Small business owners and entrepreneurs are constantly on the lookout for strategies and creative solutions for meeting business goals while spending as little money as possible. Sometimes, all that is required to save time and money as well as great amounts of frustration is to outsource some of the work to skilled service providers.
There are many resources for the small business to draw from for effective outsourcing, but it is important that you learn how to outsource effectively FIRST if you are going to successfully move your business forward. You need a place where you can outsource any project and know that it is going to be completed on time and with high quality.
Lots of businesses outsource a variety of projects like administrative support, graphic design, business strategy, content creation, web design and development and software development to capable and highly skilled professionals. These professionals take some of the stress out of everyday business tasks leaving the business owner with more time to devote to building their company.
Examples of work you can outsource
- Administrative work
- Web design and development
- Graphic design
- Call handling
- Book keeping
- Database management
- Email marketing and list management
- Brochure design
- Stationery design
- Logo design
- Social Media
- WordPress / Blog management
6 tips for outsourcing effectively
#1 Set clear definitions for the size and schedule of projects
While some may feel that this is obvious, many people who are just starting to experiment with outsourcing forget to spell out the scope and time schedule require for outsourced projects. You have to define what your requirements are right up front. In order for service providers to provide accurate and realistic proposals, they must know what your expectations are.
#2 Evaluate service providers the same way you would any employee
While evaluating service providers for outsourcing projects to, ask questions. Hiring anyone, even a vendor is subjective in nature. Ask for references and follow through by getting feedback from previous clients. Address any concerns you may have by engaging the provider in effective dialog so that they have the opportunity to elaborate.
#3 Never base your choices on price alone
It is always tempting to save money, but if the quality of work is not there, you really don’t save anything. Many seasoned outsourcers automatically discard the highest and lowest proposals understanding that a balance of value and quality generally exists somewhere in between.
#4 Ask for samples in provider portfolios
Ask for and check to see if the vendor’s portfolio reflects the expectations you have for your project. If you are still not comfortable, ask for a mock-up or basic outline for the project. It is not all right for you to request completed work to be approved on receipt. No one with the qualifications you expect is willing to provide you with free work.
#5 Be sure to start small
As you are learning how to outsource, it is best to begin initially by interviewing service providers to start with small projects so that you can get a better feel for their capabilities and style. If you are satisfied with what they produce, you will then be able to offer them a larger project with confidence.
#6 Offer payment on clearly defined milestones
Set up regularly scheduled points where you review the project and provide payments to keep the service provider motivated. This helps assure that the project is coming along as you desire and that it will meet your standards.
Some great places to look for skilled workers include;
The beauty of these sites is you can post your job, and include fixed budgets, timescales and manage expectations of the project from the start. You are not taking on a permanent employee, all workers are skilled contractors, so you are not committing yourself on a long term basis and can evaluate your requirements on a task by task basis.
Once you fill out your job requirements, you will have the opportunity to select certain skilled workers, or hire new ones. The payment system is also a secure way of ensuring that both the employer and employee are protected.
I have used all three of these outsourcing sites with great success, and highly recommend them.
With all of the above in mind, you should not forget to negotiate ownership of all the components of the project. There is a difference between having a service provider create custom software that you alone will be using and one that you will be offering for sale. Spell out all the details of how you will be using the finished project up front so that you both can agree on ownership.
Once you learn how to outsource effectively you will be able to focus on other key elements of your business that would otherwise get missed or overlooked while concentrating on getting the regular tasks done. Have you outsourced any elements of your business before? Share your experiences below, I would love to hear how you got on.