Home-sourcing, Off-shoring & Exporting America

As the title may suggest to you this post is going to be about outsourcing, two very different types of outsourcing.

Off-shoring, I my mind this is all about having work for your business done in India, China, Eastern Europe and so on. The promise is that you get work done for your business and that it is very cost effective or even very cheap – but is it?

Lou Dobbs from CNN is lamenting “Exporting America” – partly driven by short sighted Venture Capitalists – is hurting the American economy and in my opinion he is right to a certain degree. But more than that it is also counter productive for the “exporters” in many cases.

In my experience some work can be done very effectively, but most of the time I found that you actually get what you pay for. There are problems with language, culture and time difference, to name but a few. Calculate all these factors in and you will find it is not cheap and may not even be very cost-effective, I certainly believe the scope of work that can be done this way is very limited.

What about home-sourcing? Here you have people working from home, often looking after the kids or other family-members, who can only work part-time and demand a higher hourly rate – if that is what you think – than you could be very wrong, let us look at the facts.

Consider for example how many women go to university and then later in life look after their children at home. Consider the “amount” of expertise and professionalism sitting at home. In the G7 countries we “import” experts and professionals every year – my question to you is why are we doing this if we have all these “untapped” resources sitting at home. Now consider all women with all the other professions or work experience sitting at home.

You may believe that it is difficult to integrate these “home-worker” into any work force or these people do not want to work. Than you would be wrong again – more than 60% of women at home would love to stay in touch with their profession on a part-time basis.This is the early result from a survey we are undertaking among pregnant women – more on these findings in about four weeks.

Given the right work environment these “Home Workers” could and would work. Especially in more rural areas you could get very good value for your money.

My point is given the constrains you have off-shoring, you may find that you get better value for money if you think about a “home-sourcing” strategy. More and more virtual assistants get online and offer their services, in the US over 18 million home businesses exist and that number is likely to double in the next decade.

Government need to provide the tax framework for large scale self-employment and cut red-tape wherever possible to allow our economies to benefit from the investments our society has made by providing the education for our “home-experts” and “home-professionals”.

As a final thought here, I would like to add that it is my believe our society as a whole and local communities, will greatly benefit from people working from home, as for the first time since the industrial revolution some 150 years ago, we can see a trend of people moving out of cities, back to their home towns and setting up small businesses. This in turn has positive implications for our environment, traffic situation in most big cities and for the social well-being of our countries.

Could the multi-generation household be coming back, helping with problems like child-care or care for the elderly – that would be a generation contract of the “human” kind. In this context it is worth remembering we all decide every day in what kind of society we live, by how we spend our money as consumers or what kind of decisions we take as CEOs and small business owners.

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