Discover how to tap into a truly global pool of talent to free up more of your time and build your business faster.
Running an online business is a great way to make a living, but it can also become challenging very quickly. Most startups begin as a founder-run business, with the owner undertaking everything from building the website to answering customer support tickets.
But in an increasingly-complex business environment, that quickly becomes unsustainable. There are just too many things to do:
- sourcing/creating products
- Managing inventory and fulfilment
- Working on SEO
- Spreading the world on social media
- Updating the website
- Managing advertising
- Dealing with technical issues
- Building an email list
- Dealing with customers
- Creating new content
…and so on. When a solopreneur tries to wear too many hats, the result is that nothing gets done efficiently, and the business suffers.
Quite simply, you need help. And thankfully, all the help you need is at your fingertips. Thanks to today’s technology and a boom in outsourcing, it’s easier than ever to find the right people to get the job done. They say that many hands make light work, and that is certainly true when it comes to running an online business.
What Exactly is Outsourcing, Actually?
Outsourcing refers to the practice of bringing in outside help to assist you in running business operations. So instead of hiring full-time employees, you pay people outside the organization to help you get things done. These people may be:
- Freelancers or contractors: individuals who undertake projects for you as and when needed
- Consultants: individuals or agencies who take on larger tasks on a contract basis
- Outsourcing firms: larger businesses that can take on the responsibility of running entire departments
Online entrepreneurs will typically consider hiring freelancers to provide the additional help they need, so that’s what we will focus on here. This may mean:
- hiring a freelance designer occasionally to produce anything from logos to infographics
- Contracting a small SEO agency to work on search engine optimization every month
- Building a team of remote virtual assistants who work full-time hours on a contract basis
The Benefits of Outsourcing
Thanks to rapid advances in technology, you no longer need to have a team of full-time employees working 9-5 in your office. Instead, you can draw on the best talent in the world, hiring people with exactly the right skills to get things done.
If you need a developer with very specific technical skills, it’s much easier to find exactly the right person when you can scour the entire planet to get the exact experience and expertise you need.
Better still, you hire that expertise when you need it, and the move on. You are not stuck with a full-time employee who needs expensive office space, a regular salary, benefits and a whole lot more.
There’s no doubt that outsourcing can save you a lot of money. If you are based in the West, then hiring even an unskilled employee is an expensive business. Yet for the same money, you could probably hired 2-3 qualified, experienced and motivated remote workers from low-cost economies.
Despite the clear benefits, many companies are still reluctant to work with people outside of the business. It’s a big step into the unknown, and they worry about making it work. In particular, entrepreneurs are often concerned with losing control.
If you can’t see your employees at their desk, how will you know if they are working? What if they are just bunking off and wasting time on Facebook instead of getting the job done?
This objection makes no sense because full-time employees are just as likely to waste time as remote workers. One study showed that employees spend as much as eight hours a week wasting time on everything from online shopping to watching baseball on their phones.
The way to overcome the ‘loss of control’ objection is to manage by productivity, rather than hours spent on the job. It’s what gets done that counts – and that’s what you need to measure.
Other entrepreneurs worry about language issues. Won’t working with non-native English speakers have a detrimental effect? Not if you manage the issue correctly.
For sure, there are some tasks where you need people who are fluent in English. And there are plenty of fluent-English speakers available to undertake customer-facing roles. But for tasks such as design and software development, this is much less of an issue. As long as you can communicate effectively, fluency is not a major requirement.
How to Outsource
Not only are there many millions of talented people around the world ready to undertake outsourced work, there are now hundreds of platforms to connect you to them. Here are a few of the most popular ones to get you started:
- Upwork: As the biggest outsourcing platform on the planet, Upwork has millions of freelancers ready to undertake all kinds of work.
- Freelancer.com: Another huge marketplace where you can find the talent you need to get the job done
- Fiverr: A platform where freelancers offer to perform a vast range of ‘gigs,’ from the practical to the downright zany
- TopTal: A freelance marketplace focused on the top 3% of freelancers, for companies who demand the very best talent
- Guru: Another established player with a huge resource of quality talent
- OnlineJobs.ph: Specializes in helping you find low-cost talent from the Philippines (lots of qualified, experienced professionals who speak excellent English)
These are the most popular marketplaces, but there are hundreds more freelance jobs sites – especially in the boom area of content marketing. Sign up with a few and find the one that feels like a good fit for you.
How to Manage Your Team
First of all, let’s talk about how not to manage your team. Because of the ‘loss of control’ fear we discussed earlier, some employers force their remote employees to use software that tracks and monitors their every keystroke during the working day.
Don’t do this! Remote workers hate the intrusion and the lack of trust that this approach implies. If you can’t trust your new hire to get the job done, then you have hired the wrong person. And do you really want to spend your evenings watching endless hours of screen recordings, searching for unauthorized YouTube views?
Instead, set them clear (but realistic) goals to achieve, and measure their progress. Use project management software such as Basecamp, Trello and Slack to keep everybody co-ordinated and working together.
Pay your outsourced workers a decent wage and incentivize them to succeed. You should think of them as valuable team members – not third-world wage slaves to be nickeled and dimed as low as they will go.
Like any aspect of running a business, outsourcing does have its challenges. But when you learn how to overcome these, it’s amazing what you can get done.
You can achieve far more with the help of an inspired team of outsourcers than you could ever achieve alone. So embrace this amazing new opportunity to build a global team of remote workers…and set yourself on the road to a whole new level of success.
This is a guest post by R Palmer from GoFreelance, which helps people create a location-independent income so they can go anywhere, do anything and be anyone.