In many circles, the term “outsourcing” has gotten a bad rap. It tends to be synonymous with the loss of jobs and the downfall of the American economy. As traveling entrepreneurs, it means something quite different. It means growth. It means less stress. It means freedom. Most of the time, it simply doesn’t make sense for us to hire on an employee. It’s much more economical to find a contractor.
There are some things to be aware of, though. Outsourcing can go horribly wrong if you are not careful. It can turn into an endless money pit for which you will have little to show. Then why do we do it? Why do we risk it?
Because the rewards are amazing!
I outsource many things in my business. I outsource my product sourcing. I outsource my inventory prep. I outsource parts of my content creation, web building, graphics design, and software development. I’ve seen some contractors do great work. I’ve seen others take the money and not provide much in return.
If you’ve decided to outsource, saving yourself your precious time, then you’ve made a wise choice. You might be apprehensive and concerned about how things will go. Rest easy. You’ll soon learn that the time you save is way more precious than the money you spend.
If you want to maximize your output and thus increase your cash flow and profit, then there are two ways to go about it.
One is to take on more work and to put yourself or your business under an increasing amount of strain. I’m sure you can agree, this is not the best choice.
The other is to outsource aspects of your business model to outsiders and thereby freeing up your time to work on things which generate more profit, without causing yourself a nervous breakdown.
I’m sure I don’t need to ask you which one you prefer.
There are some aspects of outsourcing that you should keep in mind before jumping in. While outsourcing is a great move, it can also result in problems if you aren’t careful. Here are some mistakes to avoid when you start out.
Lack of Communication
If you’re outsourcing to a VA or another service provider and you’re communicating only by e-mail, then this can make it all too easy for there to be a miscommunication resulting in you getting the wrong work, incomplete work, or work you are otherwise not happy with.
This also becomes especially likely if the person you are doing business with doesn’t speak English as a first language. Make sure to double check the worker’s comprehension of your instructions before sending payment!
Other problems arise when you hire a VA from overseas and assume a portion of the job is understood without being said. Many times, when I first started outsourcing, I assumed something was understood, but went unsaid. To you, it may be obvious. Of course you have to open up the spreadsheet before you enter the data, right?
When you are dealing with clerical tasks and overseas workers, you must remember to give them specific instructions. If it helps, do the task yourself and make a note of EVERY little task that you do to complete that job. You will feel more secure in turning that job over, and your worker will feel more comfortable in completing the task.
Trusting the Work
While 99% of the internet population might be conscientious and moral, there will always be those that try to scam you out of money. That’s why you should always check that the work you’ve received is original and high quality.
If you have outsourced content, you can go to a site like Quetext to check for plagiarism. If the work was graphics design, you might be able to use Google Image Search to find wrongdoing. If it is a piece of software, it may be a bit more difficult, but extensive testing will uncover any shortcuts taken.
Not Paying Enough
Don’t be afraid to send work back if you’re not happy. Demand quality from your freelancer. Of course, you might also want to consider paying for the more professional freelancer, they’d cost more, but you usually get what you pay for.
Don’t be afraid to pay more up front. Inexperienced freelancers will jump into the market at rock-bottom prices to make their offer more appealing. These freelancers will more likely get irritated about asking for rework. Not only did they have to do the original work for cheap, but now they have to redo it for free!
You will find that, in general, higher priced VAs are more capable. Not only will you find it necessary to ask for rework less often, but when you do, a higher paid VA will be happier to do it.
Sometimes a service you use will offer incredibly high-quality work for a short period of time at the beginning, but then slowly deteriorate. This may be because they are outsourcing as well in order to take on more clients.
Either way, you need to make sure that the high-quality of work you are receiving at the start of your business relationship stays high-quality.
Not Doing It Enough!
One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs and start-up owners will often make is not outsourcing enough. Many business owners are ‘control freaks’ by nature and believe they need to handle everything personally in order for it to be done well. This means they end up thinly spread and burned out when actually outsourcing would likely result in a more professional job that ultimately provides greater ROI.
This is most commonly seen in Amazon sellers. For some reason, they feel a greater sense of control over their business than internet marketers. Many times, they have a problem letting go of the prepping of products, thinking they can do it better.
Think of it this way: you’ve already outsourced your order fulfillment to Amazon FBA. Utilizing a service whose reputation depends on packaging according to FBA specifications will only free you up to find more inventory!
The FBA community is a small one. If they mess up your account with their quality of work, everyone will know about it. They will likely go out of business. They are well aware of this fact.
Letting the Good Ones Go
Another big mistake is to let good freelancers go. Whether this is because you don’t pay them on time or it’s because you try to see if you can find a cheaper service elsewhere, the point is that a good working relationship is something that you should value highly and that isn’t easy to come by.
I have found that, in general, freelancers in the Philippines are very loyal individuals who will stick with you for a long, long time. If you find a great worker you enjoy doing business with – do everything you can to maintain that relationship!
I hope these tips help you feel more comfortable about outsourcing. Now that you know what NOT to do, go out there and find a freelancer to help free up your time!