You may have heard this quote: “Don’t put your focus in your business, focus on your business.”
Today, it translates to don’t bother focusing on your business, focus on outsourcing your business. Your business has many different aspects, and once you start outsourcing, you literally have time to do what you love and get people to start working for you in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan, there is no need to wait for it.
Way back in 2009, I visited Vegas to talk about outsourcing since we were the outsourcing partner for a digital marketing conglomerate in the US. We understood processes, we understood customer support, we were an outsourcing internet agency offering tons of different digital marketing tasks.
I got a pretty good idea of why smart companies outsourced. The great Bill Gates said? “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
The classic reasons to outsource is that it’s quicker, cheaper, and in many cases you find others have resources and better skills and experience than you do in that particular task. So if you can find someone who does a job better than you, cheaper than you, faster than you, it’s just kind of a no-brainer.
The four-hour workweek is my Bible. It’s the work smart, not hard dictum. Better use of your productive time. Time is money so if you aren’t doing the job, save your time, so that’s another great reason why you can start outsourcing your operations and really using your time for running your business.
No 9-to-5 jobs, you can have people work for you 24 x 7, 365 days a year and always keep the machine running. This gives you more time for leisure and better work-life balance. Use the time saved to educate yourself and invest in your business.
The four Cs of outsourcing
Cost: Cost is a massive component. Are you able to get a lot more bang for your buck?
Consistency: Is the outsourcing team consistently delivering results that you want? If they aren’t, find somebody else who can deliver consistently what you are looking for.
Competence: Are they using the same tools that you are using? Can they pick up your email and copy paste and set up your email auto responders? Can they learn new software? If not, it increases time spent and reduces efficiency so you end up with a product that’s substandard.
Culture: Culture is a really big one as there are different worlds, people, ways of speaking, languages, and attitudes to consider.
What is non-negotiable?
You’re looking for efficiency and accountability, and need an outcome-based, quantified result. How do you quantify the work that you’re handing over to an outsourcer? What kind of results are you hoping for? Look for predictability. If an outsourcing company cannot manage quality control, then there is no company.
It really boils down to the kind of quality that you are getting on a consistent predictable basis to scale an agency. The more processes they have in place the more efficient they are, and the more predictable the results
What the freelancer wants from you
According to me, having clear objectives is the first formula in successful outsourcing. If you walk into a McDonald’s and say ‘I need a number 5’, it’s easy to give you a number 5. If you just say ‘I’m hungry’, they’re probably not going to be able to satisfy your requirements.
Ideally, what should you outsource? Jobs that are well defined, repetitive, and you know that can’t really go too wrong. Or expertise that you don’t have. if you don’t know how to build a website, outsource it to somebody who knows how to build a website. Specify. Say that I need my website to look like this; this is the feature that I like from website X, this is another feature from another website, etc.
How it works
With technology, anything is possible. Options such as screen sharing, Skype, webinars, and others help you connect with your team. Make yourself clear; say here’s a video on how you do the first one, now go ahead and do the next 20. It’s not that difficult not to screw up as long as you get the information.
The more you invest time in handing over information or instruction, the better it will be. Outsourcing really becomes successful when the outsourcer knows what they’re supposed to do.
How do I find the perfect one?
There are many options to find that perfect person to outsource. From Elance to Rent a Coder and Guru, we have come a long way. These are fantastic opportunities to find really talented people and it’s difficult to go wrong if you go through the protocol. Look at reviews, testimonials, and hours billed. Someone who’s done over 50,000 hours and has got a five-star rating knows what they are doing.
But you need to vet them, check for portfolios, references, and testimonials. Don’t just go by a good-looking website. They may have outsourced it! Check for similar experience. That’s a big one, is if you look at websites like Freelancer they show you all the completed projects.
So if you are able to identify a project that matches your requirements it makes sense to get the company that has just delivered a five-star rating for pretty much the same project. That way they’re not reinventing the wheel; you know for a fact they know how to deliver the project out there. Ask for three references. Spend that time and effort in really validating your outsourcing provider.
A task for a virtual assistant could go to Fiverr or Upwork. First research that all these companies have more than 1,000 hours of experience. If they don’t make that cut let’s refine it a little more. Google and check their processes, verify them, individual versus company, individuals…you might find someone who is really great to work with but that’s not sustainable, you have to have a backup.
Don’t squeeze a discount here, at least initially; at the start, you just want to get the best team. If you’re working with a new agency, ask them straight up: what are your capabilities, what are things you handle, how do you rate them, and give us a definite list of things you can do.
How much should it cost me?
So there is always going to be the argument, should you have a package or should you have an hourly rate? Here’s the difference between task outsourcing versus outcome-based outsourcing.
If you’re well established I would think that outcome would work for you. If you’re just getting started, you’ve got a smaller budget, start outsourcing things that are easy, start understanding how outsourcing works because it’s really a new component of business. You may have got your business perfect, but outsourcing is a new skill set for you to learn so you can scale up.
Sustaining a relationship
If you’ve got a good outsourcing team you can start depending on them heavily. Set expectations. Be appreciative, let them know they’re doing a good job. This is something that’s really underrated. We know, because we were once an outsourcing company.
If a customer is being nice to us, you’re going to be more nice back and you start looking forward to them, you start responding quicker to them. If they give you feedback, take it well. Trust your vendor until you have a grievance.
Always pay your vendor on time, always be a quick responder; you don’t want to be the bottleneck over there. Answer the vendor’s questions clearly and completely, and support your vendor’s business. That’s a big one. If you’re helping a business grow, you’re automatically that much more valuable to that business.
Bottom line: be nice. Always encourage feedback. Normally, in any relationship trust is a big issue. But in this case you don’t have to trust, you just track.
At the end of the day, outsourcing is like dating, not an arranged marriage. Both parties are free to walk away if things don’t work out.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)