If you have been running a business for a while, you must be familiar with the I-am-working-all-the-time-but-nothing-really-gets-done feeling. You're not alone. We are all struggling to find that perfect balance between running a successful business and being super women!
In India, we usually have household helps to do the daily chores. Actually you can do everything that your maid does. You do not hire her because you cannot do something. You hire her because you would rather use your time doing something else which is more productive to you. That, my friends, is exactly what outsourcing is.
Keep reading to know what exactly is outsourcing, what tasks can you outsource, how it will help your business and how you can find the perfect person for the job!
What is outsourcing when it comes to small businesses?
In business, outsourcing involves the contracting out of a business process and operational, and/or non-core functions to another party. That means, that you can pay someone to do some of your work without actually having them on your payroll. This is a very effective option when you do not have enough tasks, to be done by someone else, to justify paying a monthly salary to one person working full time for you. This is different from collaboration or partnership - where both parties are equal. Here it is more-or-less a employee-employer kind of situation.
What tasks can you outsource?
It basically depends on your requirement. What are the tasks in your business that you cannot keep up with? Is it answering emails? Shipping out orders? Or is it book keeping? You can easily outsource these and many more tasks to the right person. When you outsource management related tasks it is usually to a VA (Virtual Assistant).They could be in your city or even on the other side of the world! Here's a list of tasks that you can outsource to a Remote Virtual Assistant:
- Email and Inbox Management
- Social Media Management & Scheduling, Comment Monitoring & Community Moderation
- Website : Administration & Management, Analytics Monitoring & SEO
- Brand outreach, Advertising Campaign Design etc
- Newsletter Writing and Scheduling
- Market Research
- Graphics Creation
- Appointment Scheduling
- Customer Support
Here is a list of tasks, if you need to outcource you will need someone more local for:
- Shipping Orders
- Bookkeeping & Accounting
- Product Photography
You can also outsource partial or complete manufacturing process, advertising & even sales.
What you decide to outsource, depends on what you need to be done without you having to do it yourself! You could even be like UBER who run the largest car rental service and not own a single vehicle! Or AirBnB who also do not own a single hotel.
How will outsourcing help you and your business?
Outsourcing will benefit you and your business in many direct and indirect ways.
- Monetary - You will save money by outsourcing. Directly, because you will not have to employ a full time person. And also because you can be more focused in your revenue-driven activities. You will also not need to invest money expanding your office.
- Flexibility - You can outsource tasks as and when you need to. It willbe like you have your own flexible staff to work for you as per your requirement. A tailor-made business service for you!
- Productivity - The person you outsource to, will be an expert in their feild. So the job will be done much better than it would have been done by someone who is already burdened with a lot of varied tasks. You will have improved quality and efficiency.
- Less headache - You will not be burdened with extra paperwork that hiring an employee brings.
- Future prospects - More often than not, people who outsource work, end up working together in the future either as collaborators or even business partners! Outsourcing is a very good way to test the waters if you are thinking of collaborating with someone. It will give you the idea of what it is like to work together without the fear of loss if things do not work out.
- Peace of mind - This is the most important benefit. Outsourcing will take off the anxiety from your mind. You will be able to concentrate on tasks that are important to you and you enjoy!
How to find the perfect person?
It is not easy, and you have to trust your gut a lot. But I can give you some signs to look out for.
First signs that you should NOT outsource to this person if
- This may sound trivial, but do not outsource to a person who has a casual email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. If they are not even serious about their email address, which is their first impression on you, there is a possibility that they will not treat your work with seriousness.
- They are too cheap! If the price they are quoting is way below the market rate or they are giving you a special discount (for no reason) DONT outsource!
- Their answers are vague. If they always answer you in vague or un-understandable words, it is better to not hire them.
- They do not sign a contract, especially if you are making a payment (full or part) upfront. A contract will not just protect them, but will also protect you if you are paying upfront. Their reluctance is definitely a red flag.
- They do not give you a detailed invoice. You will need the invoice for your accounts. So if they are not ready to provide you with an invoice, DO NOT work with them.
Now that we know what to look out for to avoid, let us see who you should work with?
- You are familiar with their work and absolutely love it! Go right ahead and outsource!
- They are an industry leader. They share their work on all different media and platforms and are easily reachable (answer your emails or comments)
- You are already getting value out of what they are sharing. If their tutorials are helping you improve your work they are definitely going to help you take your work to the next level.
- Their prices might seem steep, but you dont find it over priced. They might quote a sum that is quite high (compared to the market rate) but you believe in the quality of their work and you know you will be getting value for your money. Go right ahead!
- When the thought of working with them excites you! If you are looking forward to working with them, cannot wait to send that first email, DO IT! Its sure to be a positive outcome!
At the end of the day, it all comes down to trust. Do you trust this person to do exactly what you are paying them to do, based on what you have seen, read, heard, and learned about them? Or are you slightly uneasy about the whole thing, but think you're getting an incredible deal? Follow your gut.
How to make outsourcing run smoothly.
While, outsourcing can help you with a lot of benefits, if not done properly, it can cause a lot of headache.
The basic issue starts with you having to relinquish control over (at least a part of) the task. Here are a few things that you can do to make things smoother for both of you.
- Make a list. I suggest you make a list of ALL the tasks you do in your business. Then mark those which you do not like to do or you think are a 'waste of your time'. Then you can look at them and decide which tasks to outsource.
- Create processes. You know what goes into the task you are planning to outsource well than anyone else. Make a list of the process as you do it. Make sure to include every little important detail. If you include a hand written note in the package you want shipped, make sure you write it down!
- Communicate. Make sure you communicate your requirement AND your process details to the person who will be doing the task. They need to know what EXACTLY is expected from them. The more information you give, the easier working together will be.
- Follow up. Do not wait till the entire period of outsourcing is over to follow up. Have pre-decided intermediate conversations so both of you are aware where the collaboration is heading. It will be easier to make tweaks as you go rather than after everything is already done.
Trello is a wonderful platform to use for working with other people. It is similar to Pinterest, but a lot more easier to use when you are workign with multiple people on multiple projects; plus it has a lot of flexibility.
I am hoping my post will help you gain insight about the process of out-sourcing and you develop a fantastic partnership ahead!