No matter how small your business starts out, there are always going to be more to-do’s on your list than you have the time to complete. That’s why you have to get smart about outsourcing the work that doesn’t require your signature touch. Essential to running a lifestyle business is recognizing your core competencies and focusing on them. It’s important to remember that just because you can do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should be doing it.
By focusing on what you do well and outsourcing the day-to-day, specialized, or behind the scenes tasks, you can accelerate the growth of your business. Now, you just have to find the right people!
As your business is location independent, it makes sense to hire virtual contractors. The ability to hire anyone in the world means that you can find the best talent available, and often, their online profiles will include reviews from previous clients or employers.
When Should You Outsource?
As we discussed in Top 3 ways to Reduce Your Time and Get More Done With Less, you should only be doing tasks that are your Core competency and to which you personally can provide additional value. With that said, there are three main reasons to outsource:
1) Your time can be put to better and higher use, i.e. the day-to-day tasks of your business are consuming so much of your time that you can’t focus on growth, or you can hire someone else at a much lower rate and achieve the same, or better results
2) You need additional help with a temporary project that doesn’t warrant the hiring of a full-time employee
3) You need expert help in an area that isn’t your specialty
On sites like Odesk and Elance, you can find freelancers in a variety of industries, from copywriting and web design to bookkeeping and marketing consultants. As the sites are open to everyone, you have to determine who the best fit is for your business. There are a number of ways to narrow down your search and locate the perfect candidate.
1. Write a detailed job description
By being specific about what skills you’re looking for and the requirements of the job. By being clear on your expectations right from the beginning, you’re more likely to find someone who is confident in their ability to get the job done. There will also be less communication problems during the project, which would greatly slow down your workflow.
2. Look for a Portfolio
If you’re hiring a writer, graphic designer, or someone in another creative field, look for evidence of their work. It’s especially important to see if they’ve worked within your industry before or if their previous work closely aligns with what you’re looking for. Someone can do great work but it may not be right for your business. Look for someone that resonates with your voice, tone, and values.
3. Read Reviews
Reviews will be particularly helpful if you’re looking to hire someone where evidence of their work isn’t readily available, like accountants or marketing consultants. On both Elance and oDesk, freelancer profiles include reviews from previous employers. Look to see if they completed work on time, understood directions and delivered exceptional quality.
4. Make Sure Communication Won’t Be An Issue
Many of the contractors come from other countries. I believe this is a great thing, that we are able to tap into a global network of resources, but you need to make sure that language and time zone differences won’t be an issue. Many of the contractors are half way around the world and they will be working on exact opposite time zones. Make sure that this will not be an issue. Many contractors will ensure you have a few hours when you will both be awake to discuss your project. Additionally, sites like oDesk have English proficiency test results that will give you an idea of their language skills. Also, look for contractors that are willing to communicate with you using Skype. If you take the time to find the right people and allow for the time zone differences, this won’t be an issue. I use many people from around the world including the U.S., Ukraine, Spain, Italy, India, and Pakistan and have formed long-term relationships with those that I work best with.
Finally, the success of outsourcing depends on you. Be sure that when you outsource tasks, that you don’t give carte blanche control and responsibility to someone else. Remember, it is still your business and you need to monitor the activities of your contractors, just as you would your employees. If you have other employees, consider letting them manage contractors so that you are free to focus on other areas of your business.
Do you outsource tasks in your business?