One of the easiest ways for growing small businesses to save time is to outsource projects and tasks to outside contractors. When you’re first starting out, you may not even have an assistant, let alone an entire staff to support you. No one burns the midnight oil like a small business owner in her first year of business. But letting someone else do the things you don’t know how to do, or don’t want to do, can be one of the smartest decisions you make as a newbie SMB.
There are two challenges entrepreneurs may face when tasked with the potentially difficult choice of outsourcing.
First, your business is so new! It’s your baby, right? You want to have a hand in helping it grow in every area possible. Many of the decisions being made are being made for the first time, and what if someone else screws up? This is what’s known as “founder’s syndrome,” and it’s a difficult disease to cure once it’s entrenched in your thinking.
Second, many SMBs end up outsourcing, but don’t save time at all because they check and re-check the work they’ve asked someone else to do. Not only are they paying a freelancer or specialist for their time; they’re wasting their own time by doubling up on the project or task.
So what’s a time-strapped SMB to do?
Learn to Let Go
Pick and choose a few things that aren’t your favorites. Maybe accounting gives you hives, or perhaps you’d rather get a root canal that figure out the autoresponder functioning in your CRM software. There are plenty of folks out there willing to help, and just as many people who are fantastic at what they do!
Create a Budget
If you haven’t even sold any widgets yet, how are you supposed to know how much you can afford to pay a freelancer? First, determine how much you’re paying yourself. Say you’re averaging $40/hour in the beginning. Then decide how long it takes you to do those things you despise. As long as you’re paying your freelancer less than that, you’ll be making money. You’ll be able to attend to other income-generating areas of your business and save time doing it.
Create a “Project” (Even if the work is on-going)
A virtual assistant or web-based freelancer is probably your best bet when first dipping your toes into the outsourcing pool. An online relationship is low risk; you don’t have to invest any time training someone, the people pretty much come to you, once you post a job, and there is no employment contract or long-term commitment.
If you’re looking for someone to manage your social media accounts, for example, you can create a job posting on a freelance website like Elance or Odesk. Although you’ll be looking for someone for the long haul, there is no need to tell the contractors that
Create a listing for a month-long project, or however long you think it would take you to determine if you like this person’s work. If you’re unhappy, you can give the freelance feedback and see how they apply the changes. When the month is up, you can part ways with no hard feeling.
If, however, the freelancer is helping you save time and money with some seriously amazing work, you’ll have the option to turn the project into one that is on-going
Check your Ego
Whether or not we admit it, we all have that fearful voice in the back of our heads that wonders “How could anyone do this as well as me?” This is especially true when it comes to something as hyper-personal as our small business.
When thoughts like “What if they’re not good enough?” and, “What if they screw everything up?” start coming up, consider the following questions instead
What if I find someone that’s totally awesome and has all the skills I’m looking for?
What if I find someone that’s better than me, and is completely affordable?
Just think of what you could do with a freelancer like that!
In your first year of business, and every year thereafter, time is money. You need to save time in order to make money, and outsourcing is the perfect way to do it.
What has been your best experience with a freelance contractor?
photo credit: cloudesk.org