5 Tips for Outsourcing Every Online Entrepreneur Needs
There are a lot of reasons that people become online entrepreneurs. Maybe you saw a niche that needed to be filled and thought that you could do it better than anyone else. Maybe you wanted to be your own boss without the expense of maintaining a physical shop. Or maybe you’re just a loner and prefer to work by yourself. Whatever your reason for starting up an online venture on your own, though, odds are you’ve never considered outsourcing your work. Well, that’s about to change, because outsourcing can be one of the top ways to increase the efficiency and profitability of your business.
The main reason behind outsourcing work is that no matter how awesome you are, you’re just not going to be the best at everything. Some things are a better use of your time than others. As discussed in our article here, if you’re an accountant, it just doesn’t make business sense for you to waste your time trying to figure out how to design a website. Instead, try hiring expert freelancers to take care of all those incidental tasks. It’ll save you time and stress by freeing you up to do what brings the money in.
So how do you go about ensuring that you have a good outsourcing experience? Read on to get a few of our top tips.
1. Use as many freelance websites as possible at the same time
This may seem counter-intuitive since the whole reason for outsourcing is to save time, but one of the key steps to success is taking the time to give yourself the widest range of options. David Teten of Forbes Magazine emphasizes that it’s important not to just hire the first person that pops up, so be sure to look around.
Don’t worry, though. Your first time hiring a freelancer might be a little time-consuming, considering the hours spent posting job orders, screening candidates, and establishing relationships, but you won’t have to go through that whole song and dance every time you need a piece of work done. Once you’ve got a couple of good outsourcing options on your roster, you’ll be glad you spent the time doing that initial footwork.
So where exactly do you go to find freelancers? We’ve got a great list right here. Pick out a couple that will suit your personal tastes and spend some time finding experts who can deliver the results you need.
2. Join forums related to the job you need done
Forums can be a great way to access experts from around the world on any topic you can think of. You’ll be able to ask questions, look over candidates’ posting history, and learn more about the topic itself. In terms of outsourcing, this gives you two major benefits: More familiarity with the topic and a broader range of hiring options.
More familiarity with the topic might seem like the very thing you’re trying to avoid by outsourcing your project, and to some extent that’s true. You absolutely do not need to learn every detail on the topic. It pays, though, to understand the basics. Knowing the right terminology and basic methods will allow you to know what’s feasible and to avoid getting ripped off by someone claiming to do the impossible.
The other advantage of working with forums is that it will give you access to a whole world of experts that aren’t on the freelancing sites. This has both pros and cons. On the plus side, hiring someone who doesn’t normally freelance might give you better rates, and it could give you a more unique product from someone who isn’t just checking off the normal boxes. On the downside, someone isn’t used to working this way might also be inexperienced about meeting deadlines and have a higher possibility of blowing off your instructions to do their own thing. You know your business best, so use your own judgment here to select which option is best for you.
Just where are these forums? Well, there are a lot of them, and the ones you need will vary based on the job you need to outsource. Your best bet for seeking them out is to go to a popular industry website. Many have lists like this one listing the best forums for their particular discipline.
3. Be realistic with your budget
This rule is important, but it goes both ways. It’s true that you get what you pay for. That $50 web design is going to look like exactly what it is: A rush job by an inexperienced designer. If you want a professional product, you need to be prepared to pay professional rates. You’ll win in the long run by having great results and a good working relationship with someone that you can call whenever you need them.
On the other hand, you should also be realistic about what exactly you need. If you’ve just started up your first blog, it’s unlikely that you need the same work used by the Huffington Post. Don’t let yourself be talked into buying more than you need. Most freelancers are honest, but there are always those that will try to take advantage of an enthusiastic newbie by selling them services they’ll never need at prices that are way out of line with industry standards. Make yourself a solid plan for exactly what you need and stick to it.
4. Be VERY specific on your job description
One of the fundamentals of business is good communication, and that is never more true than when outsourcing work. You don’t need to micromanage, but understand that the other person can’t give you what you want if you don’t make it clear what that is. If you ask for ‘500 words about clothes for dogs’ when you want a search-engine optimized sales piece on the health benefits of coats for greyhounds in cold climates, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get back a funny opinion piece on how dumb dogs look in clothes.
How can you prevent this? Think carefully about exactly what you want. In addition to the size and purpose of the project, specify the tone and style that you want. If it’s going to be visual, note any color scheme that you’d like and whether you want it to be minimalist, retro, etc. And don’t be afraid to be detailed. Any professional will be happy to have specific instructions, since it will save time and money for both of you.
5. Make them sign an NDA
“These are people you’ve never worked with before. Isn’t it a little too early to reveal your trade secrets and give them a peek under the kimono?” – Craig Delsack, New York start-up attorney
It’s absolutely true that no matter how thoroughly you research their qualifications, the people you’ll be working with are essentially strangers. If the project will reveal to them anything about your business secrets, tactical moves, or future projects, it’s a good idea to get them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. There are a few things to keep in mind with this.
First, distinguish between trade secrets and confidential information. Confidential information includes anything that might harm your business: Current negotiations, future plans for expansion, and so on. Confidential information is typically important temporarily. Trade secrets, on the other hand, are the backbone of your business, things that would absolutely ruin you if your competitors ever discovered them, like your proprietary spice mix or the secret algorithm behind your new software. In general, you’re better off not outsourcing projects that will reveal your trade secrets if at all possible. Even with an NDA, you can only trust people so far. Confidential information, though, is generally not so valuable that someone would risk breaking an NDA over it.
Second, do your research into the specific NDA form you use. Be careful to specify the exact time frame that the other person will have to remain silent, and read the form thoroughly. Some of them only require silence but don’t limit use of the information, so the person could theoretically start up their own company to take advantage of it rather than selling it.
It’s certainly a lot to take in at first, but ultimately outsourcing can be the perfect way to streamline your online business so that you can get back to doing the important things. Taking care to select the right freelancers and develop good relationships with them will lead to great dividends in the long run.
Do you have any tips for dealing effectively with outsourcing?
Share them in the comments, and help out your fellow entrepreneurs!