Outsourcing Helps Small Biz Look Big

Far too often, growth for a small business is hampered by limited resources. There may not be enough local experts to hire or not enough money to afford them. But you don’t have to go it alone.

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Outsourcing for small businesses can save time and money, of which the small business owner often has precious little to spare. But where can you go, and who can you trust to share the burden?

Andy Tabar runs a fledgling IT company, Bizooki, out of Nashville. Starting out with simple Web design, he’s grown into developing software, but not without some help from afar. Tabar outsources programming to India, where the burgeoning IT industry has created plenty of companies eager to take on Bizooki’s projects.

Tabar was reluctant at first to trust strangers with important work. “I’d always heard horror stories about it,” Tabar says, “but the trick is having a good relationship with the people you’re outsourcing to.” Tabar also suggests starting small with minor projects that can’t be catastrophically ruined if you made the wrong choice. If the relationship works out, you can move on to bigger operations.

Larry Rossini, director of the Tennessee Small Business Center in Knoxville, warns that contracts should be entered into with a probationary term, so that your company is not stuck with a relationship it can’t easily escape. Test the waters with any company to which you outsource. Check their references and even ask for a credit report. It’s no use counting on a long-term partnership with a company that might not be around next year.

Wynne James at law firm Waller Lansden encourages companies to carefully choose their partners and clearly lay out expectations. If you’re outsourcing overseas, agree on the laws you’ll treat as applicable in the contract, whether they be U.S. or the laws of the country you’re outsourcing to. James suggests U.S. laws, which are more likely to protect you, and advises that you seek help from a lawyer in drafting a major contract.

This may all seem daunting for the owner of a startup business, but the savings can make it worthwhile.

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