If you haven’t tried it yet, 2020 is a great time to start outsourcing. We are right at that point in the gig age where outsourcing is easy. It has spread widely enough that there is ample knowledge about it and ample freelance resources to tap into. Yet, it is not so popular that is difficult to find the right fit for your needs (like it has become in the realm of traditional hiring).
With the gig economy in full swing, there’s no reason not to start outsourcing tasks for your business. As an entrepreneur, you very likely have so much work to do, but so little valuable time and not a lot of resources to get everything done. By outsourcing, you can make sure that everything gets done by skilled professionals, and without having to go over budget.
Outsourcing is not just hiring people outside of your company to take over certain tasks so you can save time. Outsourcing is a way to get tasks done better than you can in-house and at a lower cost. The gig economy has made outsourcing the creative future of work. It’s how businesses can accomplish goals in the most efficient and productive way possible. And that includes you.
When you start outsourcing, you are tapping into a global talent pool instead of being limited to what is available in your local area. You are expanding your reach to bring into your business the perfect people to skillfully complete tasks for less so you can invest more into business growth. You can outsource almost anything thanks to the internet and all its tools and technologies. And there are freelancers all over the world ready and able to take on these tasks.
Outsourcing also means that you only need to pay for services rendered. You do not have to guarantee steady pay with benefits or provide a fully-furnished workspace. You hire a freelancer and pay only for hours worked, or a fixed price for each project. (Of course, the option to hire on retainer or for a fixed weekly or monthly amount is also available, if this suits your needs.) Freelancers take care of their own facilities and equipment.
Start Outsourcing in 2020
Freelancers are business owners like yourself, so you don’t need to worry about holding their hands. They are professionals who can provide valuable insights into systems and processes on top of valuable skills.
Here’s how to start outsourcing smoothly and efficiently:
1. Identify Time-Consuming Tasks
Any task that is repetitive and/or takes up a lot of time is not something that you should be doing yourself. It’s also not likely something that needs your constant, close supervision. You don’t have to hire someone to work right next to you to make sure they get done properly. For instance, sorting and responding to emails and checking inventory levels.
Start outsourcing these time-consuming tasks to free up your days. Get these areas streamlined so they pretty much run without much need for your input. This will give you more time and energy to look into the next tasks you should outsource.
2. Identify Less Crucial Tasks
The many repetitive and time-consuming tasks in any business are important. We can all agree, however, that there are certain tasks that need special attention. If you’re running a small business, then you as the owner are probably doing all these tasks yourself because they are sensitive. That’s not really the best way to go about it, however.
You should be focusing on the core aspects of your business. You need to be the leader who grows the business. Any other tasks that fall outside this area – particularly operations – are not for you. This can be running marketing campaigns or providing customer service or negotiating with potential suppliers. Hire experienced freelancers to take these over so you can be that driving force that you need to be.
3. Identify Problem Areas
No business owner can be an expert at absolutely every aspect of their business. There will always be some things that you cannot do as well as they can be done. For instance, you may be a financial genius, but not very good with people. You may be great at sales but not very experienced with choosing winning products.
Whatever they are, your weak points threaten your business’s success. Start outsourcing these areas to experienced professionals once operations are streamlined and you know what you lack and need to bring into your business.
The Hiring Process
Hiring is pretty much the same whether you are looking for someone in-house or remote, for full-time work or short-term projects. You figure out what you need (which we’ve covered above), you search for a match and confirm the fit, then you make the hire and integrate them into your business.
There are some differences, however, when you start outsourcing because you are dealing with a remote workforce. So here’s the process that has been perfected at FreeeUp, the fast-hire online marketplace for the top 1% of freelance professionals:
1. Task Descriptions
Start outsourcing one task in the time-consuming category. You want to take it slow until you are comfortable with the process. You may have experienced hiring before, but you don’t want to just dive into outsourcing. Take your time to master the process so you can make any tweaks you need to improve outcomes and make the process go faster and smoother with each iteration.
