Startups and small businesses can reduce costs by transferring portions of tasks and projects to outside suppliers rather than completing them in-house. Here’s a look at five tips to consider before you get started.
1. Start small.
Lightening the load by employing someone to help you with the grunt-work involved with running a business is a great idea, but there is a limit to how much you let go of – at least in the early stages.
For example, social media account management is a popular task to outsource. The problem is your brand can get diluted if your voice isn’t coming across.
Social media is key when establishing brand identity: from the type of content that is shared, to the language used, to the direct communication with followers. If the person who is put in charge of this task isn’t fully aware of your brand values and brand voice your audience will notice.
Tip: Start with smaller tasks that have less margin for error (e.g., scheduling pre-approved posts, resizing images, conducting keyword research, etc.)
2. Don’t get discouraged.
Not all tasks you outsource will go according to plan. However, just because one freelancer has made a mistake or stops replying to your emails does not mean all tasks will incur a similar fate. You can learn from these experiences. Know that there are thousands of hardworking, honest and talented freelancers out there – it just takes some up-front work to find them.
Tip: Arrange a Skype call before hiring. If the freelancer declines the meeting, it may be a warning sign that they are not reliable.
3. Be approachable.
When something does go wrong: don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. Take into account potential cultural differences, personal issues or something you might be doing. For one, it can be hard for some to ask for help, or admit there is a problem. This could be cleared up with an understanding email or call.
Tip: Make it clear from day one what the procedure is when the freelancer is unsure of something or needs assistance. The more welcome you are to potential problems, the more likely you freelancer is to come to you before making a mistake or disappearing.
4. Make it easy.
It’s easy to forget that your file ‘system’ is not as clear to someone else as it is to you. To save time in the long run, make sure your file system could be navigated by anyone.
If you need to give access to certain files, accounts and so on, making it super easy for the freelancer to understand where everything is and will save questions further down the line.
Tip: Test your file system out on a friend (the less tech savvy the better!)
Even though the aim with outsourcing is to save yourself time, it’s important not to go off-the-grid and expect your new employee to take care of everything with no assistance. Particularly in the early days, make sure to arrange regular check-ins, either via Skype or email.
Tip: Arrange these check-ins before hiring: that way the freelancer is aware of the regularity of communication expected.
Bonus Tip: Reward good work! Everyone likes feeling appreciated. When a freelancer has done a good job: let them know.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Cat Rose Neligan is a freelance designer and consultant based in London. She helps small businesses save time and be more effective through custom-designed strategy plans. Connect with @catrosedesign on Twitter.
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