“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”
Are you familiar with this song? When you manage a business, sometimes, you can’t help but feel this way, am I right? You can only do so much, but there will come a point that you will really need assistance. Hey, that’s not a bad thing! It only means the business is growing. There’s more work, therefore, you need more people. That is something you should be happy about.
Businesses, especially small or online businesses, prefer to outsource. If you are hearing this word for the first time, let me tell you briefly what outsourcing is. Outsourcing is obtaining goods or services from an external or outside provider, instead of using your in-house employees. Your provider can be a local or a foreign person or company. Small businesses usually go for outsourcing because it is usually cheaper.
Today, I want to dole out some tips on how to fast-track your online business’ success through outsourcing.
- Know Why
First things first – know why you want to outsource. Do you want to cut costs? Are you understaffed? Do not just outsource because you feel like doing it. I do not recommend experimental outsourcing. You know, hiring someone externally just to see which is cheaper or better. For you, it may just be outsourcing innocuously, but for your service provider, it may mean their bread and butter. So when you decide to outsource, make sure that you are ready to commit.
- Keep Internal Employees Close
When you decide to outsource, you cannot keep it a secret from your current and internal employees. Expect varying reactions from them – some will feel anxious, while some will feel incompetent, unappreciated, or lacking. Anxious, because it doesn’t take two wits to know that outsourcing is cheaper. This will automatically raise questions like, “Is the company folding?” or “Am I getting fired?” Others might feel that what they’re doing isn’t enough or they’re doing something wrong. Please quash all these fears right away if they are false. But, if it is true and you are trying to cut down on costs and people, I suggest you tell them before you outsource. This way, your current employees can be given ample time to explore other opportunities and this news will not come as a shock.
- Set the Tasks and Timeline Clearly
Now that you have hired someone external to do some tasks for you, the first thing you have to do is clearly declare what he has to do and when you expect it to be done. Tell your outsourced employees what you hope to accomplish and what you require from them. This is crucial because you don’t want to waste time or money; especially since most businesses outsource to cut down costs. You also want to make it clear when you want the project to be completed. This way, everything will be in line with the deadline set and no extra adjustments should be made.
- Hire Like It’s Full-Time
I get that for some businesses, outsourcing is done to cut down costs, but that should not mean you can compromise quality. When looking for vendors, ask pertinent and relevant questions. Look at their profile and portfolio. Check their references and you can even get in touch with their previous clients. Hire like you are hiring them to do a full-time work. Remember, it is your right to make sure that the person or people you are hiring is up for the job. Feel free to raise your concern, if there’s any.
- Don’t Look at the Price
As in any other purchase or services acquired, in outsourcing, you also get what you pay for. I would strongly advise you against choosing a vendor just because they are cheap. That is a big NO from me. Many times I have heard of friends complaining about their service provider and when I try to elicit details, I would always end up telling them, “You get what you pay for,” because it is true. Don’t expect a diamond when you just paid a dime.
- Take Baby Steps
With tip number 3 in mind, the best I can ask you to do is start small. You don’t have to hire an entire team or company right away. You can start hiring a freelancer first giving a project that is small and simple. This way, you will get to know your vendor better; their style and capabilities. This way, trust is built and you would be more confident to assign major projects.
- Establish Workflow
When outsourcing, your vendor will most likely not report to your office. Sometimes, he won’t even be in the same country as you are, so it is very important that both of you come to an understanding of how things will work. How productivity will be measured, what should be the day-to-day tasks, and what is expected from them by the end of the day. You can also think of the most effective tool to utilize and consolidate all the tasks.
- Keep in Touch
After establishing the workflow, it is of utmost importance that you keep communication lines open with your vendor. Outsourcing involves a huge amount of trust, so when employers go missing-in-action, service providers tend to get antsy. Make sure that you always keep in touch, not necessarily about work, but just to see how they’re doing and let them know that you are available to answer any question they might have. Encouraging your service provider can also boost his morale.
- Who Owns It?
It being the work produced. Ownership can be negotiated. For some vendors, they give up ownership as long as their work can be part of their portfolio and only for the sole purpose of that. Of course, it all depends on the resulting work product. But at the end of the day, always find a mutually beneficial ground to make sure that this negotiation does not turn sour.
- Make It Official
As I’ve mentioned before, outsourcing involves trust. But to make sure that both parties involved are covered, I suggest you draw a contract detailing the tasks, conditions, and stipulations. This way, things are done professionally and fairly.
Building an online business is no easy task. Building it through outsourcing makes it more challenging; but if done with the right people, there is nothing you cannot do. If you want to learn more about outsourcing, visit Outsource Accelerator – your one-stop site for everything outsourcing.