keep business costs low is to work with freelancers. Freelancers operate via 1099 instead of W-2. This alleviates your payroll duties as they take care of their taxes themselves. You are also off the hook as far as health and other benefits are concerned. More importantly, freelancers often charge by the project so you won’t have to worry that you are paying someone to take up space when the workload lightens.
Get The Family Involved
Child labor laws being what they are, you probably won’t be able to fulfill your dream of being a live action Bob’s Burgers. Even so, you can ask your family to help you keep your business running. You can ask your kids to help you design your marketing materials (face it, they’re probably better with design and design tech than you are). Older kids, your partner, your siblings–heck, even your parents–can all help you get up and running by filling administrative roles. The great thing about family is that most of them are willing to volunteer, at least for a little while. They are also more likely to offer their work in trade for meals, babysitting, getting driven around, house and yard work, etc. There are probably at least a few of your friends who will be willing to volunteer every once in a while as well.
Hire Interns And Work Study Students
Perhaps one of the best inventions of the twentieth century is the internship. You probably did at least a couple of those yourself. Interns are a great way to fill your entry level positions without having to pay full-time wages or benefits. Instead, you grade them on their work, offer recommendations to future employers, teach them the ropes, etc. You can pay them, but it is not mandatory.
Work study students are another great way to get your admin and entry level work done. Partner with your local college or university to offer positions at work study wages to students. In addition to often only being required to pay these students minimum wage, you will often be given the money for their salaries from the school or the government. Sometimes you won’t be the person to pay them at all, you’ll simply have to sign their time sheet and the school will take care of the rest.
Obviously, what you want to do is hire a bunch of awesome people and build a business that is known for paying well and offering fantastic working conditions (think Costco, the Container Store, Intuit, etc.). When you’re just starting out, however, and trying to build something from scratch, you probably don’t have the budget to do that. Use these sure fire ways to help avoid outsourcing while you get your start and build some buzz.