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Pradeep Khurana, cofounder and managing director of ContinuServe, shares his insight into outsourcing and finding stability in turbulent times with StartupNation readers in this Q&A.
1. How have you seen the need for outsourcing change within the last couple years, with the Great Resignation and pandemic as drivers?
In regard to the pandemic, a couple of different trends occurred. Initially, our clients were focused on just keeping their businesses stable and not make drastic changes by either terminating, changing or starting new outsourcing initiatives. Once things settled down and clients saw how that remote work was so feasible, there is now more of push to try and outsource different kinds of tasks that were previously not in scope for outsourcing.
In regard to the Great Resignation, there is definitely a driver to increase outsourcing simply because it is difficult to fill some of the open positions and to also remove some of the headache of dealing with so much attrition. This was especially true in late 2021 and earlier this year. This trend has slowed to some extent as the economy has slowed.
2. What positions/jobs should a startup or small business consider outsourcing? What outsourced work is most cost-effective?
Early in the startup process, there is typically a heavy reliance on outside vendors simply because there are limited internal resources. So, most startups work with various vendors for different things including legal, HR, back office work (payroll, accounting, etc.), IT, and even things like marketing and product development. I think all of those are smart areas for entrepreneurs to leverage vendors/outsourcers/third parties.
3. Tell us about your entrepreneurship efforts and what lessons you’ve learned along the way.
I’ve learned so many lessons, and still learn so many lessons every day. Some that are currently top of mind:
- Create the right DNA early on. This means think hard about the culture you want to build. It also means thinking hard about your initial hires as they will be passing the genes as your grow.
- Don’t start scaling until you’re ready to start scaling. That means make sure you have an economically feasible sales strategy that works. That is a prerequisite before you should start pouring money into sales, marketing expansion, etc.
Make sure your employees understand who really pays the bills and pays them. That is your customers. That’s who everyone works for.
4. Purpose-driven businesses seem to be in the zeitgeist right now. What are the challenges to balancing purpose with being profitable What are ways a startup can be purpose-driven when money is tight?
I think having employees focus on profits is too far removed from their daily work and it’s really hard to build a sustainable culture around money. Building a purpose-driven business can be tied to an employee’s daily work and also help the company make profits. For example, at our company, our purpose is oriented around doing a great job for our clients. We believe if our clients succeed, our success will follow. So, have a purpose and making profits don’t have to be mutually exclusive goals.
5. What advice would you give an entrepreneur during this time of supply chain difficulties and staffing issues?
My advice would be to get your hustle on. This is what entrepreneurs do best. Figuring out the critical path and being able to quickly figure out how to get there is key. For supply chain issues, start diversifying your suppliers, figure out where you might need to be less “just-in-time” and maybe keep a little extra inventory on hand. See how you can use automation to maybe move some manufacturing from low-cost countries to closer geographical locations. For staffing issues, tap resources globally. Maybe hire more junior resources and invest more in training. All of these are things we are seeing our clients exploring and executing on.