Running a small business can make you feel like you’re doing everything, all the time—because let’s face it, you probably are.
That busyness can be exciting at first. But running on adrenaline and checklists for months on end can cause you to burn out and make mistakes with the business you’re working so hard to build.
In the spirit of new year’s resolutions, let’s talk about how you can find some help to run your business. Because of the explosion of companies offering affordable service packages and apps providing something-as-a-service (aka XaaS) subscriptions, small-business owners have never had so many budget-friendly options for delegating like a boss.
Outsourcing even one or two business tasks can free you to spend more time on big ideas, network, and maybe even eat meals without catching up on emails at the same time. And professional service providers can help you keep pace with larger competitors, even on an SMB budget.
Not sure what you can turn over to someone else? We’ve put together a list of some of the most common outsourced services to help you get started.
1. Backups for your on-premises documents
When was the last time you backed up the data on your work computer? If you don’t know, it’s time to automate your backups.
You can use a paid service like Carbonite or a freemium tool like Microsoft One Drive or Google Drive for PC backup and sync. Whatever you choose, for the love of Snappy, set it up soon. (And if you’re not regularly backing up your website, learn how now.)
2. Bookkeeping and tax preparation
If you can only automate one task besides backups, make it your business accounting. Apps like FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Sage can reduce your stress by keeping your records organized and helping you file your taxes correctly.
Best of all, while everyone else is losing their minds in early April, you can just… not.
3. IT support
You can’t run an online business if you’re stuck on hold with tech support for hours.
So, if you don’t already have a friendly local tech repair shop in your contacts, start looking for one now. Ask your friends and colleagues who they use, read reviews and call the ones that look decent to find out more about how they work and what they do.
Ideally, you’ll find a shop that can:
- Turn repairs around fast.
- Send someone to you to solve emergency issues.
- Show you how to keep your setup safe.
- Help you decide what to buy (or have them build for you) when it’s time to upgrade.
4. Payment fraud prevention
Your eCommerce platform probably comes with free built-in fraud protection, and it’s probably decent but no match for sophisticated professional fraudsters.
Adding a third-party fraud screening service to your store can reduce your fraud rates, stop your platform from auto-rejecting orders that are probably good, and figure out which of those iffy orders can safely be approved. Cha-ching!
Look for a service that covers the cost of any chargebacks that slip through and that screens every order. That way their AI engine learns the difference between your good customers and even very clever fraudsters.
5. Paid search advertising
Running even a simple ad campaign takes time, and the keywords and targeting have to be right.
By outsourcing your search ad campaigns to a PPC (pay-per-click) service like HostGator’s, you can save time and bring more new customers to your site.
6. Search engine optimization (SEO)
We love sharing SEO information with small-business owners. And there are plenty of helpful apps to pinpoint the areas where you can improve your site, like SEMrush and SEO Check.
But if doing your own keyword optimization doesn’t fit your schedule, delegating it can help you reach new customers fast. HostGator’s SEO Services can build and run a custom SEO campaign and optimize your site so you don’t have to.
One of the highest competitive hurdles that small online businesses have to overcome is the cost of shipping.
Major retailers get huge discounts from shipping carriers, and they have the resources to find the best deals for shipping different items to different places. For an SMB, comparison shopping for shipping can be tedious and may not deliver much benefit because you’re still paying higher rates than the big guys.
Fortunately, there are several companies that help small businesses get the lowest possible rates. For example, HostGator partner Shippo gives customers as much as 90% off the retail rates they would pay at the post office counter.
A good shipping app will also handle some of the tasks that make shipping such a time-suck, like double-checking addresses, generating return labels, scheduling pickups, and keeping your customers updated on when their stuff will arrive.
There’s even a shipping app specifically for subscription box businesses. Pirate Ship offers deep discounts on USPS rates and batch workflows so you can turn out as many labels as you need in one session.
Do you need transcripts of your interviews, meetings and videos for reference, marketing and accessibility?
Some virtual assistants (see below) will handle this for you, but you can save time with an inexpensive AI-powered app like Otter or Temi that records and immediately transcribes your talks.
9. Virtual assistant services
Email and managing your schedule can take up a lot of your work time, especially as your business grows. A virtual assistant service can handle those chores for you, along with data entry, vendor research and management, and more.
Pricing for US-based virtual assistants starts around $25 to $30 per hour. Before you choose, get referrals, read reviews, and research your options with sites like VirtualAssistantAssistant, which lists VA services by region, specialty, customer type and more.
Taking any of the tasks on this list off your to-do list can help you run your business better.
One other way to make business-owner life easier? Get managed WordPress hosting from HostGator for your website for round-the-clock premium support.