As a growing small business or as an entrepreneur, the focus tends to stay on delivering the fundamental offerings of the business and within the owner’s given expertise. Long-term plans for growth and profitability are regularly overshadowed by the realities of winning new clients, meeting deadlines, and maintaining cash flow. As a result, efforts to improve the bottom line can often focus solely on expanding into new products or services, or on hiring additional personnel in an effort to streamline processes and increase revenues. Meanwhile, opportunities to pursue outsourcing and collaboration can be relegated to the bucket of “future opportunities” as owners’ fear losing control or feel they’re not large enough to collaborate on an even footing.
In reality, the results achieved through outsourcing and collaboration frequently prove quite successful for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Whether your business is considering outsourcing work to a third-party provider, or collaborating with a company in a related field to offer bundled or related services, there are multiple paths to achieving expansion and growth. Some benefits include:
- Saving Time and Money – If your business currently uses internal resources to perform non-core related activities, outsourcing allows you to reclaim those lost man-hours, which can be reallocated to core offerings and/or introducing new or complementary services.
- Offering New Products – Collaboration offers smaller companies a viable path to scale up without the usual drain on resources. For example, working with a partner to produce one portion of your product on an on-demand basis rather than a purchasing and pre-paying for a set amount of product may lead to a reduction in per-unit costs or inventory-carrying costs, which equates to increased profits and improved delivery based on “just-in-time” processing.
- Focusing on Core Competencies – Are there aspects of your business that are necessary, yet have no relation to the core competencies that differentiate you from competitors? If the answer is “yes”, then you are likely investing valuable opportunity costs in order to save money short-term. Opening the door to outsourcing and collaboration to delegate secondary tasks to companies that can do the same thing faster and more efficiently allows you to focus on your primary offering, resulting in improved morale, reclaimed resources, and likely to improved cash flow.
As an example of the above, consider accounts receivable. If you are printing and mailing your invoices, statements or general correspondence in-house, chances are that you’re pulling resources away from other revenue-generating activities to print, fold, insert, and meter (or stamp) your outbound mail. These are relatively menial tasks that can more easily and efficiently be handled by an outsourcing firm. Another area to consider is pre-printed forms. If your product or service involves the delivery of some type of pre-printed material consider moving to an on-demand environment, which eliminates the need to print and store pre-printed material. Both of these considerations put resources that would normally be used for manual tasks back into a productive, core-contributing activity.
Until recently, both activities—print and mail and the production and warehousing of pre-printed materials—were highly affected by quantities, with economies of scale only afforded to those companies with larger volumes. With the advent of the Internet, traditional outsourcing companies began to experience significant competition from web-based services and product offerings. The resulting movement in the pendulum now means that economies of scale are available to virtually any type of organization and to organizations of any size.
Print-to-mail is one of those Internet-based service offerings. Where print and mail companies require you to send raw data and often require an extensive conversion process, print-to-mail companies take exactly what you send them, co-mingling your files with other companies of similar complexity and scope, thus building economies one client at a time. These companies often enable small businesses to leverage services that would otherwise not be affordable. In some instances, these print-to-mail companies will also develop customized solutions for you based upon your needs and assist you in moving to an on-demand, just-in-time business model. The end results, with respect to either solution, are increased efficiency, improved economies of scale, reduced expenditures for menial tasks, and a boost in overall employee morale as your employees are focused on their core competencies instead of stuffing envelopes.
What are print-to-mail services?
In an earlier post, we explained the differences between print-to-mail and print and mail services, but in short, print-to-mail services offer traditional printing and mailing services via the internet, allowing small- and medium -sized businesses to outsource their mailing processes. The efficiencies gained by outsourcing your mail processes not only save you money but also allow your employees to focus on their core competencies.
Tim Furr, Director, Business Development
MailXStream is an online print-to-mail service that allows you to control the important parts of the print-and-mail process–your document content and format–with the rest of the nuance and tedium left to MailXStream. For more information, check out mailxstream.com or reach out to us.