A common trap of entrepreneurship is the desire to do everything yourself. And it really is detrimental to your success. You end up focusing on things that aren't your expertise, and spend less time using your God-given talents.
And believe me, I understand how hard it is to relinquish control of parts of your business.
But really think about it for a second… what is your time worth to you? If you did the formula I created in an earlier blog post on time management, you might value your time at $150 – $200 per hour. So, why on earth would you do a task that's worth $10 – 20 per hour?
You may not think about it that way, but you have to. When you waste time trying to figure out bookkeeping, web design, etc… you are taking away from your valuable time. There are other people who are much better at it and cost less. So why not use them?
And this can apply to anything, from business tasks to personal tasks. I outsource my house cleaning, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, etc… so I can focus on not only what I am good at, but what is important to me.
I want my down time to be spent relaxing with my family, not mowing the lawn.
In order to achieve maximum efficiency, you really have to consider outsourcing tasks to other people. However, this does not mean that you have to have employees.
Today, I'm going to show you strategies for leveraging the wide world of freelancing. And how it can not only be a huge boon for your business, but also be the start of wonderful, mutually beneficial relationships with other workers that last for a long time.
How to Find the Right Person
It is easier than ever to find people who are willing and able to do things for you.
There are countless websites that connect freelancers with people looking to hire them for their talents and skills. Whether you are in the market for graphic designers, copywriters, translators, or other tasks that need to get done in your business, help can be found easier than ever in today's web-connected world.
These are people who do what they do best day in and day out. And just like you, they're experts at it. So, naturally, they are going to do a better job at those things than you would if you try do them yourself.
And with the global nature of the internet, it really won't cost you as much as you might think.
You see, a dollar in North America or a Euro in Europe might be worth a lot more somewhere else. So, you may have people from third-world countries who can do quality work for you at a fraction of the cost.
Now, that isn't to say you should exclusively hire people because they are inexpensive; quality is more important than price. But either way it will cost a lot less than what your time is really worth.
There are websites that specialize in freelance work, like elance.com, 123outsourcing.com, 99Designs.com and fiverr.com. They each offer a slight variation of the same service – an auction-like system where you post a job and freelancers apply to you with a proposal, or even a package of designs. You then choose the best match (which, again, might not necessarily be the cheapest), and hire that person.
It might seem scary that you aren't able to actually meet the person doing work for you, but there are a few ways to ensure you at least get someone who is competent.
Doing Your Research
Many people do, and hiring freelancers works the same way. These websites are designed so you can check reviews on every person when considering working with them.
And much like Amazon.com, people will not hesitate to share their opinions on a freelancer, good or bad. Reviews are generally written in the heat of the moment so you rarely have to worry about false information.
This is incredibly beneficial to you, because you can discern someone's ability before you even work with them. Though, I should point out, that if someone is new to the website, they may not have any reviews yet, so you must use your discretion in those cases.
Another way to filter your replies on these websites is a process I like to call “self-selection.”
When posting your job offer, include very specific instructions for the freelancers to follow when applying. For example, you could ask them to answer three questions in their proposal. They do not have to be hard questions; just something specific they have to do.
You may be surprised by how many people can't follow directions. By asking them to do something specific, you weed out those who aren't paying attention, and are just spamming job openings with proposals.
It's important to hire someone who actually took the time to read your job posting all the way through and sent you a personalized response.
Now, once you've gone through the stage of weeding out, depending on the job you want to outsource, you can take it even further. If it's something menial, but requires attention to detail, you could do another weeding out process by asking them to chat with you at a very specific time, like 11:16am.
Yet again, you will be surprised by how many people can't even do that.
If the job is something more creative or results-based like copywriting, content writing or graphic design, then you can still do this extra weeding out step, but there is something else I highly recommend you do:
Engage with more than one person.
Sometimes you just can't know if someone is right for the job until you give them a trial run. So, in those cases, hire two or three people, have them all do the same small trial assignment, and pick the best one to work with. It might be a little more money upfront, but it will save you a LOT of headaches down the road.
Working Well With Others
Sometimes you will have the opportunity to work with people who use English as a second language.
Like I said, the internet is a global economy, so you can get a lot of value for your dollar by hiring those who live in other countries. Both you and whoever it is you work with will benefit from the exchange, so do not feel guilty about this.
Now, in these cases, sometimes communication can be difficult, so many business owners shy away from even trying. But there are ways around it:
- Hire someone with good language ability to manage outsourcers. A colleague of mine has a team of Filipinos who do freelance work for him, but he is not able to manage them well due to language barriers. So, instead, he hired a man who is familiar with the language and the culture, as well as English, to be their manager. This approach costs a bit more but still adds up to be a better deal financially than other alternatives.
- Find an ex-pat to interview them. Chris Drucker, of Virtual Staff Finders, offers a service where he will interview folks in the Philippines face-to-face to find the best freelancers for your needs. He charges a flat fee of $300. Not a bad price to ensure you are getting quality workers. Click here to view more details
Basically, you want to keep your options open at all times, and decide what works best for you. But always keep an open mind to different ways of working with others.
Create Lasting Relationships
When you get a client, you hope they will come back if they liked your product or service, right?
Well, you should feel the same way about freelancers. As I said before, these are people who are experts at what they do, and if you work well together, you must nurture that relationship.
Many business owners drop someone once a project is over, treating the engagement as a one-time deal. Instead, you should keep in touch with those who performed well and utilize them as much as possible, much like you would with clients.
You'll benefit more from nurturing these relationships than continuously hiring strangers. They'll understand you and how you think, and your projects will get better and better results, in some cases being completed in less time than before.
So when planning your next product launch, updating your website, or even preparing for tax season, take the time to find someone who can do tasks and projects for you. Not only will you have more time to do what you love, but you will have more time to enjoy life.
And isn't that why we start our own businesses in the first place? You bet!