Written by Idara Akan - 25/07/2016
What is Outsourcing?
- a term that has become popular in hundreds of different industries over the past five to ten years.
- defined as the management or completing of a function by a third party vendor or service provider.
- also referred to as “contracting out” by many people.
Before outsourcing became a popular means of doing business, companies were forced to hire on new employees every time they had a new need; regardless of how large or small the job.
Outsourcing began catching steam in the business world during the 1990s when people all over the world were searching for ways to lower their costs, while still being able to get all of their work done. These companies were just getting started so they were not large enough to handle all of the needs required of them.
Is Outsourcing the same as Virtual Assistance?
Regardless of the size and scale or type of industry, outsourcing will yield benefits for your business. An industry that has greatly benefited from the growth of outsourcing is the virtual assistance industry. In the early years of the Internet, virtual assistants were perceived as virtual secretaries or virtual personal assistants. They were tasked to handle secretarial duties such as calendar management, appointment setting, phone handling and limited communication.
But when the Internet evolved from a network connecting government agencies to a network connecting billions of computers worldwide, it opened up career opportunities for people in the virtual assistance industry. It also gave businesses with smaller outsourcing requirements a scalable means to delegate tasks and responsibilities.
Is Virtual Assistance necessary?
And the biggest benefactors of virtual assistance are the small business owners. 98% of all businesses registered globally are defined as small business. This is especially true for start-ups who have limited funding sources and access to capital. Having a virtual assistant on-board gives you an affordable but productive resource to help get your business off the ground. “Freelancers”, “Telecommuters”, “Home Based Workers”; the terminology may vary but the meaning remains the same. These are all permutations of the Virtual Assistant; people who work online from a remote location and are contracted by businesses to render service on a project or a specific job.
What Researchers say...
A group of Nigerian lecturers in a research study postulated that 80% of small businesses are stifled because of the problem of poor financing and other problems associated with it which include:
- Lack of competent management which is the consequence of inability of owners to employ the services of experts.
- Use of obsolete equipment and methods of production because of owner’s inability to access new technology.
- Excessive competition that resulted from sales which is a consequence of poor finance to cope with increased competition in the industry.
Other researches on Nigerian small businesses recommend modern management techniques, accounting techniques and specialised consultancy services should be introduced to small business owners as they have become a necessity in modern business practice.
Will Virtual Assistants be of benefit to small businesses?
The fact that small companies can use virtual assistants to complete projects suggests it has many rewards such as the ability to gain the knowledge and expertise from an industry professional. If you have a project or assignment you cannot handle on your own, you can hire a virtual assistant to assist you. Instead of having to take on an assignment you are not familiar with, you can hire a virtual assistant to complete the job.
This is advantageous to the small business because they can search for the best provider for their particular project. Also, being able to pick and choose the provider you want to work with, will ensure you end up with a quality result in the end.
To go along with the advantage listed above, when you hire a virtual assistant, you never have to worry about putting them on your payroll. Instead of having to hire an employee and add them to your monthly payroll, you can simply set your terms up front with your virtual assistant.
Outsourcing offers small businesses a great range of flexibility. Since you never have to hire the employee directly, you will be able to work with your virtual assistant on a as-you-need basis. This is helpful when you have a project that pops up out of nowhere and you need immediate assistance. It allows you the flexibility to always have a virtual assistant on call, but without ever having to directly hire them.
Outsourcing projects that either will divert you from your core business or cannot be done in house saves your business a lot of money and yourself a lot of stress. Outsourcing affords you the opportunity to hire a virtual assistant only when you need one, and then cuts the cost out of your budget when you do not.
As business continues to be unpredictable, more companies and enterprises are expected to hedge their futures on outsourcing and its various options. The New Economy is the global business environment. There is no going back. The virtual assistant may prove to be the most valuable asset to your business in the New Economy.
As a Nigerian business owner, what are your thoughts and comments?
5M eServices Limited is a Virtual Assistant Services Agency dedicated to taking care of the little things so that you can focus on your core business.
- Osotimehin, K.O. Jegede, Charles. A. Akinlabi, Babatunde. H. Olajide, O.T. (2012) ‘An Evaluation of the Challenges and Prospects of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises Development in Nigeria’. American International Journal of Contemporary Research 2 (4) pp 174-185. http://www.aijcrnet.com/journals/Vol_2_No_4_April_2012/21.pdf [accessed on 25/07/2016].
- Ekot, G. E. (2010) ‘Small Business Ownership and Management in Uyo Metropolis, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria: Problems and Prospects’. International Journal of Economic Development Research and Investment 1 (1) pp 123-134. http://www.icidr.org/ijedri_vol1no1_april2010/Small%20Business%20Ownership%20and%20Management%20in%20Uyo%20Metropolis,%20Akwa%20Ibom%20State,%20Nigeria%20Problems%20and%20Prospects.pdf [accessed on 25/7/2016].
- Nmadu, Job N. Aiyelitsoya, Fatima. A. Sallawu, Halima (2013) ‘Use of ICT in Securing Marketing Information among Small Scale Farmers in Niger State, Nigeria’. International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance 4 (2) pp 66-72. http://www.ijtef.org/papers/262-CF2008.pdf [accessed on 25/7/2016].
- Oborah, James Omatule. (2011) ‘Status of the Utilisation of E-Commerce Resources by Small and Medium (SMES) Enterprises in Nigeria’. Int. J Busi. Inf. Tech. 1 (2) pp 165-173. http://www.ojs.excelingtech.co.uk/index.php/IJBIT/article/download/158/99 [accessed on 25/7/2016].
- Outsourceworkers.com.au. (2016) Outsourcing Services To Virtual Assistants. http://www.outsourceworkers.com.au [accessed on 26/06/2016].