When you are an entrepreneur, there are never enough hours in the day. From running marketing campaigns to managing finances, I've often found myself exhausted and wondering, "Where has the day gone?"
As I've grown my business, I've learned that I can't do everything on my own. Outsourcing has allowed me to grow my business in a way I never thought possible. When I advise businesses to consider outsourcing, I'm met with dozens of questions, including "How does that work?" and "How can I get started too?"
And it's not always easy. In fact, most managers I've talked to have had a negative experience and throw in the towel just weeks after trying to outsource for the first time. And with good reason--from parties not fulfilling their duties to communication problems, outsourcing can be frustrating when you're just getting started. When done correctly, though, the pros of outsourcing drastically outweigh the cons.
Here's how you can get started today and optimize for success.
1. Determine which tasks you could outsource.
Over the years, I've outsourced everything from web development to graphic design, saving time and money in the process. But not everything can or should be outsourced. Outsourcing works well only after a company has mastered a task in-house and has the ability to teach a third party how to perform the assignment on their behalf.
For example, you should not outsource your marketing or sales strategy to someone who does not know the ins and outs of your business. You can however, outsource an infographic or blog post that will accompany your latest marketing campaign.
Start small with outsourcing and then grow your programs over time.
2. Expect to spend upfront on training and recruiting.
Those looking to outsource should know early on that building a team of reliable freelancers and agencies is a long-term investment. Contrary to some misconceptions that outsourcing is "cheap," it actually takes an initial investment to recruit the right parties. I've spent thousands of dollars testing out contractors to ensure we work well together.
After a new contractor is hired, the work doesn't stop there. A commitment to properly training will help the outsourced party excel. During my time in-house, I've seen many companies hire contractors only to throw them in the ocean without teaching them how to swim. Though it takes time, energy, and money, an investment in onboarding and training will pay dividends in the long run. I've talked to many companies who have tried outsourcing only to stop in frustration over one bad experience.
When you're working with a new outsourced contractor or agency, it's important to invest in training them the same way you would an employee. As you're evaluating new talent, it's ask for examples of past work and testimonials from past clients. This will help you gain a broader sense of their skillset to see how it could be applied to your project.
3. Work together on a small test before hiring for a big project.
When I'm evaluating contractors to work with, I often do a paid test project to get a sense of their working style and to see if we are a good fit for each other. If you have design needs, consider hiring three to five designers to design a one-page PDF. From this low-cost test, you'll get a sense of their visual and working style before committing to a larger-scale project like a website design.
If you're looking for a writer, consider hiring 3-5 applicants each provide you a paragraph on a given subject. No matter what position you're hiring for a small test can help you see they are the right fit for a long-term engagement.
4. Become well-versed in the outsourced culture.
I've outsourced to people in many countries around the world and have had the opportunity to work with so many talented individuals. But as with any kind of working relationship, communication mistakes can arise from time to time, especially when your native language isn't your contractor's first language. It's important to understand that with outsourcing, you might need to spend more time communicating to ensure that the project instructions are understood and expectations are on the same page.
Patience is required on both sides of the outsourcing equation--from both the contractor and the contractee. Speaking Spanish as a second language, I know firsthand the difficulty that comes with doing projects in another country. I try to put myself in the contractor's shoes when problems arise and talk any problems through. When I'm working with a new contractor abroad, I make an effort to learn about doing business in their country to ensure that we're communicating effectively.
When done correctly, outsourcing can benefit your business, saving you both time and money. By finding the right team, training them properly, and investing in the long term, you'll set yourself up for success right out of the gate.