The First Service Providers To Hire For Your Business
Service provider relationship management covers a wide range of operational tasks from finance to legal to technology. For many businesses, it is more effective to outsource certain operational tasks to third-parties and vendors (“providers”), than to handle in-house — especially if your team is small. By leveraging expert providers, you can save time and money where the task can be performed at a lower cost externally. Here are the common providers you’ll want to enlist to streamline your business.
1. Primary Operations
Your “Primary Operations” are generally expenses needed before you launch or expand. Bringing in outside expertise for these tasks allows you to save money right from the start of your organizational planning.
- Accountant/Administrator — Manages your critical financial and cash reconciliation functions, used in making important business decisions. Your accountant may also suggest you use expense management tools to track day-to-day spending.
(e.g., QuickBooks, Expensify, Xero, part-time CFO)
- Legal Counsel — Leads your business formation and documentation, plus regulatory requirements in many cases.
(e.g., Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom, established law firms)
- Bank — Holds your business banking cash accounts and corporate credit card needed to facilitate the money movements and financial transactions between you and your customers, investors, and other providers.
(e.g., Brex, Mercury, American Express, Stripe, Square)
- Work Space — A physical space to conduct business, which can be used as a temporary location instead of buying/leasing an office.
(e.g., Werqwise, Breather, WeWork, sharing space with peers)
- Travel — Transportation costs related to your business, especially while fundraising or doing sales. Be mindful that travel can become one of your largest expenses in your business’s early stages.
(e.g., Leverage airline/hotel discounts and rewards programs)
- Virtual Assistant — A virtual scheduler to set up meetings and optimize your time, especially if you do not have an in-house employee running your office admin.
(e.g., Calendly, X.ai, Zirtual)
- Cloud Document Storage — Holds your legal documents, valuations, and other financial information, for ease of search. Be sure to consider privacy-related obligations, for example if you need specific passwords or restricted ownership rights.
(e.g., Box, Dropbox, Google Drive)
- CRM — Software that manages and tracks customer and partner relationships, to organize your outreach.
(e.g., Affinity, Airtable, Pipedrive)
- Document Sharing — Platform to send, share, and track the opening of documents such as your pitch deck, which removes unnecessary password obstacles for the audience.
(e.g., DocSend, Slideshare, WeTransfer)
- E-signatures — Collects electronic signatures and other information. Use this to sign legal documents like customer contracts or investor term sheets.
(e.g., DocuSign, HelloSign, Adobe Sign)
- Password Manager — Stores multiple passwords and protects against the unauthorized use of information, especially electronic data.
(e.g., 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass)
- Designer for Materials — A professional designer creating your pitch deck, logo, business cards, and in many cases your website for the purpose of marketing. You may also try a copywriter to refine language.
(e.g., Design: 99 Designs, SketchDeck, Tractor.io // Copywriting: Scripted, Upwork)
- Website — A web page conveying your business’s brand to customers and investors, while also instructing your audience how to reach or follow you.
(e.g., Squarespace, WordPress, WIX)
- Social Media & Online Presence — Shares general information, perspectives, or recent articles about your business to maintain engagement with your current and potential customers. Be sure to register your business’s name with each platform early.
(e.g., LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, AngelList, Crunchbase)
- Business Email — A professional email address where customers can reach you, as communication is the cornerstone of your operations.
(e.g., Google G-Suite, Microsoft Office 365, GoDaddy, Rackspace)
2. Maintenance Operations
Your “Maintenance Operations” are expenses that should be considered after your initial business launch. Outsourcing your maintenance operations helps you scale faster as you hire more team members.
- Productivity & Collaboration Tools — Task management platforms for personal and team matters, which keeps email volume down and allows you store data and institutional knowledge as you grow.
(e.g., Asana, Slack, Trello)
- Internet & Telecom — High speed internet gives you abundant bandwidth especially while video-conferencing or making remote calls. Virtual office phones give you capabilities to separate your personal vs. work lines and send texts to achieve higher response rates.
(e.g., Internet: Sonic, Xfinity // Telecom: Google Voice, Grasshopper, Ooma)
- Payroll & HR Services — Pays out wages and benefits, which streamlines your compensation information. Consider enlisting one after adding your first employee for a maternity/paternity policy, 401(k), or employee handbook, etc.
(e.g., Gusto, Rippling, Paychex, Trinet)
- Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (“FF&E”) — Supplies, movable furniture, or other equipment used for ordinary workflow such as desks, chairs, and printers.
(e.g., Knoll, Houzz, Feather Furniture, Ikea)
- Insurance — Business insurance that protects you and your business from financial loss.
(e.g., Embroker, Hiscox, CoverHound)
3. Growth Operations
Your “Growth Operations” are expenses that may arise as your business continues to expand.
- Job Boards — Posts open jobs at your business and tracks candidates to automate your hiring process.
(e.g., LinkedIn, AngelList, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter)
- Audit & Tax — Examines your business’s accounting books and tax returns, which your investors may require depending on your industry.
(e.g., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Kruze Consulting)
- Public Relations (“PR”) — Manages the spread of marketing information about your business. Be sure to leverage any journalists or other industry writers in your own network first.
(e.g., Onclusive, Mention, Cision)
Be prepared to oversee various providers for your business as you launch and grow. With each operational task decide whether or not to outsource, and make sure you understand what the provider requires from you to integrate into your platforms. Excellent service provider management could make the difference between a smooth-running operation and missed opportunities.
• The 10-Point Checklist to Launch Your Business
• 12 Steps to Scale a Business
• How to Calculate Market Size
• 7 Steps To Assess Your Competition
• Competitive Advantages That Last
• Finding The Right Customer Profile
• How To Measure Results
• Know Your Niche & Costs
• Developing a Go-to-Market Plan (GTM)
• 4 Steps of Customer Discovery Before You Launch
Pitch Decks & Messaging
• How to Make a Pitch Deck for Your Fund
• How to Write an Investor Update (With Example)
• How to Write a One Pager
• 9 Easy Steps to Build Your Company’s Messaging
• How to Make a Great Pitch Deck
• 3-Month Fundraising Plan — Priced Equity Round
• A Simple Way to Track Your Business Finances
• The First Service Providers To Hire For Your Business
• Who Should You Hire Next?
• Customer Service Basics
• Save Your Business in 60 Days: Cutting Costs — Part 1
• Helpful Tips for Better Operations
• 5 Ways to Productize Your Business
• The Importance of Denouncing Racism
Photo by Josh Calabrese