home based businesses outsource

How Can a Home Based Business Benefit from Outsourcing?

Benefits of outsourcing for home based businesses

Far too many times I hear people saying outsourcing is for large businesses only.  Since most of the businesses in the United States start and operate from home, according to research, we should look into the Benefits of outsourcing for home based businesses.  Can small businesses afford to outsource and does it even make sense?  In this article I would like to look at the possibilities outsourcing brings and how can it affect the profitability of your business.  I will give real life examples and also draw from my own experience.  I think my conclusion will make sense, but if it doesn’t, let me know and we can discuss.

home based businesses outsource
home based businesses outsource

What is Outsourcing, Anyway?

For those who do not understand the term “outsourcing,” it simply means hiring an outside company to do some functions for your company.  Investopedia’s definition of outsourcing is as follows:

Outsourcing is a practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally.

As investopedia points out, it is meant to reduce cost for an organization while reducing their work load.  They also say that it is a smart move for some companies to implement outsourcing strategy only if used properly.  It is easy to get into disastrous contracts and loose lots of capital for large organizations if managers do not do their due diligence.  But for smaller businesses, there is not as much risk as for large ones.   So, you must be asking yourself, what function of my business can I outsource? Let’s get into that right now.

Home Based Businesses Should Outsource

home based businesses should use outsourcing
home based businesses should use outsourcing

Let’s take my small business where we sell small items, such as cellphone accessories online.  This business started back in 2010 and daily volume of orders is now at 250-300 orders.  That’s a lot of work to do if you know what I mean.  The work is not just packing and shipping, but there is much more to it.  Since the items are small in size and the weight is not that heavy, we use post office (USPS). If you have ever used USPS you will understand why I am mentioning it.  It creates lost of issues with mis-deliveries and lost packages, but let’s take everything step by step.  I will describe the process needed to keep up this business and you think about which part can be outsourced.

Placing orders and keeping Inventory

Managing Inventory
Managing Inventory

Placing orders can be done through order management softwares, but I like to do it manually.  I like to know what I am ordering and how many.  Sometimes I will sell an item that may never sell again, so by settings, software may order more than needed of that product.  As I already mentioned, I do not like to outsource this part of my business, so the answer is clear.

Printing Shipping Labels

It is a simple process that requires you to upload all the orders with shipping details to a software called Stamps.com.  Once uploaded, each order should be checked for weight in order not to overpay or underpay USPS.  Orders that are ready to be shipped should have their tracking numbers posted once the label is printed.  Fairly simple, but lots of time considering the amount of orders we get.  So, I do outsource it.  I hired someone from overseas through upwork.com and gave them access to one of my computers through Teamveiwer.  Temviewer is a software that allows someone else to get into your computer and use it.  So the person does all the posting, uploading, and printing.  We just collect the labels and label packages for shipping.  Easy, cost effective, and smart.

Shipping label Printer
Shipping label Printer

Taking Packages To USPS

Taking all the packages to drop off at one of the local USPS locations.  Not a bid deal, but again time consuming and lots of packages.  Physical work is not my favorite one.  So, we schedule pick ups for USPS through their website.  Mailman comes in everyday and picks up those packages ready to go.  Is that outsourcing? I would so and it is free!

Customer Support Through Phone, eMail, and Live Chat

Customer Support
Customer Support

We provide all three support systems for our customers in case they have any trouble with their order.  We also use the support system for pre-sale calls and questions.  Increases conversion rate and brings in more cash flow into the business.  So, while packing all the orders, it would not be fun to take all the calls.  My next move was again to go to upwork.com and get a virtual assistant who would perform all those three functions while I am busy taking care of packages.  Again, outsourcing, cheap and effective.  Customers are happy and we are happy.

Web, Banner, and Product Image Designs

I am familiar with photoshop and know how to use it, but i am too slow.  It takes me hours to create a nice banner.  Besides, I feel like I am wasting my time every time I try to create something like that.  We create banners for new products, events, holidays, and so on.  So we need them made quite often and we do not like using the same old one over and over again.  So, I go straight to Fiverr.com and get 1 banner done for $5. As a result I don’t have to spend hours and my banner will be made professionally.

