23 Tips to Consider When Outsourcing Operations

Outsourcing Operations

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Though the concept of outsourcing has been around for years, it has recently become an even more viable and popular avenue for small businesses.

Outsourcing certain operations can save you time and help you keep costs down as your business grows.

Entrepreneur and author Chris Ducker is no stranger to the benefits of outsourcing. He shares some of his best tips and tricks for outsourcing operations in the list below.

Figure Out Which Areas You Want Outsourced

Today, businesses can outsource just about anything. So you need to carefully consider which areas of your business could benefit from outside help. If there’s something that doesn’t fit with your particular expertise, you could consider outsourcing it at some point. Ducker mentioned web development, graphic design, content creation, video, and general admin work as common outsourcing opportunities, especially for virtual entrepreneurs. Outsourcing social media activities is another common outsourcing opportunity as well.

Use Outsourcing as a Way to Save Time

Some people think of outsourcing operations mainly as a way to save or cut costs. But as Ducker pointed out, time is one of the most precious assets for business owners. So when considering what to outsource, think about the things that take up a lot of your time that could be better spent on other things.

But Maintain Control of the Important Things

However, you shouldn’t outsource everything. For example, Ducker said that he has a content creator come up with some ideas and outlines for posts. But he often writes the finished content.

Hire for the Role, Not the Task

This is one of Ducker’s main pieces of advice. If you want outsourcing to really benefit your business, you need to find contractors who will adequately fill a role that you need filled. Make sure their expertise fits with your overall needs instead of just looking for someone who can accomplish one particular task.

Uphold Your Regular Hiring Standards

Just because you’re looking for a contractor instead of a traditional employee doesn’t mean your standards should change. Contractors can still have a big impact on your business. So use the same care in finding contractors as you would when hiring employees.

Hire the Right People Regardless of Location

One of the biggest benefits of hiring freelancers, contractors or virtual help is that you usually don’t need to narrow your search by location. You can hire the best person or company for the job without limiting your search.

Ducker said in an exclusive interview with Small Business Trends, “Outsourcing has enabled me to grow with the right people in the right roles. Savvy new age entrepreneurs are no longer confined to certain geographic areas when looking to hire the best people.”

Find the Right Platform for Your Needs

Once you’ve decided where you need outsourcing assistance, you’ll need to decide on a platform to use for your search, if you don’t already have a contractor in mind. Popular sites like Elance and Upwork can help you find contractors in a variety of areas. But there are also some more niche sites like Ducker’s Virtual Staff Finder site.

Save Yourself Time in the Hiring Process

When outsourcing operations, aside from just finding a site that will allow you to find relevant candidates, you should consider how time consuming the process will be with each one. If you’re outsourcing to save time, you don’t want to waste too much of it sifting through thousands of applications that aren’t really relevant.

Be Prepared for a Lot of Applicants

If you do use popular sites like Elance, you should be prepared to receive a lot of applications. That’s good for your chances of finding someone who’s right for the job – you just need to make sure you have some time set aside or a staff member dedicated to going through them.

Consider Skill Set and Experience

A contractor’s skills and level of experience are the first things you should evaluate during the hiring process. You obviously want to find someone whose skills fit with the role you’re trying to fill when outsourcing operations. But you also want to find someone with enough relevant experience so that you can be confident in their abilities.

Tailor Your Qualifications to the Particular Job

For some roles, skills matter more than experience and vice versa. For instance, Ducker said he usually looks for contractors with at least three to five years of experience. But when it comes to web developers, there are some young people with not quite as much experience but plenty of skills to get the job done.

Look Into Their Mindset

Mindset is the next factor that Ducker usually considers. Someone might have the right skills or level of experience but if they don’t seem to care about their work then they’re probably not right for the role.

Find Out How They Better Themselves

When outsourcing operations, to gauge people’s mindset, Ducker usually asks candidates, “What have you done in the last six months to better yourself?” If they’ve read books or taken online courses, that tells him that they are driven and dedicated rather than complacent.

Consider Their Personality

The last factor that Ducker usually considers is personality. Hiring a contractor is a lot like hiring an employee. Even if they don’t work out of your physical office, you still need to make sure that you’ll enjoy working with them.

Look Out for Warning Signs

One thing that Ducker looks out for when evaluating candidates is their priorities. If someone starts asking about things like pay and time off early in the process, that could be a red flag. Those things are important, of course. But if a candidate brings them up before even discussing their role, they might not be very dedicated.

Make Them Show Attention to Detail

When outsourcing operations, one way to save time while also making sure you find the right candidate is to include very specific instructions in your original listing. Ducker suggests choosing an obscure word or phrase and asking applicants to include it in the email subject or somewhere in their cover letter. Those who don’t can be eliminated from consideration immediately.

Delegate the Early Hiring Steps

Another way to save yourself time on the process is to delegate the early hiring steps. If you have someone dedicated to going through applications and doing first interviews, they can likely do it more efficiently than you can anyway.

But Evaluate the Top Candidates Yourself

But just as you shouldn’t outsource all aspects of your operations, neither should you delegate all aspects of the hiring process. Ducker suggests having someone go through applications and taking care of the first round or two of interviews, then interviewing the final few candidates yourself to make sure they live up to your standards.

Consider the Cost

Cost is also another important consideration in any outsourcing decision. You don’t necessarily want to go with the cheapest option. But make sure it’s something you can reasonably afford while still receiving value.

Spend Time Onboarding

Once you’ve decided on a contractor, the work is far from over. You still need to make sure they understand your processes and what you expect of them. So set aside some time for onboarding much like you would a traditional employee.

Don’t Expect One Person To Do Everything

One of the most common mistakes people make when outsourcing operations, according to Ducker, is expecting too much from one contractor. If you hire a graphic designer, you shouldn’t assume that they can also handle your web development. If you hire a general VA, you shouldn’t expect them to handle absolutely everything.

Don’t Overlook Training

And even if you do hire someone whose skills and experience fit with your specific needs, you still need to train them for their role at your company.

Ducker says, “Just because someone has the right skill set, the right amount of experience in the right role, the right mindset and the right personality as a potential team member doesn’t mean they know how you want or like things done.”

Take Care of Contractors as You Would Employees

It’s also important to treat contractors well so they stick around and do a great job. Fair compensation, clear instructions and feedback, and other perks you offer to regular employees can go a long way toward making contractors feel like part of the team. And since their work directly impacts your business, this should be a big part of your outsourcing strategy.

Outsourcing Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions
  1. That’s right. It is important to also have knowledge of the task that you will outsource. This way, you will know how much time it takes to do it.

  2. There is also the option to outsource en masse to an outsourcing provider, who would be having the required staff to handle various tasks your business is involved in, rather than hiring a contractor for each of the tasks you want outsourced. That makes the selection process easier, and it could also be more cost-effective in the long run.