Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Outsourcing Without Upsetting Lou Dobbs

I don’t know how many times I’ve flipped through the channels and heard Lou Dobbs talking about “Exporting America.” Now, I know Lou is discussing the political and economic context of American companies outsourcing their jobs overseas. However, this new one-dimensional definition of outsourcing has other implications to some of us in the States.

I am no expert on politics, economics or Lou Dobbs, so I’ll keep my opinions on those subjects to myself. However, what I would like to discuss is the negative connotation that the word “outsourcing” has taken on in this country.

There are thousands upon thousands of small businesses in this country whose sole survival depends on other companies outsourcing their needs. Just think about it for a moment. How many companies in the service industries only exist to support the needs of other businesses?

Imagine if every company had to act as a fully self-sufficient corporation. They must handle all of their own HR issues…no more employment agencies, payroll companies, etc. They must employ a full-fledged IT department to handle all of their own web design, networking, software and database designs. Each enterprise has to have enough administrative assistants, data entry specialists, desktop publishing experts, marketing gurus. The list is endless.

If American companies were to completely eliminate all forms of outsourcing, life as we know it would end!

Now, we all know that this is not what Lou or anybody else who has defined outsourcing as one of the most popular buzz words of the last few years is talking about. I understand that most people know that the business to business outsourcing within America is not a bad thing. Nonetheless, it seems strange to me that one word can take on such a life of its own. It’s really not a new phenomenon, yet it is the first time that I’ve encountered one of these controversial terms in my own ventures.

Let me say that as a business person in a field that is solely based on other businesses looking to my company to meet their needs, I find myself quite often searching for synonyms to outsourcing. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but when I’m advertising, I’m forever brainstorming for words to replace that one that starts with o and ends with source! After all the talk that’s been spinning around Washington and the rest of the country, it seems that it’s turned into a dirty word.

Obviously, most people understand that there are all types of outsourcing. On the other hand, when you’ve got limited time and space are you going to choose a “hot button” word to describe what you’re selling?

Dana Wallert is the owner of DW Office Solutions, an online virtual assistance company. She has many years experience in sales, non-profit fundraising, as well as office management.