Use Outsourcing To Jumpstart Small Business Success
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As a business owner, you wear many hats.
It may be a badge of honor to some people.
Not turning to outsourcing can be a control issue.
Or it may be a cost-savings measure.
Or even a trust issue.
Truthfully, it’s a sign of potential trouble.
It’s definitely going to result in inefficiency.
After all, you can only do so many things solo.
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When Is The Right Time To Start Outsourcing?
Taking on too much responsibility can lead to:
- losing focus
- getting sloppy
- foregoing sleep
- losing track of time
- being disorganized
Trying to do everything can lead to accomplishing nothing.
Think about it…
Doctors have nurses draw blood, and take blood pressure and measurements.
Attorneys have paralegals and legal assistants to do research and type up motions.
Online entrepreneurs have virtual assistants to schedule appointments, answer mail, & manage team members.
Each of these professionals, and tons more out there, delegates the “grunt work” so they can concentrate on what their area of expertise is.
No one knows everything, nor should they.
Multitasking really isn’t such a good thing and shouldn’t be held as a badge of honor.
Think about it: if you are doing more than one thing at a time, none of those tasks are getting your full and undivided attention.
That means aside from the drop in quality of the work there is also a greater chance of a mistake being made.
Outsourcing will help you put your full attention into what you decide to take on.
Outsourcing Can Make You money
That being said, you shouldn’t be wasting time on tasks that take you away from your particular area of expertise if you can pay someone to do those tasks.
Especially if the cost is less than the lost income you face by tackling them yourself.
The key to running a business successfully is to put all of your efforts into what you do best and outsource everything else to maximize the earnings potential of your business.
While in the beginning, it may seem like this strategy gives you complete control over your entire business, it could very well be costing you in terms of customers and therefore income.
There are several areas of business operation that entrepreneurs erroneously tend to do themselves.
Not only would you be wasting your time, but the odds are good that an outside person who does those things for a living would be able to do them significantly better and more efficiently than you could.
Some of the tasks that are likely better suited to be outsourced are:
- Tax Preparation
- Legal Services (ie: drawing up contracts)
- Social Media
- Website Design
- Public Relations
- Responding to emails
- Running payroll
- Appointment setting
For example, if you are a doctor running a solo practice (or a lawyer, or salesperson) and doing the books at the same time, you are costing yourself important billable time (or time that you can be selling).
So, if you spend 1-2 hours a day paying bills, balancing the checkbook, running reports, etc. and an hour of your time is worth $100 (for argument’s sake) you are losing approximately $100-$200 a day.
That may not seem like much, but pro-rate that over 240 business days (48 weeks x 5 business days conservatively assuming you close for holidays, personal days, and vacation time), and you could potentially be costing your business between $24,000 and $48,000 a year.
Now, if you were to hire a tax accountant that charges even $1,000 a month to handle all of the bookkeeping, bank reconciliations, and report analysis, it would only cost your business a total of $12,000 for the year. This comes out to a savings of 50%-75% annually.
[Of course, the figures used are just examples, and if your time is worth more than the value used, you will be saving your business even more money, which ultimately leaves more money for you to either put back into the business for growth or to take personally as salary.]
Even if you already have a bookkeeper on your payroll, outsourcing still makes monetary sense from the standpoint that if this person is very knowledgeable and skilled you are still paying much more than $12,000 a year to employ them not to mention any secondary costs such as insurance, payroll taxes, supplies, etc. in addition to any idle time.
Also, think about using a 3rd party system.
My buddy Martin runs an Airbnb experience taking people on tours of Toronto-area coffee shops.
He could have set up his own booking and payment system but he took the smarter route and lets Airbnb do the back-office stuff and does what he wants–drinks coffee and meet new people.
The other side of the equation is that you are employing a less skilled and knowledgeable person, in which case you will benefit from outsourcing the accounting duties by not only saving money but also acquiring a built-in support system.
Outsourcing Can Save You Money
Yes, it may be difficult to give up control and oversight over such an important aspect of your business, but then again you most likely went into business for yourself to make money, not to let it go towards costs that you can minimize by taking proactive measures.
And, if you do all of your bookkeeping after-hours, wouldn’t you rather have that time to spend with friends and family, and save yourself from getting burned out in the future?
To take it a step further, certain tasks like drawing up contracts should be left to the lawyers as they know exactly how to draw them up in a manner that not only makes them compliant but also protects you against missing vital points within the documents.
Something like marketing should be left to professional marketers since they know what works vs. what doesn’t in terms of marketing techniques for a particular industry and target market.
There is no reason to throw good money into marketing campaigns that you design if you don’t know the first thing about analyzing a target market, or the expected response rates among the different types of marketing avenues.
