Coming Out The Closet: Claire White On The Stigma Of Outsourcing
Running your own business is time-consuming. Understatement of the century? Whether you just started your business and are running ragged trying to piece everything together, or you’ve been running your company for years, often business-owners can find they spend a lot of valuable time dealing with menial tasks like call answering or email-sorting.
These are tasks that could easily be managed by someone else. Many company owners have, in fact, turned to outsourcing to help them manage their time more effectively.
So why is there still a stigma attached to outsourcing? We talked to Claire White, the self-styled Head Honcho at Claire White Associates about the reasons for this and where she believes the trend is heading in the future.
What is the stigma?
Many businesses turn to outsourcing in order to streamline their business activities. As a business owner, when you take the decision to outsource some of your activities, you may also be hoping to cultivate a particular effect or image. In particular, one-man-bands and start-ups are likely to want to appear bigger than they are.
“Projecting a professional image in order to attract clients is essential in order to compete on a level playing field with larger, more traditionally structured companies,” Claire explained.
“The potential client may be worried about working with what they perceive as a one-man-band,” she continued knowingly, “fearing the lack of concrete ties might mean the service will suddenly disappear, leaving the client in the lurch.”
In the last year alone, 102,000 businesses were opened across the UK. Despite the significant increase of the number of start-ups, many run by just one person, it would appear that there remains a reluctance to do business with a company run on such a small scale.
As a result, Claire said, “From my experience, businesses don’t so much hide the fact that they outsource services, they simply don’t advertise the fact; preferring to let the potential customer gain the desired impression and only going into detail if asked.”
The uses of outsourcing.
Outsourcing helps you keep on top of mundane tasks like call answering, email organisation and diary management. But outsourcing also provides you with the opportunity for an expert to handle aspects of your business that you are not so familiar with.
For instance, you can outsource your accounts, marketing and web development to Claire White Associates, freeing you up to concentrate on actually running your business.
In addition to this, outsourcing helps create the impression of a larger firm and a more professional atmosphere than a company run from your bedroom. “There remains a slight stigma attached to working from home and outsourcing,” Claire mused, crediting this view, “perhaps to a more traditionalist quarter who haven’t yet considered the alternatives to the 9 – 5 corporate existence.”
The new normal?
In spite of some of the stigma associated with outsourcing, Claire confidently asserted, “The virtual model has clearly been shown to be successful, and is most definitely here to stay.”
She noted that “As the virtual way of working increases and the younger generation (for whom outsourcing seems perfectly normal and flexibility is an aim from the outset) rises through the ranks, the stigma will inevitably disappear.”
“Outsourcing,” she went on, “will become a completely accepted model. In addition, a business’ history and credibility is a big factor in assuaging any nervousness from the potential client about the model used.”
The model of future working.
Understandably, as a business owner, handing over the reins of one of the aspects of your business to a third party can be a daunting prospect. Be sure to research your options and get personal recommendations about the services you are looking into.
“I have a hand-picked team of specialists and partners with whom I’ve worked for some years,” said Claire, “providing ‘always there’ resource, capacity and expertise to help run and develop my clients’ businesses.” She always assures her clients of the quality of the work they can expect on their behalf.
“This has always been enough to quash and concerns, and ironically, the executives and business owners I meet are very quick to admit their envy at what they describe as ‘the perfect model’ for future working.”
Claire White launched Claire White Associates in January 2005, offering a high quality outsourcing service to independent professionals in South Yorkshire and surrounding areas, and Senior Executives across the UK and beyond.