It’s a common condition for small business owners: the 3am stare at the bedroom ceiling and the nagging concern of how to grow the business faster.
The staring is usually accompanied by a bout of the ‘if onlys’. If only I could allocate more to the marketing budget; if only we could get the website humming; if only the team had more time to dedicate to activities that actually grew the business.
If only. If only. If only.
Increasingly, Australian small to medium enterprises are finding a way to fast-track their business growth by adding expertise to their staff that not only increases overall productivity but also moves the business further and faster along the experience curve.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) allows SMEs to access experienced and talented staff who can help compress a five-year business plan into maybe two or three years.
Once considered the domain of only the large multinationals, even small businesses are now establishing international capabilities by tapping into the growing pool of experienced professionals in English-speaking countries such as the Philippines.
That means Australian marketing managers who previously might have also handled activities such as graphic design and search engine optimisation can now afford to have those tasks run by expert staff offshore, freeing them up to concentrate on work that grows revenue.
For an Australian SME that is trying to achieve as much as they can on a tight budget, adding more firepower to areas like webpage design, digital marketing and SEO can vastly accelerate growth.
One of the great myths of offshoring is that it is restricted to low-level functions such as outbound call centres.
An experienced offshore recruiter can source highly experienced teams of professionals with expertise in graphic design, digital marketing, accounts receivable, data processing and other functions that have traditionally diverted business owners away from the core activity of profitable growth.
This allows smaller businesses and start-ups to access roles they traditionally would not have been able to early on in their growth cycle (enabling them to grow quickly and potentially add more resources at the local level down the track).
We are aware of an SME with one employee, a chartered accountant, who was having to perform menial data processing tasks and account entry functions. By offshoring the data and account entry component, the accountant was able to spend more time with upper management on growing the business. They were also able to be upskilled in the latest industry software and became more active in modelling and forecasting which give more visibility on growth.
Another SME, a start-up within the technology sector, had difficulty hiring the development talent they required to code – they had their head developer and other key staff performing basic tasks and coding functions rather than taking charge of the strategic side of the project. Once they realised they could recruit highly skilled developers offshore, and did so, local staff were able to focus on the bigger picture. Without offshore labour, the start-up would have been incredibly slow to market. Now they’re able to grow and as a result, may be able to begin employing local staff quicker.
We see the same story over and over again, with a range of white collar roles including web development, copywriting and graphic design.
The rapid improvement in global telecommunications means running a team overseas is little different to running a team in another state.
With high-speed video and voice over IP, managers can oversee team members in a city such as Manila with the same effort as managing staff in, say, Adelaide or Perth.
The Philippines in particular offers particular advantages to an Australian business looking to quickly advance their growth.
The Filipino workforce is highly skilled and technically proficient, with 400,000 new graduates each year adding to the talent pool of business administration, marketing and communications.
The offshoring industry has operated in the Philippines for more than 20 years so more than 4 million trained local workers have experience working for international companies.
The industry is now the second largest contributor to GDP in the Philippines and the government has established special economic zones where offshoring businesses receive tax incentives and other forms of government assistance.
Offshoring for Australian small businesses is not about cost-cutting, the focus is on growth.
With careful planning and finding expert help to recruit an offshore team, SME owners can hopefully sleep a little easier at night.
About the author
Angela Vidler is CEO of Diversify, a national offshore solutions specialist that works with large and small listed and private companies to help grow their businesses by establishing tailored offshore teams. With offices in Australia and the Philippines, Diversify helps businesses identify and solve their unique problems, by nurturing and fostering high quality, high performance teams.