And when it comes to web design, generally the first thing a potential customer sees that reflects your business, you should always opt for a professionally designed option rather than something that looks like it was done in a matter of minutes with a free program or which is reminiscent of a 1st grader’s art project.
Sure you can teach yourself to do any task, but you need to ask yourself if the time spent self-teaching is worth more than what you could be making if you were spending that time running your business.
You need to consider the fact that these tasks may be (I like to say definitely will be) more effectively and efficiently completed by a professional.
Plus, if this newly learned skill is for one-time use only, then you need to ask yourself if it’s really worth the time and energy.
This is exactly why I feel strongly that you always need to be careful when you take on do-it-yourself projects, especially in business.
If you mess up something the cost to fix it will almost definitely be much more than the cost would have been to hire someone to do it correctly from the start.
Outsourcing May Save Your Reputation
Let’s not make this all about the monetary costs either.
What happens if you draw up your own contracts incorrectly and then get into a dispute with a freelancer you hire?
Word can get out that you don’t abide by your own terms.
Worse yet, you can seem like a scammer!
What happens if you think something is cute or funny for a marketing campaign but it turns out that it’s offensive?
Odds are your reputation can take a severe hit–both professionally and personally.
Worse yet, you could face public backlash which we all know doesn’t blow over very quickly.
Not everything has to do directly with money.
Sometimes, your sterling reputation is priceless, and having even the slightest tarnish can put you in a bad place.
The bottom line is that you need to consider the customers first and foremost.
They don’t care if you do any of those things yourself or if you outsource, they only care about the product or service you deliver to them.
And, if trying to be the jack of all trades is negatively affecting those results in the customers’ eyes because you are spending too much time on projects that are not your bread and butter in terms of skill or expertise, then you probably won’t have to worry as they won’t be customers for very long.
Taking everything into consideration, oftentimes it just makes good business sense to stick to one area and bring others on board with professional experience and expertise to handle everything else.
Where To Find Freelancers To Outsource To
Outsourcing requires trust and control.
One is difficult to give.
The other is difficult to give up.
Both are necessary and you try to do everything on your own.
- accounting department
- legal department
- sales department
- IT department
- customer service department
Where do you find those people, those amazing freelancer folks who will help you complete your business website?
Or to help you with your Pinterest account?
Or to set up your QuickBooks Online subscription?
Back in the day, you’d have to turn to the good ol’ yellow pages and start phoning random companies.
What’s that you say, you don’t even know what “yellow pages” are?
Let’s skip that then lol.
Even as recently as a few years ago you would head over to craigslist.
But it’s essentially left for people selling household goods, looking for sex, or scamming the gullible.
So we can skip that option as well.
It doesn’t matter where people used to turn to when looking for quality freelancers, because I’m going to tell you where to go to find the services you need.
So, where do I think are good places to find freelancers to work with when you’re ready to start outsourcing?
Logo & Graphic Design Work
Outsource Graphic Design
Post your project and watch the designs come in then choose the best one. No more hoping the person you hire will deliver good results.
Personally, I’ve had great success outsourcing work via crowdsourced sites.
Crowdsourcing is simply a way of having your ideas laid out, and then having designers (or whoever based on the project) compete for your money by submitting their interpretations.
You get to direct them, communicate directly, and have them make as many changes to their designs as you want, assuming they don’t get frustrated and give up on trying to please you.
My personal favorite is freelancer.com.
It’s where I held my contest for the logo design for this very website and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
For a small contest that didn’t have a huge prize, the quality of submissions and the responsiveness of the freelancers left me feeling that no matter which one I chose I couldn’t go wrong.
I’ve also had the logo for AccountLancer done on there as well as some video asset work.
Aside from a few hiccups with the site itself, I have been 100% pleased with the workers I’ve partnered with.
Freelance Writers & Copywriters
Sometimes you would rather pay someone to write your sales pages.
Or your email newsletters.
Or even your blog posts.
There’s nothing wrong with that and it can actually free you up to do other, more important tasks such as income-generating opportunities.
upWork is a very popular place for finding all kinds of freelancers.
It’s an easy-to-use interface, and it does have some nice features like being able to manage teams.
The English skills tests are mostly self-administered and don’t accurately reflect the true conversational skills of non-native speakers.
But, they don’t ask for very much money either, which can be good or bad.
It seems like the best of all worlds with the ability to take advantage of crowdsourcing as well as using the standard practice of finding freelancers by posting a job and allowing them to apply.
Fiverr gets a lot of attention, and it really isn’t so bad if you hire the right freelance writer.
But, as I have found out, if you have high standards and expect quality work, you need to pay a commensurate amount for it.
