Outsourcing projects and tasks is an expensive undertaking that can only be done by big businesses with large budgets, right?
Technology has made it easier and more affordable than ever for entrepreneurs and small- to mid-sized businesses to outsource pretty much anything.
And while your entrepreneurial spirit probably tells you that you can and should do everything yourself, that might not be your most time- and cost-conscious approach.
Why is outsourcing a valuable move?
Think about it this way. You started your business to offer a product or service that you specialize in. But there’s more to running your business than just the product or service you offer.
Social media. Web design. Graphic design. Administrative tasks. Marketing. Research.
Eventually, you’re most likely going to encounter any combinations of three common situations:
- You’ll have more work to do each day than you have hours to get it done
- You’ll end up pulled in so many directions that you’ll lose focus on your primary zone of genius and everything will suffer
- You’ll realize that you don’t have the expertise necessary to do all of these things really well but also don’t have time to learn how to do them all well enough
While you can bring on employees to handle some of this stuff, in-house experts in these fields charge a premium. And even when you’re building an all-star team, there might still be a gap between having too much work for them to handle on their own but not enough to justify another hire.
On the other hand, outsourcing to experts — whether domestically or overseas — on an ad-hoc basis will allow you to get high-quality work at much more affordable prices.
And don’t worry. It can be done easily and efficiently.
8 tips to help make outsourcing easy and effective
If you’ve never outsourced a project or task before, it can be intimidating trying to find and enlist someone who will deliver high-quality work.
Here’s how to do it.
- Know what you need done and by when — Before you start looking to outsource, make sure you know exactly what you need done and when you need it by. It’s wise to write a full, comprehensive brief in advance that outlines all key details and project parameters so that you can make sure you’re finding the perfect fit and then get your new outsourced partner onboarded quickly.
- Treat it as an investment for the long-term — If you’ve had a need once, chances are you’ll have it again. So, don’t treat the outsourcing process as a one-off. Instead, invest the time in finding somebody who’s suitable as a long-term partner so that you don’t need to go through it all over again. Once you’ve found somebody, make sure to keep in contact for future opportunities.
- Review samples and portfolios — Always make sure to thoroughly review samples and portfolios from freelancers or outsourced partners. It’s your right to make sure you’re hiring somebody with the right skills for the job, so always make these items a prerequisite.
- Research the best pricing for your needs — Whether you’re outsourcing domestically or to somebody overseas, there’s one thing you can be sure of: you’re going to get what you pay for. While a domestic freelancer will likely charge more than one in other popular outsourcing markets, like China, Vietnam, the Philippines, or India, among many others, you can count on the fact that their pricing will indicate their value. Whatever market you plan to outsource to, do your research to see what the pricing scale is for similar services in that area and pick one that aligns with your needs.
- Expect a learning curve — Just the same as when you hire a new employee, you can expect a learning curve with outsourced partners. The reality is that they will always need to get up to speed with your brand, your way of working, and how you like to communicate, so give a little leeway in the beginning.
- Pick your methods of communication — On that note, make sure to establish your preferred methods of communication from the outset. Will you stick to email correspondence, connect for recurring video calls on a platform like Zoom, or stay in constant contact using instant messaging tools like Slack? You might also find that you’re required to communicate strictly through the tool you use to outsource (more to come on that.) Whatever you decide, it’s important to establish it early and stick with it.
- Determine payment schedules in advance — Unlike salaried employees, outsourced partners will, for the most part, be paid on a per-job basis. So, make sure you agree on payment terms before beginning work to ensure you’re protected. This could be something like a 50% deposit and the remaining 50% paid upon completion of the project.
- Keep everything in writing — It’s always wise to keep a paper trail for all communications, just to be on the safe side. Everything from project details to payment terms and onboarding communication should be done by email to ensure everyone stays on the same page. If you discuss things on a video call, either record it or send a follow-up note to recap.
Now that you understand how to outsource, the next most important question is where.
3 great tools for outsourcing work
The internet is full of ways to find partners you can outsource to. But there are a few that are known as the most reliable.
Upwork — From web and mobile development to design, writing, admin support customer service, marketing, accounting, and more, Upwork makes it easy to find talent from all around the world. This platform has stringent screening measures in place so that it delivers you a select list of hand-picked candidates.
Fiverr — Fiverr’s is the world’s largest marketplace for digital services, connecting businesses with freelancers in over 300 categories. With Fiverr, you can browse the entire selection of available options in each category until you find the right one for your needs.
Guru — With more than 1.5 million “gurus” available to help with any technical, creative, or business projects you have on the table, you’re sure to find who you’re looking for here. Each freelancer has a profile filled with their previous work so you can hire with confidence.
Outsourcing work can be a great option for entrepreneurs, solo professionals, and small- to mid-sized businesses. Take your time, get organized, and be diligent and you’ll be able to find a partner who makes your life a lot easier.
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