Note from Colin: Outsourcing is one of those skills that I’m not very good at yet, but I’m convinced that if I hang out with Maren Kate often enough I’ll pick it up by osmosis. Because it is such a potentially-useful tool to have in your belt, I’ve asked MK to write an introduction to outsourcing for my readers, and she’s come through. Enjoy!
I work an insane schedule, on paper at least. My productive hours per day usually average 15 and that’s pure, unadulterated work. Strangely though I have one of the most flexible and free schedules of anyone, I travel a lot, wake up late and spend my evenings socializing. Many people think I’m ridiculously productive, burning the midnight oil till the wee hours of the morn when in reality I just outsource… it’s that simple.
Don’t shudder just yet… I’ve never heard more people react negatively to a word that so few understand. Often people look at me like I said “I just sacrifice babies” or “I just have the plague” when in reality outsourcing can be a beautiful thing between two people that benefits both parties… now this sounds weird. But it’s not! Really outsourcing is something I’ve used since I got started on my entrepreneurial journey and it’s something I couldn’t have succeeded without.
It’s what gives me the freedom to go swimming in the middle of the work day while simultaneously getting projects done and bringing in income and if you desire to live an unconventional life and build a unique business as I do then I’d love to share with you just how outsourcing works.
Why Outsourcing Works
You know the saying “if only I had more hours in the day”? Well luckily we all can tap into an endless supply of additional working hours each day through simple outsourcing. It’s as easy as knowing you have 5 tasks that need to be done but realizing you only have time for 2, this is where hiring a virtual worker to help lighten the load comes in. They can take over the other 3 or they could take over all 5 and free you up to grow your business or make your current activities more productive. Virtual workers (also known as outsourced workers) are so amazing because they not only lighten your load but can help you grow your business exponentially for much less than hiring someone in house.
Outsourcing many of your business activities to virtual workers can help you work less, earn more and build things faster than you would ever be able to do by yourself. It also allows you freedom of location since you don’t have to be stuck in an office watching over employees like a mindful babysitter. Virtual workers are used to working on their own and carrying out instructions without a hitch. It’s what they do day in and day out, so all that’s needed from you are the instructions to get them going.
I hate it when people paint an overly optimistic picture without being reasonable, so I won’t do that here. There are many pitfalls to outsourcing, fortunately though they can be avoided 99% of the time if you’re smart about it.
One of the biggest outsourcing problems people have boils down to communication, the employer says “I want a logo” and the virtual worker makes one, but problems arise when their idea of a good looking logo and the employers are vastly different. This is a valuable lesson, not just for outsourcing but for business in general – it’s important to learn how to delegate early and often.
Practice being very specific when you assign tasks to others, this will take care of most of the problems that would normally come up. Don’t just say “I want this to be red”, instead go to ColourLovers.com and send them a link to the exact shade of red you want. On the same note never say “I want you to build me a website”, instead spend an hour browsing the websites you like the most and creating a project plan for your virtual worker complete with examples, colors & fonts you’d like to see implemented in the design. Good ole’ communication will solve a lot of your outsourcing problems before they start.
Another outsourcing pitfall is not choosing wisely. Never go with the cheapest virtual worker just because they’re inexpensive or you’ll quite often get the cheapest results. Instead find the person that resonates the best with you & your specific needs through interviews and reading over their resume.
Avoiding outsourcing pitfalls can be summed up by doing your due diligence when hiring a virtual worker and communicating well when working with one. Do these simple things and your outsourcing experience will be 100 times better.
Outsourcing as a way of life
If you are determined to live an unorthodox life like many who read this blog, then I’d like to share with you some of the ways outsourcing can allow you to enjoy more freedom, both personally and in your business.
I personally have used outsourcing to grow my business while I travel and pursue other interests. Of course it’s not a completely hands off thing, because as all good business owners know that would be foolhardy. Instead outsourcing allows you a lot of flexibility when it comes to building a mini empire that will allow you to travel the world, to spend more time with your loved ones or to seek adventure far and wide.
Outsourcing gives you a team that is constantly working on the most essential parts of your business while you do other things. As you delegate more to your virtual workers, you’ll end up with more time on your hands that you can use in many ways. Anything from globe trotting, to waking up late, or simply spending more time brainstorming the next creative steps that will take your business to the next level.
It’s like gaining an extra 8 hours a day that you’re free to do anything you like with, as long as you use your noggin and delegate intelligently to your outsourced team. It’s not perfect but outsourcing can play an essential role in building the business and life of your dreams.
Eager to outsource now? Check out Maren Kate’s job board, which connects employers and virtual workers to each other free of charge, here.
Maren Kate Donovan is a miniature entrepreneur with big ideas and more than enough know-how to take over the world, Napoleon-style (but, you know, without being exiled to Elba). Check out more of her writing and keep up with her empire-building ambitions at Escaping the 9 to 5, and check out her Twitter updates here.