“Do what you do best and outsource the rest” – the original outsourcing tagline coined by Peter Drucker in the 1990’s. Since then outsourcing has become more and more popular and is set to continue at a rate of rapid growth…
What is outsourcing and why do we do it?
Outsourcing allows small businesses the opportunity to increase the quality of their outputs by using skilled experts from a wider talent pool than their own employees. If your company doesn’t have the capacity to employ, for example, a dedicated bookkeeper, then outsourcing to a local professional is by far the most efficient way to work.
Geographically, the digital age has expanded this talent pool even further as we connect online and build effective working relationships with people outside our own locality. Which leads me on to:
How do I find reliable professionals to outsource my work to?
Once you’ve decided to outsource some work, either on a regular basis or for a one-off project, the next step is where on earth to find someone reliable and affordable! There are lots of freelancing sites out there which some people swear by and some people won’t touch – Fiverr, People Per Hour and Upwork are all well known but they all take a cut of the money you’re giving to your small business owner. My personal preference is to visit networking events and to network online through local Facebook groups, LinkedIn and most importantly – through recommendations.
If you haven’t already started networking with other local businesses, then you should do this anyway! Once you’ve begun, you’ll find synergies and common interests with like-minded people, as well as having a reliable source of recommendations and an overview of what the small business community looks like in your local area.
Equally, once you have used somebody and are happy with their work, give them a review. This is a great thank-you to them and is so helpful for other people looking to outsource.
Potential pitfalls to avoid:
Make sure you get details clear before you begin and throughout your relationship. This will help all parties involved and set you off on the right foot to establish a strong working relationship. Be clear about what you’d like, what they will charge, what credit will be given, and when you expect to have the work completed by. Never assume that your outsourcer will know what you’re thinking (although a good VA may build this superpower the longer you work together!)
If you can, take a look at previous work they have done and have a stalk of their social media profiles and website. A general rule of thumb is that if you’re looking for a copywriter and their website has spelling mistakes – steer clear!
Working across time-zones or super-long distance! I would personally find this very difficult if you are doing regular work together. Also bear in mind that you will get the best results if the company you are outsourcing with really understands you and your business. Manufacturing companies often outsource to India and China, but think about whether international outsourcing is appropriate for the kind of work you need doing. Do you need a native speaker? Do you need someone familiar with UK law? Do you want someone that you could meet in person once a month?
Expecting high-quality work for tiny prices – you get what you pay for. It may seem a good idea at first to use a cheaper freelancer until you’re sure about the idea, but this is a false economy as you might not be as happy with the results as you would be if you had invested a little more. Think about your own ‘hourly rate’ and compare that with the outsourcer – bearing in mind that they can probably do the job quicker. See my previous post for more on this!
Lastly, remember your Ps and Qs. “Thank you for your hard work” goes a long way to someone who works for themselves, you want to be their favourite client