Other Tasks

I do outsource as much functions as I can as they arise.  When you try to grow your business, you will face additional challenges that most of the time will only require your time.  But isn’t time is most valued currency in this world? As you can see from my example, I don’t just blindly outsource functions and positions.  I do it only when it makes sense.  I would argue that some functions should never be outsourced by the small business owners.  Because Benefits of outsourcing for home based businesses is also limited to an extent.  Keeping inventory is one such function and responsibility that should only be done by the owner.  Because you know your business best and keeping a good balance at hand is of outmost importance.

Conclusion

I have already made my conclusion and have been implementing it long before this post. Now it is your turn to think about which functions can you outsource? I am positive you will be able to find at least 30% of activities that you can hire someone from overseas and let them do it for you.  There are challenges of course.  You will need to fin the right people for the right price.  You have to think of the pay off and see if it makes sense for you.  I am positive that at least some things can be done by others.

If this post helped you run your eCommerce better, please like, share, and leave a comment below.

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We Review Most Popular Shopping Cart Softwares

Most Popular Shopping Cart Softwares

addtocartFor those who don’t know what shopping cart software is, I will briefly explain what it is and then we will get into the reviewing few of the most popular softwares out there.  Shopping cart software is a software that allows merchants to accept payments online by connecting to their merchant account. Shopping cart softwares that we will discuss here come with prebuilt website that includes everything a business needs: homepage, product page, contact us page, etc.  Besides having all the necessary components for a web store, they also come with hosting accounts, which means you will only pay for using the software and the company will host that software on their own servers.  That’s a shopping cart software in short. Now, lets get into the details of some of the most popular shopping cart softwares out there.

Which Shopping Cart Software is best for me?’

Shopping cart softwares are all different and are meant for different businesses.  It’s like asking which car is best for me, the answer would be depends on what your plan is for the car.  If you have a large family, an SUV or Mini-van would be the best choice.  It also depends on your budget.  So there is no one best answer to the question.  Nonetheless, we will review softwares that are most used by small starting websites as well as a platform that is used by big businesses as well as small.  Let’s start

Magento

it is an open source software, which means it is free to use by anyone and it is one of the most popular softwares for e-commerce out there.  Magento is used by small business as well as by large businesses.  But open source software comes with it’s own problems.  There is no customer support to call to if you have problems with the software.  You will need to read forums and blogs to find a fix to the problem and if you can not install apps correctly, you will need to get some help.  But, there is also great flexibility and freedom in using Magento if you are good at coding.  No other platform gives you as much as freedom as Magento, but everytime I used Magento, I had to get a developer to fix my issues and install my apps.  Also, Magento doesn’t come with hosting, but there are good hosting companies out there that have special plans for Magento stores.  Bluehost is one of the hosting solutions for Magento.  If your budget is large enough to afford hiring developers and you want lots of freedom to do whatever you want with your website, then go with Magento.  In case you do not want to do much customization to your store or add specific functionalities, then the following 2 softwares will better fit your needs.

Bigcommerce

It is a shopping cart software that comes ready out of the box.  It is not an open source software and you have to pay to use it, but the plans start at $30/month, so very affordable.   Even though it is not open source, it allows for customization of almost every page.  The limitation are that if the functionality is not built-in or if there is no app for the functionality you are looking for, then you can’t add it.  Other than that, I love everything about it.  With Bigcommerce you do not have to worry about glitches, because it comes installed with hosting and very good free themes.  For those who are starting out, the themes (designs) they offer for free are pretty good.  But as you grow, you will need to find a designer/developer from upward.com and get your store designed professionally.  If you have any problems with your site, there is always customer service agent standing by to help you, unlike Magento.  The final software we will discuss is the competitor of Bigcommerce and it is called Shopify.

Shopify

Shopify is exactly the same as Bigcommerce, but there are differences: monthly plans are different for example.  Depending on what level of software you are looking for, you might want to go with Shopify.  Since Bigcommerce stopped offering middle range plans, Shopify may be a fit for some of you.  I personally did not like Shopify for a simple reason of not being able to install my own SSL Certificate.  Big commerce allows third party SSL certificates for even the cheapest plan and it is a big deal for me.  Other than that, Shopify and Bigcommerce are exactly the same.  They both have app stores and have good quality apps that enhance the functionality of the website, good quality themes, and hosting is always working.  I will include a small chart where I compare all three of them side by side.

