The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Outsourcing

February 15, 2019

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Outsourcing

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When you’re running your own business, there comes a point when you just can’t do it all. You have a limited amount of time, and it’s important that you find a way to make the most of it. Outsourcing certain tasks to freelancers is a great way to save yourself some time and make it easier to scale your business without pulling all of your hair out because of late nights and stressful deadlines.

Some business owners have negative feelings about outsourcing work because they feel like they’re shortchanging their clients. In reality, there are tasks that are probably best left to others. Outsourcing simple tasks that an assistant can do will allow you to apply more of your high-value time to more challenging work. On the other hand, if there’s work that requires expertise outside of your knowledge base, it’s better to find someone who has the expertise to ensure the best quality of work.

Outsourcing helps you avoid the work that takes up too much time and helps you use that time for the work you enjoy the most. Read on for some of my tips for outsourcing so you can scale your business to its fullest.

Making the Decision to Outsource

It can be difficult to turn over any amount of control when you’ve grown your freelance business from nothing. After all, you know exactly what to expect from yourself, but you can never rely quite as much on freelancers and assistants.

There are likely certain tasks that are either be outside of your skillset or far from what you’re passionate about. Accounting and administrative tasks are prime examples for many freelancers, especially the creative types. Start by outsourcing these tasks that you know someone can do just as well or even better than you. Over time, you’ll get more and more comfortable outsourcing some of your work.

It’s important to keep in mind that outsourcing is actually better for your clients. The more tasks below your experience level or outside of your core competency that you cede, the more time you’ll have for the work that requires your specific expertise. That’s why agencies have a number of employees with different experience levels and skill sets to best meet client needs and operate efficiently.

Choosing What to Outsource

Once you’ve decided it’s time to outsource some of the work to allow you to best use your expertise, your next step is to determine the best tasks and projects to outsource.

There are three main categories of work that can be outsourced.

  • Administrative Work – This includes outsourcing work like record keeping, invoicing, paperwork, and other “must-do” tasks that keep your business running, but is unrelated to the work you provide for your clients.
  • Tasks – Assigning specific tasks associated with projects can help you focus on the areas you have more expertise in. Outsourced tasks can range from entry-level work that a newer freelancer can take on to tasks that require expertise outside of your core competency. For example, if you are a video editor, you may outsource the audio editing or a voiceover.
  • Projects – This is the riskiest version of outsourcing and could also be called “subcontracting.” In this approach, you turn over entire projects to others that you work with and ideally, you bill your clients more than the outsourcer. When you outsource projects, you have less control over the quality of the final product. You also have more opportunities to scale your business and increase your revenue.

Administrative work is generally the easiest for freelancers to outsource because not only is it unrelated to the work that they’re most passionate about, but it’s also very unlikely to be noticed by a client. From administrative assistants to tax accountants, there are plenty of experienced professionals that can handle these tasks.

Assigning out tasks and projects might take a little more time for you to get comfortable, and that’s okay. It takes time to learn how to properly vet and onboard freelancers to ensure that they’ll provide high-quality deliverables that meet yours and your clients’ expectations.

Onboarding Freelancers and Contractors

Knowing which assignments you’d like to outsource is great, but it’s important to have a process in place for handing off the work. Vetting and onboarding freelancers can be time-consuming. Over time, you’ll develop relationships and will be able to turn to your network for almost anything. If you’re just starting, consider past coworkers or friends from college who specialize in the tasks you’re trying to outsource.

Another option is to use a website for hiring freelancers. If your work is largely administrative, hire a virtual assistant who can handle tasks like invoicing, scheduling, and planning.

After you choose someone to work with, it’s important to train them on the task and set expectations. As you go through the processes yourself, it’s helpful to create documentation and instructions that will help them get up to speed quicker. Make the expectations clear, and help them understand why each step is important in the process.

Outsourcing isn’t about walking away from what you love. It’s about assigning out the parts of your business that are best left to others so that you can do more of what you love. Start looking for tasks that others can handle for you so you can scale your business the way you want to.

Jordan McElwain

SEO Specialist

Jordan is our in-house SEO and keywording nerd. She loves diving into data to find relevant topics that our readers might be searching for. You’ll find that most of her pieces are short, sweet, and to the point.