“If you want something done right, do it yourself!” It’s an old adage I have lived by for many years. Perhaps you have too. However, not considering outsourcing your work can seriously limit your business and your success. You will become the bottleneck to growth. If you want to grow and thrive, you just can’t do everything yourself.
As a small business owner, it only makes sense to hire other people to help you in your day to day operations. You just can’t do everything yourself (especially if you work from home). Those that thrive are those who effectively know when to hire and what tasks to outsource.
It’s simple. It allows you to free yourself of tasks that do not directly contribute to your success, but which still must be done to operate your business. Things like accounting, setting up your website, fulfilling ecom orders and anything else that is one-off jobs or repetitive tasks.
For your business, this means having others complete small tasks and share your workload. Not only that, you can easily solve technical problems that you don’t have the skill set to do.
Why spend valuable and unnecessary time learning a skill needed for a task (such as web coding) when you can simply hire somebody to do it for you?
A Personal Example
As an example, my company runs our own web hosting service (yes, a little plug for one of my own businesses.) Now, I don’t know the first thing about web hosting, server farms, environmental controls and server security.
If I wanted to do all this myself, it would take years and a network administration degree to even start setting one up. The rest of my business would suffer or even collapse because I would become too involved in trying to set up a server.
The solution, of course, is to not do any of that. Instead, I learned the rudimentary processes of how to operate a web hosting service (you need to do this so you know what is required and what you need done), then hired a team of specialists to set up, maintain and administer it themselves!
They run this part my business smoothly, and I continue to focus on what I do best, and that is planning and growing my business.
What functions are outsourced?
Before the Internet came along, legal, accounting, payroll, cleaning and security services were already being farmed out. Since the nineties, tasks have expanded to include the following:
- IT and computer programming
- Customer Service
- Website development and design
- Architectural Design
- Article writing and Blogging
- Amazon PPC
- Gathering of statistics (surveys)
- Social media and content
- Shipping and logistics (for Amazon FBA and eCommerce)
- Inventory management
And pretty well anything else you can think of!
What Should You NOT Outsource?
Some tasks can never be outsourced. Most obviously, you can’t hire somebody else to brainstorm and make strategic business decisions for you … it’s YOUR business! (Unless you find a business partner, which is something completely different.)
Nor can you reveal the secret formula that gives you your competitive edge … though you can portion out parts so that no one worker knows the whole of your processes and secrets.
If you are an artisan or craftsman, you would obviously be building your works yourself. However, think of certain tasks in your shop that you can have others do. Is there certain common prep work when you begin a craft? You can teach somebody to handle this for you. Even Leonardo da Vinci had people helping him on his masterpieces!
Think twice before outsourcing tasks that require the use of your financial or customer data. Some businesses allow third-parties access to their Facebook Advertising or Amazon accounts. However, you can set up sub-accounts with only certain allowed permissions.
For instance, I have a full-time worker managing my Amazon business. They can log into my display dashboard, but they only have access to inventory, PPC campaigns, customer service and orders. They do not see and can not change any personal, business or financial information.
How to Begin Outsourcing
So, you’re now ready to begin outsourcing! How do you start? One technique that helps is to list tasks that you just do not like doing. Tasks that are repetitive are also great candidates for outsourcing. Business accounting and inventory management are definitely some that come to mind.
Think of tasks that you can turn into a process. For instance, if you have a dropshipping ecom business, create the procedure (called a Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP) on the complete steps you do when a customer buys something from your store. This could be the following:
- Customer buys an item
- You confirm payment
- You contact the dropshipper
- The dropshipper sends you confirmation of shipping
- You send the customer the shipping tracking number
- You get an email from the shipper that the product was delivered
- After a week, you send the customer a followup email asking how they like it
Write out this entire process in a document with as much detail as possible. Add troubleshooting steps, such as what to do if an item is out of stock. You can also create a video on doing it yourself.
Then, hire somebody to do this exact process for you, and have them follow this exact method you documented.
Think of all the SOPs you create and the workers you hire to do them as well-oiled cogs in your small business machine. Everything works towards the growth and financial success of your business.
By documenting everything, you also become more disciplined and organized in your business. Processes you did automatically without thinking are now written down somewhere, ready to be referenced as needed.
This also has the effect of taking yourself out of the business process, something that is necessary if you ever decide to sell your business.
When Should You Outsource?
It varies from one organization to another. In my own experience, I searched for expert help the moment I realized I needed it. This was in my affiliate business when I was spending far too long writing articles … I wanted to scale up quickly and publish several dozen websites. The only way to do that was to hire a team of writers to publish for me.
If you find yourself overworked or stumbling over a roadblock, it is time to get help. A task that is essential to running your business can’t be put on hold just because you’re still debating on whether to outsource or not.
Of course, there are cost considerations. But, think in terms of opportunities lost when you’re tempted to delay that call for help.
Third-Party Outsourcing Providers
Here are some reputable companies to hire outside help:
A merger of Elance and oDesk, they’re the largest freelancer marketplace today, and my go-to for nearly 20 years. For your marketing, webpage designing, copywriting, articles and other needs, you can browse Upwork’s available talent and individual freelancer ratings. They specialize in small, one-off projects.
They’re a great alternative to Upwork. You can post projects and your requirements on their site, then choose the freelancer you believe is right for the job.
You won’t go wrong with them if you belong to a large company. It is one of the top outsourcing companies in the world. Three-fourths of Fortunes 500 companies are Accenture clients.
With 3 million freelancers worldwide, this is also a great choice to find talent. They specialize in programming and development, but you can find anybody to do any job you require.
If you’re looking for international freelancers who are English proficient, then try this Philippine-based company. They specialize in full-time VAs (virtual assistants) to do a variety of tasks in your business.
It’s the leading freelancer marketplace in the U.K., though its engineering department is located in Greece. Their biggest markets are start-ups and small and medium enterprises.
For single-project outsourcing tasks, our common practice is to try out the same worker for several tasks, hiring them again and again at one of these providers.
If we like them and they constantly do a great job, and are reliable, we will communicate directly with them outside the system. This saves both of us money, as we no longer pay subscription fees and/or the worker no longer pays a percentage to the company. We then simply email them when we need tasks completed, paying them via Paypal or Payoneer.
The Vast Benefits of Outsourcing
Outsourcing does not just save you time and money in the long run. You become much more disciplined in your business, as you are forced to put processes in place for your workers to follow.
Here are many other ways we can succeed in our business by hiring outside help:
- Working with an outside workforce means a smaller office or workspace. Think of the savings in rent or leases, utilities, insurance, etc.
- There is less need for office equipment or machinery. Take into account not only purchase prices but maintenance costs as well.
- You can gain an effective and cost-efficient presence around the world. Inquiries on your products and services can be dealt with even while you’re sleeping.
- You have almost endless resources available for your core business. Need a website for your ecom business? Find a contractor. Need to source a new product for selling on Amazon? Hire a sourcing agent. The tasks you can outsource almost have no limit.
- By having other people do a lot of your tasks, you can now devote more effort and energy for tasks that directly earn you revenue.
- Your organization becomes more focused on your goals. You can eliminate tasks that have no direct bearing on your growth and profitability … else why outsource it?
- You achieve a more streamlined organizational structure. As you grow, you can hire managers to manage all the people who do your business tasks … hey, it’s starting to sound like you operate a big business! This is, in fact, how huge multi-nationals started out.
Are you ready to outsource some of your tasks? Once you do, you will realize how you could have operated your business without help. By freeing yourself from repetitive tasks and leaving certain specialized tasks to skilled workers, you can concentrate on growing and scaling your business and concentrating on what matters – yourself.