Comparison of Magento vs. Bigcommerce vs. Shopify
Comparison of Magento vs. Bigcommerce vs. Shopify

Other Shopping Cart Softwares

There are many other softwares, such as Volusion, Godaddy Shopping Cart, etc, but they are not as popular as those 3.  I have discussed the big players in the market, but if you do not agree with me, let me know and I will compare them side by side, and I have used and tried most shopping cart softwares.

There are some features that all of the softwares support, such as payment gateways.  Almost every platform can connect to your paypal account, so that customer will be able to checkout using their Paypal account and send money to your Paypal account.  Every platform supports Authorize.net payment gateway, Square, Stripe, and many other merchant accounts that are mostly used. My comparison shows you the most important features that differentiate them from one another.

Make Use of Free Trials

Free trials are available with every shopping cart software, so you can try them for yourself before paying for any of them.  Besides Magento, Bigcommerce and Shopify are designed with the user in mind.  All you gotta do is sign up for a free trial, upload all your products and images, update all the necessary pages, such as contact us page, and go live and starting ringing the register$$.

 

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successful eCommerce with small budget

Can I Start An Online Store With Little Budget?

small-budgeteCommerce Business Small Budget ?

In 2010 when I began my journey of building my ecommerce website in order to sell the products online, I stumbled upon hurdles that made me think it would require thousands of dollars to build one and get it going. Since then, I have built great websites for others and myself with very little budget that has brought income and created jobs. The myth is that you need to have a budget that will afford to hire professionals to run a website. When in fact, the main important factor in having a successful online business is to have an original idea and be a really good negotiator.

Small Budget Doesn’t Mean $0

When I say your budget doesn’t have to be large, I mean it doesn’t have to be over $500. That’s right, $500 will get you a lot and more in order for you to have a website that is stand alone, secure, trustable, and the one that will start bringing in revenue within very short time. If you are the person who already has a product idea or maybe even had some sales through marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and many others, you are the perfect candidate to start your own website and start a new chapter of independence where you control your traffic, sales, and profits.

Why I Don’t Like Marketplaces

There are many places such as eBay and Amazon where you can start selling and those are great places to start. The problem with those platforms is that you have very little control over the entire process of establishing a business. Marketplaces take away a big chunk of your sales, which tremendously decreases the profit margins, one negative feedback from a scam customer will ruin your entire business, and you are at the mercy of eBay and Amazon, because they will suspend your account at any time they want. Now, if you are one of those who already experienced just that or someone who is so far successful, remember sooner or late there will come a time when platforms will get rid of you.

Gain Control Over Your Business

The beauty of building your own website allows you to build a brand. A brand that will be remembered by your customers and a brand that may become a household name sometime in the future. Obviously there are many aspects to the business that makes it successful. For instance, customer service quality and the ability for your customer to have a painless return process is something that will decide whether your website is successful. I will write separate posts regarding the importance of taking care of your customers, but here I would like to concentrate on how to get started and provide you with all the free and cheap resources for you to get started. Everything you will find on this website is free information that is aimed at helping people who are looking to become self employed and maybe even create some jobs.

My Story

One of my ecommerce websites brings in over $1 million in revenue every year and I didn’t spend much money on building it, but it took a lot of time and work on my side. It took me a lot of time, because I had to find all the resources myself in order to make a great website with very little money. My posts will help those who have very little knowledge and experience on how to build an ecommerce website where your customers will be able to visit, shop, and make purchases from you. I will also break down all the necessary knowledge and steps you need to take for product ideas and finding suppliers in china.   Besides having a product idea or having great suppliers in china, you will need to be passionate about starting your online store and believe strongly in your ability to do so. In the next post I will write and break down the costs of building a website that is ready to start accepting orders. I will give you all the resources you need to know and how to set your business up for success.

Stay Real & Be Successful

There are other places where they tell their readers that they don’t need money to start a business, but I like to stay real. My advice will take some of your time and you will spend some money on starting a business. You will spend your money on legitimate items and services and I do not sell those services or items. I will simply recommend you what I know works best and you be the one to decide whether you want to use them or their competitors. If you would like to start, just click here to read my next post where all the breakdowns will be provided. Please note that not everything will cost you money. There are services that are offered for free and are vital for your online business and without them you will not be able to achieve anything in the online world. I will speak about those services here and how to get them.

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