7 Outsourcing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
One of the hardest parts of our business, as Life Coaches, Consultants, and any solo-preneur - well... it is that we are 'solo' - we are alone and we wear 99 hats, trying to do everything on our own:
- Web Design
- Graphic Design
- AutoResponder set-up / eMail Marketing
- Social Media (ouch - what a time-drain!)
- Video Marketing
- Marketing planning and implementation
- Learning new automation software
- Talking to prospective clients
- and... we somehow need time to service existing clients too
And the above list is only a brief list of all the tasks and activities many of us are involved in. After a while, many of us experience major overwhelm and many give up even before they had a chance to experience serving clients.
But there's a solution:
Outsource Your Non-Client-Serving Related Tasks
Outsourcing is a great way to get expert help when you need it and without paying full-time rates - a great way to free up your time to serve your clients and not mess around with endless $10-per-hour tasks. Let others do those tasks, so you can focus on your $200+/hour tasks... finding and serving clients!
Once I got introduced to outsourcing, I got hooked; though, it took me some time to 1) let go of trying to do everything on my own; and 2) it took me some time to find the right Virtual Assistant/s and Tech-Support peeps.
Whether you work with interns/apprentices or hire a part time or full time Virtual Assistant, it is key to be prepared and be ready once you hire your first helper.
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7 Outsourcing Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some common outsourcing mistakes that you'll definitely want to avoid.
1. Focusing on Cost Only – While cost is an important factor in hiring anyone to help you, it should not be the only consideration. If you want expert help, you’ll be paying for expert help at expert prices. It’s important to realize that when you hire a Virtual Assistant or a contractor, you’re not hiring full-time help. So the initial hourly cost might seem high, but it will still be less than hiring that same expert full time.
Think of it this way:
A) How much would you charge hourly to serve a client?
If you are a life coach, you'd charge around $125 to $300+ per hour
B) How long would it take you to complete a task, and how much will it cost based on your hourly rate (see point A. above)
C) How much would it cost you to outsource? If it's $10 to $25 - or even $55 per hour, isn't it still a better deal to outsource that task?
The key is to Reclaim Your Time and focus on conversations with potential clients and serving existing clients. Delegate/Outsource everything else!
And, while, yes some of these providers can be expensive, how does FREE help sound? Well... almost free...
A few years ago, I found a Super Affordable Solution - Students and people who went through marketing training, who want to practice their skills will do your tech-stuff at No Cost - Can't beat that! 🙂 There's a small fee to sign up for the service... still a 90%+ saving, compared to hiring a Virtual Assistant. Check out the details Here!
2. Expecting a One-Stop-Shop – Very few Virtual Assistants are capable to do everything for you expertly. Most contractors focus on one niche - though can expertly provide various tasks within that niche. For example, some virtual assistants are great at Web Design - but this can include autoresponder set up, sales-funnel design, etc. Make sure to find out what your VAs strenghts are, and ideally see some samples of their work.
Start with one contractor, then keep adding to your "team." As time goes by, slowly slowly put together a team of contractors that can expertly help you with all your needs.
3. Not Knowing What You Want & Not Getting Prepared First – If you have no idea what you want a contractor to do, then you won’t be able to write a request for proposal that will get a good answer. Know exactly what you need before you start looking for anyone to help.
4. Outsourcing the Wrong Things – When you start outsourcing, you should not try to outsource the main tasks that are responsible for your business success, such as talking to prospective clients and serving your clients.
Also ask yourself, what's the worst that can happen? If you outsource to someone to handle your purchases, and give them your credit card info, the worst thing that can happen is they spend all your money on them-self, then disappear. So, don't do it!
Don't outsource tasks that can potentially backfire!
5. Not Communicating Clearly – A key to successful outsourcing is communication.
I found that thorough communication is key. And I mean THOROUGH COMMUNICATION - It's better to communicate too much details than not enough! A few months after I started working with my first Virtual Assistant, I started creating detailed mock-ups and step-by-step instructions/description of what I exactly wanted. Then a few years ago I also started using video to do screenshots and explain in details what I want. It makes all the difference in the world, eliminating lots of misunderstandings.
Set up a project management system like Basecamp.com and/or Dropbox.com to communicate with the people you outsource to. I use BaseCamp with my team; and use www.ToDoIst.com to communicate with individual contractors (ToDoIst has a fully functional free version).
6. Hiring only locally – Yes, it's great to keep jobs within our "communities," but when you run a new business it makes a great difference whether you pay $95 per hour for services, or pay $10 per hour. Use services such as www.Fiverr.com or www.Guru.com to find professionals all over the world who'll provide you services at affordable fees (though, do check out #7 below before you jump into Fiverr, Guru, or any other outsourcing services out there - that could be a way better, long-term solution for you)
7. Not Evaluating Outsourcers Well Enough – When you start working with anyone new, start with a small project with a clear beginning and end. That way you can determine the quality of their work, whether they finish tasks in time, etc.
Start with easier tasks and keep giving them harder and harder; OR start with a really hard task (but not time-consuming), to test their expertise, and request a clear deadline.
One way to evaluate your Virtual Assistant before you hire them, is let them complete a few test-tasks; OR, even better, let them apprentice for you...!
There are 1000s of marketing students, graphic designers, copywriters - you name it - who just finished their training (or are still in training) and want to practice their skills on a real business, and they'd gladly "apprentice" with you. Many will do it just to get the experience; and some do hope that you'll hire them after the apprenticeship is over.
There are services out there that'll connect you with eager marketers who are looking for experience, and they'll help you with your tasks for 30 to 90-days, just so they can get some hands-on experience. Check out such a service here!
Outsourcing can be a great boost for your business and a true sanity-savior! Keep in mind the above tips and you'll be well on your way to build your business at a faster rate than you've imagined. When you learn to outsource effectively, you'll actually enjoy what you do, and eliminate that feeling of overwhelm and "busy-work" that often leads nowhere...
E.G. Sebastian, is a Business-Development Coach, Corporate Trainer, and founder of Corporate Speaker Academy where he helps coaches, consultants, and authors break into the world of delivering Workshops, Group Coaching programs, or Keynotes to corporate teams. Learn more about Sebastian at www.egSebstian.com and connect with him on LinkedIn.