How to Outsource Practically Anything

September 2015

 

From accountant to HR manager, playing several roles is just part of your job. But with only so many hours in a day, it can be tough to decide when doing it all is actually holding your business back.

Rather than increasing headcount (with the extra costs and administrative work involved), a far simpler and more cost-effective option may be to outsource.

Thanks to changing technology and the rise of the “sharing economy,” finding someone else to take care of your company’s day-to-day tasks—from mundane office cleaning to high-level financial planning—is easier and cheaper than ever. 

In Need of Assistants

If you need a little bit of help with a lot of different tasks, a virtual assistant could be a good place to start for outsourcing. Virtual assistants can take on a wide range of tasks a small business might need to manage: bookkeeping, social media management, lead generation and even CRM software management. The services of these assistants can be secured on a per-project basis or for a fixed number of hours, ensuring you know exactly how much you will be spending.

Services like Upwork (formerly Elance and oDesk) or Virtual Staff Finder let you outsource any task that can be done on a computer, from writing a blog post to developing a company app.

Equivity allows you to secure virtual administrative assistants on a steadier basis. By purchasing different packages you always have someone on hand to handle restaurant reservations, send appointment reminders or even write thank-you notes and emails.

You should start a new assistant with a small assignment before moving him or her to larger projects. You will want to test out any new assistant, even a very short-term one, before trusting them with more substantial work.

“As with any administrative assistant, there will be a learning curve as the assistant learns business processes and the business owner’s preferences,” emphasizes Eric Wall, co-founder and CEO of Equivity. “Failure to invest time in training your virtual assistant will detract from the value the business owner can obtain from the experience.”

Also be sure you stay in touch regularly with your assistants, whether via daily check-in calls or emails to summarize what work has been done, or downloads as each stage of a project is completed.

For an expansive list of outsourcing services and options, you can visit the International Virtual Assistants Association.

Outsourcing for In-House Tasks

Some tasks require in-person assistance. For these, services like TaskRabbit.com can be effective resources for both one-off projects and long-term assistance. You can post the job that needs to be done, which Task Rabbit’s pool of vetted freelance “Taskers” then bid on. Taking into account their price and reviews received for previous work, you can select the Tasker who looks like the best fit. Of course, traditional temp agencies like Taylor Hodson, Inc. or GoodTemps can also work well for these situations, particularly for jobs that involve clerical or administrative assistant work.

Help with Highly Skilled Tasks

Rather than hiring a full-time SEO manager or web designer, you can outsource digital marketing tasks through a specialized service such as August 99.

Many businesses also use outsourced finance departments. IQ BackOffice is just one of many providers of virtual financial services that take care of billing, bank reconciliations and nearly any other accounting function.

When opting to outsource, doing some pre-work will ensure you get the most out of assistants. Work with your outsourcing vendor to develop systems that can turn the tasks you don’t have time for into repeatable processes that make it simple for new outsourced help to step in and take over. 

 

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