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Outsourcing to Freelancers

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under People Management

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Time to get help with your growing business? Using freelancers or outsourcing is the way to go if you don’t want to employ staff. How should you go about bringing freelance support into your business?…

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Time to get help with your growing business? Using freelancers or outsourcing is the way to go if you don’t want to employ staff. How should you go about bringing freelance support into your business?

  • Identify exactly what it is that you’re planning to outsource or get help with – you can do this by listing what you do on a daily basis (and whether YOU are really the person to do it) and what you’d like to get some help with (at this stage, don’t be too concerned about whether you think you can afford it).
  • Break it down – what are the steps involved?
  • Start to group activities together – for example writing invoices, collecting payments and sending out welcome packs to new clients could all fall under the heading of ‘administration’. In another example setting up your website or blog, finding a system to run your newsletters and capture the details of people visiting your site could fall under ‘internet marketing’
  • Plan ahead – what’s coming up in the next few months? If have just been booked for a corporate project think about what will happen to the development of your coaching practice while you are engaged in delivery on that project – where will you need help?

The next part of outsourcing (and the part where many people get stuck) is finding someone who can help you. Here’s what to consider:

  • Skills – do they have the right skills to do the job for you?
  • Experience – can they show you what they’ve done before?
  • Recommendation – what do their current and past clients/customers say about them? Ideally talk to people you know and ask them to recommend someone they have already used successfully.
  • Accessibility – will you be able to contact them when you need to? Take note of their time zone if you are working with them internationally. Adherence to deadlines – will they deliver on time? Find out about their current commitments – for example find out if they are due to take a break when your work is due or if they are overloaded with work from other clients.
  • Personality/Ethos – make sure there is a fit between who they are and the work you’ll be asking them to do. A big-picture people person may be fun and motivating to work with, but are they the right person to be doing your highly detailed administration?
  • Team-spirit – for some work you might look for someone who brings ideas to the table and for other types of work someone who will follow your instructions to the letter – know which approach you want for each job.
  • Budget – have an idea of how much you’re prepared to spend and how much additional revenue you will need to bring in to pay for the work to be done. Equally, there may be some things that unless you bring in an expert, you can’t increase your revenue – for example, if you’re at capacity you can’t take on any more coaching clients unless you get someone else to handle your paperwork and admin.

Where do you find the right people? Ask around – talk to people. You can also try doing a Google search and checking out their website or trying business networking sites. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats actually talking to them. If they are local, arrange to meet with them. If they are not, at least speak to them on the phone or on Skype. It’s amazing how much you can tell from the tone of the person on the phone to see whether you are going to be able to work together.Finally remember the old adage ‘if you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs’. It’s often paying a little extra to get someone who knows what they are doing. It might be tempting to ask your nephew who’s good with computers to design your website, but it becomes very awkward when you need to push for a deadline or when it’s not quite what you needed.

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