The more I focus on what ONLY I can do, the faster my business grows. Or as the "Quit Your Boring Life" guide to outsourcing says:
"To put it simply, you want to outsource as much work as you can possibly afford to generate more income and scale faster. Think of outsourcing as an investment, not an expense."
At this point, I've hired people from all over the world to do different tasks for me... Literally all over the world.
I've hired people from the Philippines, to Bangladesh, Romania to the Czech Republic, India to Africa, the Dominican Republic to all corners of the US.
Jobs I've outsourced include: app development, layout design, graphics design, editing, Public Relations, writing, web development, plugin creation, server administration, transcription, audio editing, data entry, web research and more.
My goal with this post is to leverage my past experience to help you become more successful, faster with your online business endeavors.
#1 - Give More Tasks To A Capable Teammate Instead of Bringing On More People
There is something fun about posting a job, going through responses, interviewing people and delegating tasks to be done while I focus on higher level tasks. So fun, that I sometimes start a new job when I have a teammate already who could easily handle those tasks.
Now when your outsources aren't actively working on your tasks they are most likely looking for more work to keep themselves busy and to earn their living. This is a quick recipe to possibly lose a great teammate.
Quick example... The new transcriptionist that I just brought on from the Philippines is amazing. His English is impeccable and honestly his grammar and punctuation is better than mine. Awesome! Definite keeper.
Well, I also needed help editing and mixing down audio files to make CD ready tracks... Instead of going and posting a new job, I sent him a quick email saying "Hey, do you have any audio editing or video editing skills?" and he replied that he did.
Bingo! I sent him over the files for a test job, it came back great and now he manages all of my audio editing and transcription... And I keep him busy enough that he isn't out looking for more work. My tasks stay in the top priority spot!
#2 - Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly!
Kind of harsh, I know... But the talent pool is HUGE right now and if someone is challenging to communicate with, isn't giving you exactly what you want or isn't making the improvements you keep suggesting, let them go!
There are many other people who would love the hours and income and who will give you exactly what you want. Keep searching until you find that person and then, remember trick #1!
Keep them busy!!!
On the hiring slowly portion, I always ask a couple questions in the bottom of my job description that they are required to answer in order to be considered for the job. If the outsourcer copies/pastes in a generic response, I'll know it immediately and they get removed.
This takes a bit more time, but do you want someone rushing through things to get as many gigs as possible or someone who has an attention to detail, follows instructions and does exactly what you ask?
I generally hold Skype conversations to clarify about the job and to ask them questions about how long they think it will take and to see if they have any questions. Often times I'm just 'vibe'n them out' to see how their communication is, if they seem friendly and knowledgeable or not.
Read their past reviews from other employers and look for how many long term jobs they have had or currently have. If someone has 100 hours with 4 stars, but none of those jobs ever made it past 2 or 3 hours/ $40 or $50 mark each, odds are they didn't do a great job and the employer still left them good feedback.
On the other hand, if you find a contractor who has 10 ongoing jobs totaling thousands upon thousands of dollars, that is a huge sign that this person is very valuable, and the kind of person you want on your team.
When possible, I will hire multiple people for a job and give them each a small task to see how well they complete the job.
For example with the most recent editor position I hired for... 3 people received one 2000 word document each to edit. I then compared how quickly they got the job done, the work quality, the time it took them and how easy it was to work with them.
All of these steps will give your gut instincts a bit of time to offer you feedback. Follow your gut!
#3 - Let Yourself Be Surprised By How Much Teammates Can Do For You!
This has two sides... First side is realize that in our global economy, sometimes people in other parts of the world can do amazing jobs and when the cost of living + exchange rate get factored in, you can get a GREAT deal!
A recent example here would be the transcriptionist I hired from the Philippines. I was a bit skeptical... I mean, these are English audio files and his native language is Tagalog.
My previous transcriber was almost twice his hourly rate and she was in the USA... But looking at his feedback, reading his example work and tuning into my gut, I figured I would send him a test job.
WOW! He totally impressed me and has since transcribed dozens of documents flawlessly. His work product is far superior to the last person I was using and his cost is nearly 50%... I allowed myself to be surprised here, took my time reviewing him and I was ready to cut the cord quick if needed, but all in all it has paid off big-time.
The other side of this is in the amount of direction and hand-holding you do with your teammates. I'm notorious for spending hours creating screenshots, writing out task descriptions, etc.
This absolutely helps me make sure I get what I need, but recently I've been testing my ability to spend less time compiling components and writing up task descriptions and letting them do the research needed, find the graphic components, etc. all based on my goal and description of the project.
This is common for research tasks... I used to perform the research myself, recording a few screenshots in the process and starting the spreadsheet that they'd fill out for me, etc. This obviously worked, but since I am paying the Virtual Assistant to work for me, it really isn't necessary.
Now, I let them know I'm looking for a list of 'XYZ stores in New Zealand' and require the web address, phone number and contact email address for every one she can find... Surprise surprise, with maybe one or two questions that take 5 minutes to answer, she is able to deliver me exactly what I wanted.
Great teammates are always looking to impress with how effective they can be and how much they can accomplish. Great teammates want to be an integral part of your team... So giving them that chance is really the only way that can happen!
If you are outsourcing tasks to teammates around the world and have any brilliant insights that you feel like I missed here, please leave a comment below. This isn't the 'be all end all' list, by any means and I invite you to help make it better!