This is Week 1 of the November Challenge and the second in the FOCUS series – Outsourcing. I present to you the awesome Maren Kate, queen of outsourcing, to share her top tips.
Hey all, my name is Maren Kate, and a few years ago, I was a budding entrepreneur who was working her little fingers to the bone and miserable.
I had created my first ‘business’ on eBay and though I enjoyed the freedom of not working for ‘the man’, I hated the constant inane tasks I had to do just to keep things rolling.
Years later, I’m a different person all together, as an entrepreneur and a person, but a lot of my growth has happened because of the delightful discovery I made towards the end of my days as a powerseller princess… I found outsourcing, and since then, my business has never been the same.
You may hear a lot of buzz about outsourcing and hiring virtual staff to take care of things as you grow your business, the biggest problem is most people have no clue on how to go about hiring a virtual worker or how to delegate one’s task when they have one.
Here is a down and dirty guide on outsourcing best practices.
1. Finding a good outsourced worker is critical.
One thing I do suggest, no matter where you find your virtual staff is to be sure the site is to focus on finding a quality worker – not focus on paying the least possible.
Great virtual workers can run anywhere from 2 or 3 dollars an hour to 3 times that much depending on if they’re collecting data or coding your site. But being stingy and going with the cheapest option is always a bad deal and can come back to bite you in a big way when you outsource.
2. Describing your project well.
I’ve written a series of free guides that you can find on Scribd here that go into depth when it comes to assigning work and following through with a virtual worker.
Here are my top tips:
- If you’re getting a site designed, create a mock up by using a wire frame like Balsamiq, giving examples of other sites you like and showing the designer a color palette you like beforehand.
- When you’re assigning a project, be sure to be clear & specific and talk in absolutes versus intangibles. Don’t say “I want something that looks good” instead say “I want something that looks like X, works like Y and is red”.
- If you don’t know much about your project, say it’s an iPhone app, do some research on the type of project beforehand. This will help you express yourself better and lead to less confusion between you and your virtual worker.
- If you need admin help, start by spending a few days marking down all the tasks that aren’t absolutely essential for you to be doing (i.e. responding to customer service emails, interfacing with clients or approving blog comments). Then, assign some of the least critical ones to a virtual worker. If they do good with the small stuff, start allowing them to handle larger things, and from there you’ll develop a long term working relationship.
3. Outsourcing is like dating.
Most relationships are great for a time, they have their reasons for being, but after a few weeks or months things tend to wane and ties are broken.
Outsourcing can often be very similar as there are virtual workers you’ll hire for a one time gig (like developing a website) and others you’ll use for a few months (think SEO).
But the few, the special, are the outsourced workers who become a critical part of your team and stay with you for the long term. These outsourcing relationships may take some time to find, but once you’re together you won’t understand how you lived without them.
Maren Kate is an entrepreneur, outsourcing evangelist and blogger of Escaping the 9-5 who co-founded Virtual Zeta an outsourcing placement company that helps match entrepreneurs with a virtual worker that meets their needs.