Business During COVID-19: Why Now Is the Best Time for SMBs to Try Outsourcing

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Since the spread of COVID-19, many things started to shift. Local and national governments have required everyone to stay home and shelter in place.

This has caused a frustrating, albeit necessary, limitation on people’s movements. The infected have placed themselves in quarantine or were placed in the care of health workers; health workers’ lives are presently on pause to tend to others’ needs. And as everything stands on rocky ground, businesses continue to suffer.

According to a report in The Washington Post, over 100,000 small businesses in the US will most likely close. It cites a study released in April 2020, which surveyed more than 5,800 small businesses. About 43% of the respondents said they had put a hold on their business operations, citing financial struggles — resulting from the pandemic — as the main reason. But why is COVID-19 drastically affecting businesses? The answer lies in business continuity, and COVID-19 is the culprit. 

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How Is COVID-19 Affecting Your Business? 

So many factors contribute to businesses failing in the time of COVID-19. Businesses that have tourism as their primary service will have to postpone operations during a global health crisis. Or startups might find trouble in building their team and keeping their project management afloat. But the following challenges are the most widespread and threatening.

Diminished Workforce

Companies have had to change their work base from the office to the home to observe quarantine orders. To some, this even entailed a postponement in business activities. Limited movement impacts businesses to varying degrees, but it generally slows down production — particularly for companies inexperienced with virtual work. 

A recent report in USA Today notes unemployment rates have soared since the recession of 2009, and this has eliminated the recovery from the crisis. While many businesses that have closed are part of the tourism industry, companies from other sectors have also been affected. 

This is because most businesses were not prepared for a pandemic of this scale, and their work setups have always relied on physical presence. For small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), this is especially material. SMBs have small teams and having fewer people at work necessarily meant being able to cater to a smaller group of customers. Additionally, many SMBs do not have the means to deal with a virtual work setup, which has prevented them from running smoothly.

Lack of Proper Tools and Physical Space

Imagine the challenges of setting up a new office. Also, imagine not having the right infrastructure. It’s a nightmare for any small business, which is now compounded significantly with the reality of COVID-19.

Tools and infrastructure are the systems and technologies companies rely on to operate efficiently. When you have a new project you want your company to launch, faulty and incomplete technology becomes much more challenging than it should be. A study published in the management sciences journal Acta Commercii found inadequate infrastructure negatively impacted an SMB’s ability to generate profit. 

This is only one example of how poor infrastructure affects business operations. Its effects are so pervasive, even recruitment and onboarding are affected. When you need new members on your team, you may have difficulties with recruitment and onboarding due to having no systems in place when unforeseen events, such as COVID-19, occur. 

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Limited Business Opportunities

Most businesses require a physical presence, whether on the part of the consumer or the workforce. However, the current global health crisis has stopped in-person interaction, which increased the number of business closings. Because people currently don’t have as many means to access products or services, consumers have resorted to the digital space, limiting the avenues through which businesses can improve their sales. 

According to a report by the International Labour Organization, COVID-19 has interfered with the growth of multiple sectors, including education, food retail, tourism, and automobile manufacturing. Some of these sectors might require more than merely adjusting to the present norm to survive, but others have the means to save their businesses with the right approach to virtual operations. So how can businesses ensure they survive an unstable time?

Outsourcing: The Smart Solution for Your Business During COVID-19

Nobody predicted the world would end up in the state it is in now, and no one can predict the next disturbance to normalcy. Fortuitous events have occurred in the past and affected businesses to a damaging degree. 

Hurricane Katrina, for example, put a lot of businesses in danger. A 2017 report in The Denver Post says when the hurricane hit New Orleans, it took years for small enterprises to recover from the loss they endured due to the calamity. This is because events immediately slow down business operations, incapacitating companies’ ability to generate revenue. 

But the markets then were vastly different from what they are today. So instead of looking at the current business climate as a sign you should close your doors, view it as an opportunity to optimize your business functions and workforce — a time to invest in your company’s long-term success.

For SMBs, success is contingent on how they preserve and maximize their resources, capital, and workforce. This means they cannot afford high-risk business decisions when affordable and efficient alternatives abound. And an excellent alternative to address all SMBs’ basic needs is outsourcing. The beauty of outsourcing is it brings together businesses with the same goal. And when two companies gather with the aims to help each other grow, they more easily reach their individual goals.

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6 Benefits of Outsourcing During a Pandemic

Among other things, COVID-19 brings to light the importance of having a virtual team you can trust to support your business’ functions. Here are some of the best benefits of outsourcing during a pandemic.

Benefit #1: Access to Virtual Employees with Highly Specialized Skills

Business leaders love having a team with whom they can work easily. This is the value businesses get from having a stable in-house workforce. But what if a catastrophe occurs and not everyone on your team can go virtual? 

Outsourcing a dedicated team is the same as having a synergetic, on-call team — with fewer setbacks. Companies often fear intermittent availability, faulty communication, and a diminished sense of control when partnering with a firm that bridges the gap between them and their goals. But consider again how factors such as a pandemic can alter your company’s capacity to sustain a well-paid workforce. 

At a time when physical presence is impossible, having virtual employees can keep your business running. And it wouldn’t even feel like you’re working with a separate group of people with different business interests. Your outsourcing partner will know exactly how to adjust to your needs, treating your business as though it were theirs.