Plus, you may have to spend much more than $5 to get even the basic version of what you want, much less the highest-quality version of it.
I’m not a fan of being cheap–especially not on a quality writer when it comes to content because I’ve seen how cringe it can end up being.
If I can’t handle content creation myself, I’ll pay someone who will get it right the first time without having to spend extra time reviewing it for spelling, grammar, or context.
Website Design & Maintenance
I’m not even going to allow you to entertain the thought of using a freelancer to build a website or give you website support services.
Seeing as how this is the core of everything you are working towards, you want to be working with a reliable, reputable web design company that you know will be around to give you support after the project is completed.
What can be worse than hiring a random freelancer to fix a website problem, then when you need them again, *poof* they’re nowhere to be found.
You only want one set of hands working on this, not a different person each time something comes up.
Ask your friends who they use.
If you have a favorite blogger scroll down to the footer to see the name of the designer or simply send them a message and ask.
If one of your fellow online business owners has a great-looking and functioning site ask them.
Whatever you do, I can’t stress enough how difficult it is to try to find a freelancer who will be both high quality and reliable in case you need something 6 months down the road.
Small Business Bookkeeping
This is a really touchy subject for me.
Being an accountant who works with small business owners such as writers, bloggers, coaches, and the like I know how concerned you can get when it comes to your money!
I also know that many people don’t know what to look for or what to expect.
The first thing I want to say is that I do not recommend any service that doesn’t allow you to interview potential match’s bookkeeping services.
One of the most important things you can do is speak directly to your potential business partner so that you get a feel for their knowledge and personality.
If you aren’t 100% comfortable with someone you simply move on.
Unfortunately, sites like bench.co just assign you to someone–no way for you to check credentials or even know if they have an understanding of your particular business.
If you really want to find someone who is going to be a great fit, go right to your preferred accounting program.
Both QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks have directories of experts on those respective platforms.
You can go directly to those people’s sites and set up appointments rather than rely on a random pairing on something as important as tracking your money.
Virtual Assistants (VA)
Perhaps the most important freelancer you will have on your team is your VA!
They do so many things from email management to responding to social media to keeping your calendar organized.
The people I know who have “full-time” virtual assistants say they don’t know how they ever operated without them.
I have clients who offloaded all of their administrative tasks to VAs which enables them to spend significantly more time doing the most important task–generating revenue!
It’s such an important position that people have started creating courses to teach people how to become a VA and even coach them.
When you’re looking for a qualified VA, some of the courses even offer you access to their students.
A prime example of that is the Pinterest Virtual Assistant course which has a form to fill out and then qualified Pinterest VAs will contact you (that link at the beginning of the sentence takes you there).
Another place to go is Facebook.
There are a lot of groups such as Virtual Assistant Jobs which is a huge group with lots of interaction among members and job seekers.
The important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as perfection–you can’t always blame the source for a bad interaction with a potential VA.
That’s why you have to interview and test potential candidates.
One last tip–don’t be afraid of bartering either as that can be a different approach to finding people to outsource work to.
When you find the right fit, however, people always wonder how they ever operated without one before!
Besides these few examples of freelancer matching sites, there are dozens more, and most likely many of them will be quite similar.
No matter what site you use to find your future freelance workers, you need to make sure to do as much research as possible before committing to giving your hard-earned money to any of the people on any of these sites.
The last thing you want is to waste your limited resources only to discover that the person you hired is less qualified than originally advertised or worse, simply steals the work of others and tries to pass it on as their own.
Well, I’d say we discussed a lot about outsourcing and how it can help your small business.
We discussed how outsourcing can make you money.
We covered how outsourcing can save you money.
We addressed outsourcing as a way to preserve or maintain your reputation.
We even went over all of the places to turn to to find freelancers to whom you can outsource stuff.
The bottom line is that outsourcing is a valuable way to approach many business tasks that you shouldn’t be doing yourself to help jumpstart your small business’s success!
Are you the “wear all hats” type? Do you prefer outsourcing everything except for the main revenue-producing tasks? Heck, do you even outsource those and just sit back and delegate everything? What are your favorite resources for finding freelancers to hire?
Great points and agree. I’ve had my share of outsourcing success and failures. Interviewing and testing should have come to mind to make sure it would be a fit. I’m now at the process of creating a team largely outsourced of writers and designers.
I try to be less controlling but sometimes I still wait until I’ve found that I wasted too much time on an issue to call in the experts.
Mostly website-related stuff, but that’s simply because I want to learn how it all works although it’s not a valid excuse lol
I do want to know how things work too. And proven it’s good to know but I can’t get lost in the details.