How To Make Your First Team Hire: A Step-By-Step Guide To Outsourcing

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Entrepreneurs / 4 comments
Woman meditating at office table

It’s a common trait of entrepreneurs to want to do everything themselves, even when their business is outgrowing them.

I mean who else in the world can do your job better than you right?

The truth is there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of talented freelancers and contractors out there who can, and probably for a fraction of the price and in half the time.

Welcome to the world of outsourcing and building a virtual team of people who can cover the many hats you’re currently trying to wear.

  • Need a web developer or designer on hand to deal with your website and graphics?
  • Want a Google AdWords expert or SEO specialist to drive more traffic to your site?
  • Need an affiliate marketing expert to manage your program?
  • Sick and tired of dealing with email and your calendar and want an assistant to help?

Outsourcing is the key and frankly I’m baffled why more small business owners, and large firms for that matter, are not taking advantage of it.

That’s why the previous post to this has proved so popular. Make sure you read The Beginner’s Guide To Outsourcing And Building A Global Team On A Budget.

Taking The Leap To Outsource Your Work

I want to give you a clear step-by-step example of how you can start out with a small task to test the waters of outsourcing.

I know it can be scary when you’re starting out, but take your ego out of it and realize how much more effective you’ll be when you can focus on using your key strengths and outsource the rest?

Don’t think that by handing over control and tasks to other people means they’ll steal your intellectual property, or run off with your passwords.

Trust me in this day and age, freelancers are in abundance and used to working with online tools and systems to manage your work and that of their clients.

So there’s nothing standing in the way of you growing your business with strategic and selective hiring to cover the tasks you’re having a hard time managing.

An Outsourcing Case Study In Action

Back when I was a co-founder of the tech startup that built FundRazr, I experimented by outsourcing research work to contractors on Upwork.

Upwork is an online community of talented virtual workers from around the world who want freelance work, and companies who need their skills.

1. Create The Job

 We knew what we needed done so I simply wrote up a short job description in a few paragraphs that specifically outlined what we needed.

2. Create the Account

I spent just a few minutes creating a new account in Upwork and setting up the payment source of a credit card (you can use PayPal and direct debit too).

3. Post The Job

I selected `Post a new job’ and cut and pasted in the job description. In the fields below I specified that I wanted them to speak good English (4 out of 5 stars).

I posted in the most important skills they required, I chose 3-4 I believe they needed including `Market Research’ and `MS Excel’.

Posting a job on oDesk to outsource work

4. Publish The Job

After I set the amount for the contract – no more than $10 per hour and set the date from when I would hire (as in right now!) I hit publish. Make it public so every contractor can see it.

Or if you already know of some great contractors who’ve been recommended to you, you can make it `invitation only’ and just send them the link.

5. Selecting Your Candidates

Within 20 minutes I had my first `bid’ on my live job, and by the end of the day I had over 15 candidates who were up for the task.

They had simply responded with a short response on why they’d be the best fit to take on this research work.

I skimmed over their profiles which told me what their skills were, allowed me to look at reviews from people who had used them, view their CV and reply with any questions I had.

Top Tip for selecting your candidates

Do not spend hours going through every single application, you will start to judge for yourself whether this hourly bid is too low, or you can often judge from their profile picture and title whether they’re the right fit, or just mass applying for any job.

If they had specifically spoke to their relevant experience as it related to my job description in their response they got brownie points.

I chose 4 people who fit the bill, asked them a few questions to clarify their experience.

Examples of oDesk contractors and their experience
Examples of Upwork contractors and their experience

6. Making The Hire

I chose two people because it allowed me to judge them side-by-side, if one didn’t workout, I could terminate their contract with the click of a button, and still have another working on the research we needed.

Both had listed a reasonable hourly range for our startup budget. I clicked on the hire button and sent them instructions via the Upwork platform.

This included uploading a short word document with some project parameters they were to follow and report back on, plus a deadline – this is the most important factor.

Top Tip for making the hire

When it’s something as straight forward as research, or an administrative task, or even writing a blog post or creating a graphic, there’s no reason to limit yourself to one contractor.

You never know when you need a back up person on your team so testing them early on gives you more flexibility for future hires.

7. Getting The Outcome You Want

Less than 36 hours later both contractors had sent me in-depth excel spreadsheets with competitor research that had taken them under 5 hours each and cost us a grand total of US $16.

Yep you can do the math, this was dirt cheap and ridiculously useful and way more practical then if I’d done the work using my hourly rate. Plus I don’t like doing the research at the best of times, my strength lies in pulling meaning out of the results.

The outcome? We got the info we needed in a quick turnaround time and went on to use both hires to do further work.

What Sites Are The Best For Outsourcing?

As the virtual work team has taken off, so too has the plethora of cool sites and services to help you find your ideal candidate.

Aside from Upwork mentioned above, I also look to Elance as the two key sites to find the right contractors on.

If you are struggling to even make the hire and don’t want to do the work yourself, then I highly recommend checking out my friend Maren Kate’s great service Zirtual, where they will source and interview your virtual assistant for you.

In fact here’s a handy beginners guide to delegating to your virtual assistant by Maren. is a popular site, particularly for those wanting office managers and assistants who are trustworthy and Mechanicalturk, through Amazon, is great for those in need of development work or even a single task.

You can turn to 99designs and Crowdspring for specific design work like websites, logos and branding. These sites are great as you pay a one off set fee and people bid for your project by actually showing you their designs for your proposal.

And finally if you’re on a real budget you can’t go past where you can find a community of freelancers willing to do just about anything for $5. Generally you pay for what you get, but it’s just the start to finding someone talented to hire on a longer term at their real rates.

So as you can see there’s really nothing stopping you is there.

Making your first hire, or even your fourth or fifth is a lot easier when you have your vision pinned down for your business, and a clear idea of what areas you need the most help in right now.

From there’s about prioritizing your hires, and building a great team of talented people who are smarter than you.

That’s when you start to see real business growth and realize that you don’t have to do it all yourself.

So tell me in the comments below, what is stopping you from making your hire and what you need to delegate most right now?