Benefit #2: Better Investment of Capital and Resources

Money has become a crucial consideration for decision-making since COVID-19 broke out. Its importance is felt everywhere — from households to companies. But this realization can help SMBs reconsider their organizational structure, delegating some of their work to an offshore outsourcing team at an affordable price.

This is an excellent time to try outsourcing, because it can make the difference between a company continuing or dying out. Capital and resources are now at stake, and your company needs a steady, competent team to make sure these two elements are maximized. Outsourcing to a country with lower rates of labor, will address this issue when it matters most.

To illustrate how this helps your SMB, we’ll use the Philippines as an example of an offshore outsourcing destination. The Philippine government identifies the BPO industry as one of the country’s driving forces of economic growth. And because of this, laws are in place to encourage foreign investment to be channeled into local outsourcing companies. So, if you decide to outsource to a Philippines-based firm, expect tax incentives and minimized bureaucracy.

Learn more about why the Philippines is one of the top outsourcing destinations for companies around the world here.

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Benefit #3: Optimized Workflow for Business Continuity During COVID-19

SMBs need to find people who have the skill set to lead and bring their ideas to life, especially when starting out. Their workflow depended on the way the world worked before the pandemic, which meant getting together, face-to-face recruitment and onboarding, and all the standard ways companies accomplished things.

But when you look at the requirements of an optimized workflow, you’ll see it boils down to having great project managers to lead a group. And for SMBs, it doesn’t have to be an internal team. A virtual outsourced team can manage business functions and project management. This will significantly reduce an SMB’s business load and help them grow their business during a pandemic-induced dry spell.

Benefit #4: Easy Access to the Best Infrastructure

Proper infrastructure has become an urgent necessity now that everyone’s working from home. By outsourcing, you won’t have to worry about acquiring or maintaining infrastructure for highly specialized work. All you need to do is communicate your needs to your partner outsourcing firm, and they will deal with the logistics and costs of infrastructure. 

With multiple clients serviced, outsourcing companies generally have a tried-and-tested process to handle third-party projects. They already have the right software and hardware, reliable project management systems, and organized workflow for your project to come to life.

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Benefit #5: Greater Opportunity to Launch New Projects Easily

Earlier this year, many new SMBs had planned to launch big-time projects, aiming to propel their company to success. Then the world came to a halt when the virus spread, and suddenly new SMBs found it difficult to execute their plans. But what’s hindering them?

Most SMBs experience high levels of stress. About 39% of workers in America identified “workload” as their primary stressor, followed by “people issues” (31%) and “juggling work and personal life” (19%), according to a recent Statista survey. In Canada, similar percentages exist. According to a survey published in Statistics Canada, more than 30% of workers said long hours and heavy workloads are the primary reason for their stress. Additionally, the recruitment firm Robert Half found a majority of employees in Australia (61%) cited increasing workload as their main stressor at work.

These are alarming statistics, because they indicate a lack of proper work delegation within most companies. If workers were stressed because of how many tasks they had to do before the pandemic, what about during this time when human resources are even slimmer?

Partnering with a third-party company with seasoned developers, versatile artists, or chat support specialists can help you pursue opportunities better. Outsourcing eliminates all worries. You get to have a readily available team that can immediately begin working on your project, which is faster than planning to build an in-house team from the very beginning. Plus, you get to work closely with a group of professionals without having to manage them yourself. 

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Benefit #6: Ability to Focus and Expand on Your Core Business

With COVID-19 overwhelming the world, there’s only so much attention you can give your business. And non-core activities should be the least of your concerns. Harvard Business Review reveals in order for enterprises to expand, they must sustain growth by (1) moving from their core business to an adjacent field, and (2) having a successful, repeatable formula to continue pushing these boundaries. But how will a company achieve this level of expansion if they remain disoriented by the new circumstances?

Delegation helps you focus and expand your core business. Make sure you stock up not only on resources but also on strategies that will accelerate your company’s growth. Invest in your people’s skills as well, and let your outsourcing partner do the significant, non-core work for you.

What Types of Work Should Your Business Outsource During COVID-19? 

There is a model that helps businesses decide whether they should outsource. The Outsourcing Decision Matrix, developed by Philippe-Pierre Dornier and his colleagues, is a helpful tool to assess what types of tasks should be kept in-house or delegated to an outsourcing firm. 

Outsourcing Decision Matrix Guide. Download the printable file below so you can use this template to categorize your business activities.

In the matrix, two parts are labeled “Outsourcing” and “Strategic Alliance”. “Outsourcing” is beneficial for operational non-core work. This includes data entry, virtual assistance, chat and tech support, and other important work.

On the other hand, “Strategic Alliance” is great for companies that require a certain task to be done but cannot execute it.  For example, a gaming company might be skilled at coming up with gameplay ideas and story plotlines but may lack the ability to render the art and animation needed for their product. It’s crucial for their business’ survival, but it’s not within their range. Common work that requires a strategic alliance with another company includes software development, digital art creation, and game development.

It’s time businesses take a more proactive approach by maximizing the virtual space. If you want to partner with an outsourcing firm, consider NarraSoft. Our company can do the following work for you:

Struggling to keep your business afloat during COVID-19? Contact us now, and we’ll offer you a free consultation, complete with a step-by-step plan, and a quotation if you want to benefit from our services in the future. Send us an e-mail at sales@narrasoft.com or leave us a message on our form or chat box. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan is a content and copy writer. She has written for a popular business daily in the Philippines and for various startups across the globe before transitioning to work for NarraSoft. She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a bachelor's degree in journalism.