Take that one task and create a full description of it. To save more time and attract only the most qualified candidates, you want to be as detailed as possible. You may not be able to – or really want to – entertain calls and emails asking for clarifications on what the work entails. what your budget is, if you need candidates to speak English, what times you want the freelancer to work, etc.
Put as much important information as you can into your description but keep it concise. The best freelancers don’t have time to read through unnecessarily lengthy descriptions. It looks disorganized and unprofessional, which will be unattractive to them.
2. Hiring Partner
You are going to be floating your description online, since this is where you can reach the world’s freelance population. You want to tap only the best, however, so you need to choose your hiring partner carefully.
Freelance marketplaces are a little bit like hiring through agencies. If you wanted to hire a security guard, for instance, you might want to approach an agency that pre-vets potentials. This way, you can get a recommendation instead of taking a great risk by shooting in the dark. This is what the best freelance marketplaces do, for starters.
The internet is a wild world, so you also need a partner to help you focus your aim. Choosing one that serves your niche will do a lot to make sure that your description gets in front of the right sets of eyes. You also need a partner to provide protection. Freelance marketplaces help to secure payment for services rendered so you don’t get cheated by fraudsters who slip through the cracks.
Because you won’t have an in-house HR department, your hiring partner will also provide a level of customer service. You want one that will help you resolve any problems that come up as you work with freelance hires.
When you have chosen the freelance marketplace that provides the services you need at the level that you are confident in, that’s where you sign up and submit your task description.
On most marketplaces, when freelancers start noticing your task description, you’re going to start getting a lot of applications. You’ll need time to carefully sort through them so you can short-list the finest and rank them. These are the candidates that will move to the interview stage.
A few marketplaces eliminate this step to make it easier for you to get through the process to find the best fit. If you don’t want to spend a week wading through resumes and portfolios, then you’ve probably chosen a fast-hire partner. This marketplace will pre-vet for you and send you one or a few best matches, depending on your preference. Then you can have a short interview to clear out any foggy areas and fill in any missing details, and to confirm the requirements you listed in your task description.
Once you’ve found the ideal person for the role you need filled, you make the hire. Then it’s time to integrate them into your operations.
Onboarding is a vital step in making sure that work goes smoothly moving forward. You have the best fit for the task, but not everything depends on skills, experience and personality. You want to organize things and set expectations so that everything functions like a well-oiled machine.
The first stage in onboarding is building rapport. Take the first step to establishing a good working relationship by getting to know each other. Later, you will also introduce them to other people that they will be working with so they can get to know each other.
The next stage involves getting them more familiar with the intricacies of how your business operates. This means introducing them to your systems and processes and going over the details so they can settle into the flow.
Finally, you need to set expectations. You will have listed many of these out in your description, and now is the time to iron them out in detail. For instance, you want to make sure they are clear on how you want to be updated on task progress, and when you will conduct meetings to share feedback and make adjustments. Make sure that you tell them what your pet peeves are and what you appreciate the most. This will help them to adjust the way the work to make the relationship go more smoothly.
Rinse and Repeat
As mentioned earlier, you want to hire one person at a time so you can improve the process. You may not make a great hire the first time, and there’s a lot you can learn from this experience to make the next try better. You will notice subtle differences in dealing with remote hires as compared to in-house staff. You will also learn more about your own preferences as you start outsourcing and working with remote professionals.
One key takeaway before you start outsourcing this year is to make sure you place a keen focus on communication. Communicating is always vital to any collaborative effort. You have to put more effort into it, however, when dealing with a remote workforce composed of different backgrounds. Overcommunicate rather than taking something for granted. Keep channels open and foster an environment that encourages honest and direct communication.
Most freelancers will be used to dealing with clients from various cultures, but don’t expect them to make all the adjustments. Being consciously careful in all points of engagement with freelancers goes a long way. Respect is very important in building strong working relationships that increase productivity and loyalty and reduce mistakes and turnover.