What I FINALLY Learned About Outsourcing That I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago

By: Brian Horn on: November 3rd, 2010 4 Comments

Something a little different than my usual internet marketing posts..but I want to share this lesson that has literally changed my life.

I fought outsourcing tooth and nail for years…I am a total control freak and I HATED the thought of giving up control to anyone besides me.

I mean, I have spent the last decade learning SEO, web design and online marketing…and I didn’t want to hand it over to anyone.

But I was spending all my time working in my business…and not on my business.

As a small business owner, if you’re spending far too long on work that isn’t in your area of strength or if you see yourself spinning quickly into paperwork hell, it might be time to hire help. You could interview and hire staff to fill the gaps, or you could contract work to outside providers. If you want to be up-to-date on trendy lingo, contracting work to someone outside your company is now called “outsourcing”.

Outsourcing is the newest craze small business owners are trying in order to get targeted help for building their businesses. The term is little more than what we used to refer to as “sub-contracting”. The difference today is that with global technology, you can hire a provider from anywhere in the world to work on your project.

Many expert individuals have left their traditional jobs behind to try freelancing. You can outsource your small business’ web page design and maintenance, graphic arts needs, marketing and promotion, bookkeeping, or administrative tasks to a “for hire” service.

And I found out, that they were MUCH better than me.

You can even outsource someone to mimic you in placing updates on your Facebook page, tweets to your Twitter page and articles in your blogs. (It’s always amusing to see a CEO supposedly tweeting while he’s running a marathon or supposedly vacationing away from technology. It might be a good idea to coach your provider to only make posts that won’t blow your cover.)

Where to Find Providers

You can boost your local economy by hiring providers right in your own city. There are many individuals testing the waters of self-employment. If you want to have a face-to-face with your provider, or if you want someone familiar with your geographic location, hiring local is the way to go.

I found an awesome Virtual Assistant by posting for the position on my Facebook wall.  I had 20+ responses, and narrowed it down to a few…then hired the best one.  Been using her for almost a year now.

If you’re willing to look further for help, you can hire from other parts of your country or even outside your country. Outsourcing abroad often allows you to get work done at rock bottom prices. Look online for freelancer websites, virtual assistance companies, or third-party agencies who list these opportunities.

I’ve been using a guy in Bangladesh for several years now. The last several months, I spent a lot of money and time training him and helping him hire a staff to run my custom link building software for my clients.

Independent freelancers work directly for you and are sometimes contracted through a third party. Virtual assistance companies have in-house staff to do your virtual work. Third-party agencies have a virtual presence only, inviting freelancers to posting a personal profile and work for sale through their site. The agency becomes the stand between you and your freelancer assisting in explaining the process, looking after contracts, licensing, communication, and payment exchanges. These third-party agencies are compensated by taking a percentage of the provider’s earnings.

Benefits of Outsourcing

You could continue to do tedious, time-consuming tasks yourself or spend precious time interviewing and recruiting employees to add to your payroll. Alternatively, you could hire an outside provider on an “as needed basis” and if business is slow, simply cut down on services.

Once you’ve decided what it is you need and have a deadline and price point, look through various freelancer’s profiles and initiate contact with one that resonates with you. Negotiate terms and have them begin your project right away, as simple as that. If you book an overseas expert, you might even get your work done while you’re sleeping.

If you like to fiddle around with your website or blog yourself, you might want to use one of the many “photos for sale” or “articles for sale” sites. Some people search by images, adding relevant ones to your site might draw in clients. You can pick up fresh unique content to add to your blog or website to keep it optimized from “articles for sale” sites. These offer pre-written articles on a number of topics. Or, you can request articles be written on a topic of your choice. When you find the photos or articles you like and purchase the license, you can download them immediately. These are great tools for simple implementation.

Working with an online provider also allows you some anonymity, if that’s what you’re after. You might be a well-known business tycoon or celebrity and your provider won’t ever know it since the third-party site keeps client information confidential.

Tips for Positive Outsourcing

Outsourcing can be a risky deal but the goal is to make your workload easier and enable you to stay on top of things. To make your outsourcing experience a positive one, note these areas:

  1. Do adequate research to find the right provider.
  2. Know what it is you need done, create clear guidelines, and communicate them well.
  3. Remember the providers are doing this as their employment, not as a hobby. Pay them, as you would expect to be paid.
  4. If the provider has gone off course, course correct as soon as possible.
  5. Stay above board. Follow copyright laws and purchase the appropriate licenses. Don’t allow plagiarism or spamming, and pay your bills.

Unloading some of your workload and getting professional help on areas you might not even know exist are good reasons to use outsourcing. Look for a provider and try it out to see if outsourcing is the way to go. If outsourcing doesn’t work out, it is easier and cheaper than having to fire an employee that didn’t work out.

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Brian Horn, of HornDog Search Marketing, is recognized by many as the "Glazer-Kennedy Secret Weapon", because of his role in helping not only Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer with search engine optimization and social media, but also many of the top Information Marketers in the world. Brian shares SEO tips for small businesses over at at his blog, BeOnPage1Blog.com.

    4 Responses

    1. Are there any particular countries or agencies that you tend to gravitate toward, or shy away from? I’ve heard from different sources that the quality can vary greatly depending upon the agency used, and which country they are from. More specifics would be a great help!

    2. Ed Zaloudek says:

      I agree 100%. I had been trying to learn WordPress to set up a Website. I boughr a book, looked at training videos and such but to no avail. I was playing around for almost 3 weeks. I outsourced to someone and they had my site up and running in 2 days. Well worth the money.

    3. Great Advice. I would also recommend everyone to get a copy of the 4-hour-workweek by Tim Ferris. To me the book is a good example of outsourcing “on steroids”. At least that seemed to me (1st Edition of the book though). Just a like any human activity “outsourcing” seems to be a little bit of an art and practice, and a lot, lot, lot of clear understanding and preparation of the tasks you want to outsource.

      Regards,
      Ken

    4. Andy Andrews says:

      I think that outsourcing is the only way to have a real business as a “solopreneur” or “one-person business.” Really, honestly – no one can do it all by themselves! I recommend to my clients that they look for people in the Philippines if they want people overseas. I’ve had great experience with well-trained, industrious, and sunny Filipino employees.

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