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otherwise take up large amounts of your time. Sometimes specific activities are outsourced to individuals.

Case Study: Gourmet Outsourcing

Gourmet Gatherings, the unique San Francisco–based culinary entertainment company mentioned earlier, uses extreme outsourcing so that the firm has the capacity to host in excess of 100 events annually without any other full-time employees. This innovative business provides high-end culinary entertainment evenings for corporate and private events. The company contracts with some of the city’s finest chefs to lead guests in preparing their own food. Then the attendees are served the gourmet meal they have cooked themselves. The company is growing rapidly and is profitable.

Shannan Bishop, one partner, states that since their busi-ness’s inception, the two owners have come to view themselves as “conducting a symphony of specialists.” Today, Bishop and Bibby Gignilliat, the other founding partner, focus on their innovative menu, marketing, and ways of growing the business. Although they oversee the business itself, they have systematized the activities involved in events to the point that they don’t need to attend each event.

Gourmet Gatherings uses a sophisticated mix of technology and part-time contractors (who handle specialized tasks) to run their business: Inbound sales information calls (which are generated through the Web site and word of mouth) are handled by a trained off-site contractor; a separate off-site contractor handles scheduling; and yet another trained contractor responds to e-mail inquiries. In many cases, these contractors are themselves running go-it-alone businesses that specialize in providing these services to multiple companies.

Shannan Bishop has created detailed manuals for how the people staffing Gourmet Gatherings events, from fine chefs to

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.