Outsourcing Tips: How to Find the Right Specialist for Business
Running a small business may sound simple when you first start out, but soon enough you will realize that there is more to it than you thought. The core business may be right up your alley, but how about the other small but necessary tasks?
Let us say you start an online business selling made-to-order cakes. You are a great baker, and your cakes are an instant hit with all your customers. The trouble is, only a few people know about you. You know you need to do online marketing, but you do not know where to start? This is when you should consider outsourcing.
Outsourcing is Not as Easy as It Looks
Outsourcing is farming out work you cannot or would rather not do in-house. In our example above, you can hand over the online marketing to an experienced freelancer, sit back, and relax. However, it is not as easy as it may seem. Many startups have learned this the hard way.
Back in the day, you would place a help wanted ad, and personally interview all applicants for a project. Nowadays, everything happens online. It is convenient, but there are drawbacks. The Internet is bristling with freelancers offering their services, claiming to be experts. They promise you the sun and the moon. The problem is, you only have their word for it. Their “experience” may be non-existent, or not as much as they claim. The work would be sub-standard, and leave you worse off than before. Even if they are experienced, they may be juggling several projects at once, which can lead to missed deadlines, or failure to complete the project altogether. It can lead to many headaches, and may even have a serious impact on your business.
There is Light at the End of the Tunnel
Fortunately, it is not impossible to find the help you need. You can take full advantage of the outsourcing option while protecting yourself from its many pitfalls. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps.
1. Find Reputable Resources
Your biggest problem as an outsourcing client is finding a pool of freelancers that can do what they say. Quite a few reputable job boards do much of the vetting for you by maintaining a large pool of carefully screened jobseekers.
Many job sites maintain a profile of each candidate so that you can check on their work history. You will see reviews of previous clients, which can help you choose the right candidate. If you are not satisfied with the work, you can complain to the job board administration. Many will blacklist that freelancer; some may even give you a refund. The point is, going to a reputable source gives you more options than if you directly hire a freelancer.
2. Identify Your Needs
Be very specific about what you want in your ad posting. Establish clear goals, requirements, and deadlines so you will get applicants that have the skills you need. It eliminates guesswork, as freelancers are not mind readers. Withholding important information about the project only wastes everybody’s time. By establishing your goals and expectations at the start, the freelancer will be able to establish realistic time estimates and rates that you can both live with.
3. Examine Each Bid You Receive Carefully, and Go through Freelancers’ Profiles
You want to cut costs, but going with the lowest bid may cost you more in the end. Before making a shortlist of your candidates, look through a candidate’s profile. An experienced freelancer will likely ask for a higher rate, but it may be well worth it. Ask for references and actually check them out. Ask for a portfolio or samples of their work and look through them. Only do interviews, maybe even a test, with just the top two or three candidates so that you can devote more time to determining if they are 100% capable of doing the job.
4. Establish Good Communication with Your Freelancer
Find a method of communication that works for both of you, and negotiate a convenient time to have online meetings. Most outsourcing communication works efficiently through services like Skype or Basecamp for online collaboration. You can tell early if your freelancer is taking the work seriously. If your freelancer is difficult to reach, or repeatedly fails to report for a scheduled meeting, then you know you have made a bad choice, and should quickly terminate the relationship.
Good communication is also important for getting the best results. Do not hesitate to tell your freelancer what is working for you and what is not. This is also a good way to get feedback and suggestions from the expert, who your freelancer presumably is, that can help improve your business.
5. Prepare a Statement of Work
Even if you have established the details of the project during the hiring process, you still should put it in writing before your chosen candidate actually starts to work. It should include project specifications, timelines, milestones and payment terms. It formally establishes the parameters of work, and eliminates any gray areas in your working relationship.
Time is a valuable resource, and you should not waste your time doing things that have nothing to do with your core business. Trying to do everything yourself will, at best, yield poor results, and at worst, keep your business from developing. However, you still need to take the time to ensure that you are sourcing out the work to someone who can actually do the work.