How do I get the expertise I need without hiring a full-time employee?

By Erik Owen

Many small and mid-sized businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water these days.  Doing business has gotten harder and management teams are stretched thin.  How do I get ahead in this environment?  How do I know if I’m executing the right plan?  What should come first?  How am I doing?

These questions can be tough in a normal economy.  In today’s economy, it is even harder to answer them.  Who has the time to sit and ponder these questions, or research an answer to a challenging issue?

  • What if there were professionals that could help answer your questions?
  • What if you could hire them on an as-needed basis?
  • What if they were affordable?

Outsourcing has been a business mainstay for some time now.  Businesses like Johnson Controls have stepped in to outsource building maintenance services, and manufacturing of car interiors.  And the construction industry has used subcontractors seemingly forever to balance workload and risk while enhancing expertise.  Businesses also find that bringing in professionals outside the organization has the added benefit of getting new or fresh ideas to solving problems that might not happen with entrenched employees.

Small and mid-sized businesses need expertise that they often can’t afford on a full-time basis.  As they grow, those needs become even more acute.  This is where outsourcing of management positions makes sense.  When the finances get more complicated than your accounting manager can handle, you can bring in a contract CFO.  When you need leadership for your sales team, you can bring in a contract Sales Manager.  When your operations needs outgrow your brother-in-law, you can bring in a contract VP of Operations.  And so on…

How do I select an outsourcing partner?

Picking a partner in business is a challenging endeavor.   You should step carefully and consider who you would be willing to hire.  In many ways this is like hiring any key employee.  Here are five key criteria to consider when selecting an outsourcing partner:

Functional Expertise – The contractor you select should have the technical expertise to execute the tasks that you need done.

Seasoning – Hopefully most of the people you meet will have a strong technical background, but do they have the experience of actually doing the type of work you need?  You need to select a partner with experienced people who have done the job before and have been successful.

Cultural Fit – Just like the employees you hire, your outsourcing partner should fit into the culture of your management team and your business.

Integrity – As you are going to trust this partner with management responsibly, you need to have confidence that they will follow your directions even when you are not around.

Teamwork – They may have the functional expertise, the seasoning, and even cultural fit & integrity, but can they play on the team?  Many functional experts can only play well if they lead.  Also, your business needs may grow over time.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a partner that brings all the other areas plus teamwork with expertise across the different functional areas?

Putting a great team together is hard work.  Ask any coach, business leader, or committee chair.  Partnering with the right people can make all the difference!

Oak Hill Business Partners is a professional services firm serving small and mid-sized businesses.  Oak Hill provides Growth Management Services, Mergers & Acquisitions Support, and Turnaround Solutions.

Erik Owen is the President of Oak Hill Business Partners and has over 20 years of professional experience in Finance and Accounting, Administration, and General Management.  You can call Erik at 414.852.0015 or email him at

Posted by Erik Owen