We have recently been exploring the subject of outsourcing and how this can benefit busy people. We asked successful small businesswoman Carole who owns AlphaBake Cookery about her experience.
1. When did you start your business?
I started my business back in 2003, originally called Cookies for little cooks that love to bake yummy things like biscuits! It seemed appropriate! These were the days before healthy eating really hit home, Jamie Oliver wasn’t on the bookshelf and mums really didn’t like the little ones in the kitchen making a mess! As far as I am aware, we were one of the first cookery schools in our field.
2. What has been the best thing about starting your business?
The best thing about my business has to be the difference I have made to many people’s lives. Alongside working for myself, setting my own goals, making my own money, deciding what roads to take, if you ask me what the best thing is you will be met with a huge smile. I have seen people with so little confidence in themselves that have learnt, grown and developed into confident people, just through cooking! For example, Jamie who has Asperger’s. I taught him for 10 years and he is now working in a Michelin Star restaurant in London and gained an A* in catering when he was told he would never manage anything academic. Or Trevor, an ex-addict who I worked with for 10 weeks through a charity programme. He has now enrolled on a full time college course. These are just a few of the reasons I love my job and I am smiling as I am typing this!
3. What has been the hardest thing about starting/running your own business?
The hardest thing, if I am totally honest, is the lack of time I have had for my family. I have juggled well, but I do find myself continuously on the computer or running workshops during holiday times instead of days out with them. I managed this by trying to involve my children, either joining in or helping in the kitchen. My younger two actually argue over whose turn it is to help out! I have learnt you need to mark days out in the diary to have family time and not let work completely take over. It is in your control, but when it is your business it is very hard to say no when the demand is there.
4. How and when did you decide outsourcing was right for you?
I have never been very good at delegating. However, over the years I have learnt that outsourcing is not just ‘giving somebody the jobs you don’t want to do’! It actually saves so much time, money and effort! I could waste a lot of time trying to do something that somebody else could do in half the time and much better than I could do myself. Initially I started outsourcing my marketing and this made so much difference to my business. It is important that my material looks good as it reflects on what I am offering. By outsourcing to a professional it saved me a lot of time and money. I have continued to outsource to other professionals including my accountant, web designer and my IT manager. All have helped ensure my business runs smoothly and to a higher level.
Last year I made the decision to franchise the business; this was a huge decision as although I have successfully run the business as a sole trader for 13 years, I have no knowledge of franchising or what the role of a Franchisor is. Regardless of exhibitions, books, internet etc. I would not be in the position to launch this summer if it hadn’t been for outsourcing. I have relied heavily on advice for outsourcing. I outsourced a Franchise Consultant to guide me in the right direction. However, there were still a number of ‘grey’ areas for me including the social media and pulling together the Operations Manual to name a few. I was spending a lot of time finding out how to do things rather than doing it until I met Nicola from Pink Spaghetti who has been fantastic. Together we created a plan of things I can do and things to outsource. Nicola has helped me to learn the things I need to learn and has taken over things that I can outsource. I feel I am in very capable hands and I am confident that we are heading in the right direction. Without outsourcing I would still be chasing my tail.
5. Has what you outsourced originally grown beyond the initial ‘job’?
I rely totally on everything I have outsourced. Graphic designers, accountant, IT providers etc. are now all part of the business. Nicola from Pink Spaghetti will grow with me too. The bigger the franchise, the more outsourcing I will need. I cannot imagine not outsourcing. In fact, I may need to get an extra desk!
6. What made you choose outsourcing instead of an employee?
By outsourcing you are only hiring for the jobs and hours that you need. You are recruiting experts to do a job in a number of hours. To recruit an employee you may find that you do not need that person all the time and it is a huge commitment.
7. What do you think are the main benefits you have seen for your business from outsourcing?
Personally I feel the main benefits from outsourcing have been the level of service. The jobs I had on my to-do list have been completed better than I could do myself, which in return has saved time and money while making the business look more professional.
8. What do you think others need to consider when thinking about outsourcing?
How well you can do the job and who could do it better. If you feel you can do the job but it would save you time and effort (bit like outsourcing your cleaning), then it is worth doing. If it is a job that can be done better than you can do, then without doubt, it is in the business’s interests to outsource.
AlphaBake Cookery franchises are now available across the UK. We would like to wish Carole every luck with this new venture.
For further information visit Alpha Bake Cookery.