For entrepreneurs, the $64,000 question is, as $64,000 suggests, all about the money.
That goes double for building an effective and productive team — one that allows you to run your business anywhere; from your home, office, or while on the move.
The fact is, it’s more financially efficient to hire an outsourced team than to hire a full-time staff. Data from Drexel University’s Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship shows that the real cost of a full-time, salaried employee is roughly twice the amount you’ll pay a contractor who does the same work.
For us small business owners, especially those of us who want to stay mobile and flexible, that’s where a good outsourcing program can help. It’s no secret that team-building via the outsourcing route can be affordable and effective but here are four rules maximize your outsourcing campaign:
Rule 1: Do a trial run
Let’s say, you’re looking for a software developer (try a site like oDesk.com to find good candidates). Once you have screened a pool of candidates, have each handle a small project first to gauge their productivity. That will save you money and time before signing anyone to a long-term contract. To test their off-site capabilities, have the contractor use Skypeor a similar mobile communication technology.
Rule 2: Emphasize clarity and transparency
To find good candidates you won’t be seeing on a day to day basis, communication is key. Make sure your contractor knows exactly what is expected, how the work should be done, and how you’ll communicate on a regular basis (again, Skype is the preferred option here — it’s more personal than smartphone or email.) Make sure you have a clear project brief written up that both parties read and agree to before you move forward.
Rule 3: Start with your technology or marketing needs
By and large, technology and marketing outsourcing are the easiest (and most affordable) places to launch your mobile outsourcing campaign. Building a website, printing business cards, coding software, or creating a social media campaign can be done for the least amount of cash outlay, but it will take up significant and valuable chunks of time on your own. So make sure you catalog your process, and weed out what works and what doesn’t with your technology-outsourcing program. Keep what works best (and get your contractors to add to your training and process guide) and then make sure you use it as you add more contractors in other areas like accounting or marketing.
Rule 4: Watch out for language issues
Mobile outsourcing isn’t clean-cut, and nowhere is that more true than with potential language barriers. You might find the most talented software programmer in India or the best copywriter in China. But if you can’t communicate clearly with them, you’ll fall behind on your benchmarks. Make sure you hire a contractor who shares your first language -otherwise, you’ll likely lose progress and lose the key details. Test a foreign candidate out on the phone or via email – check for communication levels and response times. Both are great indicators or successful mobile outsourcing hires.
In general, you want to check off two goals when hiring mobile contractors: Can they do the job more effectively than you can, and can they get the job done on time?
If so, chances are you’ve landed a winner, and saved a lot of money in the process.
About the Author: Brian O’Connell is a freelance business journalist writing for Vistaprint, a global provider of custom checks, business cards and other marketing services for small and micro businesses. Brian is a former Wall Street bond trader turned professional journalist, who’s covered entrepreneurship and business issues for many renowned business publications, including the Wall Street Journal, TIME, CNBC, and TheStreet.com.
Tell me what your biggest challenge is with outsourcing aspects of your business?
This is a sponsored post by Brian O’Connell