With remote working set to become a permanent feature of business operations in 2021, there has never been a better time to outsource specific tasks and responsibilities. With the widespread use of video conferencing software and other remote working tools proving successful, if a team can work productively from home, it’s likely that ‘home’ could be anywhere in the world.
For small business owners and ‘solopreneurs’, it can be tempting to take on as many duties as possible. Many entrepreneurs act as the company boss, operations manager, receptionist and accountant. Whilst many enjoy staying busy and a varied working day, this can often lead to high-stress levels and a very skewed work/life balance.
If you run a business that is projected to grow in 2021 then outsourcing may be a great way to mitigate financial risk. With outsourcing or freelancing, you can pay per project, you don’t have to work through tedious administrative work and it can be much easier to find a freelancer online than to interview candidates in your immediate local area. Freelancers also don’t require office space – which can be a huge overhead.
A tip when working with remote workers is to make training videos and documentation. This way, you won’t have to go through specific in-house tasks and operations with each freelancer that you hire.
What to Outsource?
The starting point for outsourcing is to consider what tasks and/or projects should be outsourced. A good starting point can be to keep a diary or journal record of all the tasks that you do in a given week, and how many hours you spend on each task. A time monitoring tool such as Harvest can help with this.
Once you have a record of all the tasks, write down the skill level required next to each of them. For example, replying to and filtering emails might be a “low” skill level, whilst designing and implementing Facebook Ads and Facebook Ad campaigns might be “high”.
If you have any tasks that take up more than a few hours per week and require a relatively low skill level, then chances are that these can be outsourced to a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants based in Asia have a reputation for working incredibly hard and can be hired for under $5 per hour in some instances. Before you use an overseas assistant, however, it can be worth reading up and/or watching a few relevant videos, as it can be difficult to communicate and manage overseas assistants in some instances. Once you find one that you can work well with, however, the benefits can be huge. Virtual assistants will often help with emails, scheduling, making appointments, chasing/following up on emails & calls, creating to-do lists. Assistants may also help with, and even manage freelancers.
Another typical job or task to outsource is the duties of a receptionist. With a virtual receptionist or a phone answering service app, you can filter out unwanted calls – which in turn can help you to focus on the work at hand, get into ‘the zone’ (scientifically call “flow state”) and get more done in less time.
Also, with a 24/7 virtual receptionist service, you can literally switch off at the end of the working day, with the peace of mind knowing that all your calls are being taken care of.
According to some reports, freelancers contribute $1.4 trillion to the US economy each year and others project that 50% of the workforce will either be independent consultants or freelancers by 2027. In 2021 freelancing is likely to increase greatly; so the talent pool is likely to grow, making hiring a freelancer an even more attractive proposition.
However, before you jump onto a freelancing website and outsource half of your company, please be aware that even with freelancing, sometimes good help is hard to find!
Before hiring any freelancers, consider some of the potential disadvantages. Remote freelancers can be tough to monitor and it can be difficult to ascertain how good a freelancer is before you hire him or her. With local hires, you will likely know somebody who can recommend a candidate, whereas with a freelancer, they may come with many good reviews but you often don’t know the people who published the reviews.
Not all freelancers will be as responsive as you want them to be and there can be issues with different timezones. There are some excellent freelancers out there, but you may have to put in a little bit of work to find them.
One of the best ways to find a reliable freelancer is to get a referral from a trusted friend or business partner. If you don’t have anyone who can refer a freelancer, then consider using UpWork and/or 99designs for graphic design.
It can also be a good idea to interview a potential freelancer via Skype or Zoom, to get a sense of their personality and if he or she will be a good fit in your organisation. Relationships matter a lot and you need to make sure you can communicate effectively with someone. You can also look at how someone presents themselves, what is their ‘personal brand’ like and how does it align with your business’s brand?
There are some huge benefits that come with using freelancers. If you live in the US or Europe you can take advantage of geoarbitrage by hiring someone overseas. A highly skilled and experienced developer or graphic designer is likely to cost half the hourly rate of a locally based freelancer and probably 10% of the price of hiring a local agency – no exaggeration! Some UK agencies charge well over £100 per hour for work related to digital marketing.
In addition, if you have a last-minute job or emergency, many freelancers will be happy to do additional work at short notice, even if its during weekends. As an employer, you won’t have to worry about paying for healthcare and employment tax (in some countries at least!) and you can ‘flex’ your teams up and down according to how much work you have at a given time.
Typical projects and tasks that are outsourced to freelancers typically include:
– Graphic design
– Google Ads management
– Social Media management
– Search Engine Optimization
Freelancing Has Many Advantages
There are also several advantages to becoming a freelancer yourself. Freelancers tend to spread the risk of anyone company failing. Working with a diverse number of clients can mitigate the risk of anyone industry collapsing and leaving you out of work. Freelancing can also force you to stay up to date with all the current trends and to establish a strong network of professionals.
You could even be a freelancer, that has a team of freelancers…think about that one for a second!