Outsourcing 101: Why (+ How) You Should Be Outsourcing Right Now
Time is finite.
Trying to do everything on your own isn’t smart business (or smart living).
When your resources are spread too thin, trying to achieve even the simplest of goals can feel far more challenging than it should.
If you’re not outsourcing yet, find out why you should be and how to delegate like a pro.
Or… Is it?
Being in business is essentially refining the art of leveraging resources to break even, get profitable, then keep growing those profits.
In a nutshell, economic alchemy.
Unless you’re a legit wizard, your economic alchemy skills probably don’t extend to making time stand still while your business catches up on its to-do list.
The only way to create more time is to grow your team.
Traditional employee hiring to cover specialist areas is high-risk. It’s a significant financial commitment and introduces more management and HR responsibility.
You can try assigning new responsibilities to existing team members but without training, you may not get the results you were hoping for.
And it doesn’t solve the 24 hours in a day problem.
Adding to your current team’s workload can also derail staff from the responsibilities for which they were actually hired to do.
You wouldn’t make an appointment with your dentist to discuss your tax return – asking your bookkeeper to have a go at putting together some posts for Instagram isn’t smart delegation.
You Need a Hero
Enter, outsourcing – professional contractors with specialist skill sets, available on an as-needed basis.
When a specialist task outside your team’s expertise comes up, simply hire a freelancer with the pertaining skill set and experience to step in and get the job done, efficiently and professionally.
Freelancers vs. Employees
Let’s take a look at the fundamental differences between freelancers and employees to help you decide which option is best for the various functions of your business:
- Expertise. A freelancer tends to have an innate drive and genuine desire to constantly learn and refine their skills in their chosen area. They chose the work they do – therefore, they have a natural affinity for wanting to stay on top of best practices in their given industry. This tends to make them specialists rather than generalists.
- Access. Outsourcing affords businesses access to talented specialists from all over the world. Hiring a traditional on-site employee is somewhat an act of faith that the stars align and produce a candidate with the exact skill set and experience the role requires, who happens to live within driving distance. Even if you live in a metropolitan area, the on-site factor hugely limits the talent pool.
- Time. If you need a job dealt with overnight, you can hire a freelancer from a different time zone to work while you sleep. This is a serious game changer in terms of productivity. Essentially, you can build and scale a remote virtual team to keep your business operating and making money around the clock.
- Cost. This one is easy to figure out – an employee = wages/salary + benefits + holidays + sick pay vs. a freelancer = per hour/fixed price. You can also hire freelancers at very competitive rates from countries with lower costs of living.
Outsourcing is probably sounding pretty good to you right about now. Before you jump in, make sure you’re up to speed with how to hire and delegate effectively, so your outsourcing experience is a success!
When hiring a freelancer, your primary objective is determining whether the candidate you’re considering, is capable of delivering what it is you want.
The ideal deliverable: On spec; on time; on budget; prompt responses to messages; zero drama.
Unfortunately, there’s no Minority Report-esque crystal ball (yet) to provide a sneak preview into how a candidate will turn out.
Like traditional recruitment – some candidates interview well/look great on paper then perform badly and vice versa.
However, following a simple vetting process (such as outlined below) should filter out any unsuitable candidates:
- Experience. What experience does the candidate have? Ask for examples of their work. If the candidate is a designer, writer or developer – ask to see their portfolio. Depending on the role, sometimes a willingness to learn and entry-level pay rate can be a fair trade-off. However, if the work to be done is highly technical and you’re paying market rates – proven experience is a must.
- Credibility. Ask for references and/or URLs to where the candidate has verified feedback listed from clients.
- Screening Questions. Get to know candidates with a few screening questions. Mix it up with specific questions relevant to the candidate’s industry and also throw in a couple of an open-ended nature. Frame the latter to give candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking skills and approach to problem-solving.
- Guarantees. Lastly, ask candidates if they provide a guarantee. How do they treat requests for revisions if clients are unhappy with a deliverable? What is their refund policy?
- Trial Period. Start small with new hires. Test the waters with a couple of hours or a small one-off project. Gauge the freelancer’s ability to follow instructions, communicate and deliver on time. If all goes well, scale up their hours/project responsibilities, accordingly.
You’ve made a great hire – congrats! What’s next?
- Context. While you can reasonably expect a freelancer to be the expert and offer advice and insight, they need to know exactly what it is you want, why you want it and the outcome you’re looking to achieve. For example: “I need you to put my business on Facebook.” vs. “I want to use Facebook Ads to increase my fishing supplies online store sales. We ship to the US and Canada only.”
- Details. Again, “I want a fun red logo!” vs. a few examples of logos you like (and those you don’t!) will bring about two very different outcomes. Be specific. Even the most talented freelancer isn’t a mind reader. Providing details and context allows the freelancer to focus on creating the best outcome possible for what you actually want, rather than burning through idea after idea, hoping something sticks.
- Openness. Make it clear that you’re open to feedback and direction. This means allowing the freelancer to assess your requirements then steer you in the right direction if something you’re wanting is not such a great idea or can be executed in a better way.
- Outsourcing opens up a global talent pool. No need to cast runes in the hope that a talented social media manager with a passion for your brand and niche happens to live within driving distance of your business!
- Freelancers cost dramatically less both financially and in management resources, than traditional employees.
- Vet candidates with smart screening questions.
- Vet new hires with trial tasks.
- Delegation is a joint venture. Provide all the information your freelancer will need to deliver a successful outcome.