Everything You Need to Know About Outsourcing

Looking at outsourcing some of your tasks, but not sure where to begin? Grab a cuppa and get comfy because today we are going to delve into everything outsourcing!

First Up, What Exactly Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is where you get an external party to complete work or tasks that would normally be done inhouse, or things that you would normally do yourself in the course of running your business. Outsourcing has become a popular option with small business owners, and particularly with solopreneurs or solo operators who often do everything themselves. Since Covid and the rise of online and remote working, even mid – larger sized businesses are embracing outsourcing components of their work more regularly now. I’ll be focusing mostly on solopreneurs throughout this blog, but the same principles apply no matter the size of your business. 

Benefits of outsourcing

Business owners choose to outsource their tasks for many different reasons. Here are a few of the benefits of outsourcing;

  • Frees you up to focus on your core business activities, which can ultimately help you bring in more money
  • Boosts your productivity and efficiency
  • Can help with reducing your stress levels
  • Improves your work/ life balance
  • Flexibility – you can outsource as much or as little as you like and you can choose who you outsource to
  • Can be more cost effective than putting on an employee
  • You can engage people to work in their areas of expertise, which allows you to focus on what you are good at
  • Can help you to grow your business or tackle your longer term goals
  • Gives you and your business support without the hassle of putting on an employee
  • 2 heads are better than 1; outsourcing might be a great way of brainstorming or getting a different perspective on how things can be done better
  • You can hand over all those tasks that you are either not very good at, or don’t enjoy doing

What Tasks can you outsource?

These days you can outsource pretty much anything you can think of! I see people asking this question all the time in various social media groups etc… When people start looking into outsourcing, they are usually feeling overwhelmed; they know they need some help but often have no idea where to start or what that help looks like. I always recommend that people start by putting together a list of potential tasks that they want to outsource. Having clarity around what tasks you want to outsource will help you find the right people/ person to outsource to.

Some people already know exactly which tasks they want to outsource, but others need some more assistance with figuring this out. I’ve put together a great FREE resource to help people with this exact dilemma. Rather than just giving you a generic list of tasks to outsource, my Outsourcing 101 guide is a 12 page digital workbook that takes you through my simple 4 step process to help you figure out exactly which tasks to outsource specifically for YOUR business. It includes helpful information, examples of tasks and practical steps you can take to help you identify which tasks to outsource. So, if you need some help working out what tasks to outsource in your business, go and check it out (link below the image). 

Please note you will be required to sign up to my email list to access this free guide. As a special bonus I will also share some next steps for you to take on your outsourcing journey, and I’ll share my top tips to help you outsource like an expert!  

Who should I outsource to?

Ultimately this will largely be determined by what tasks you need to outsource. That’s why I always encourage people to start their outsourcing journey by identifying at least a couple of tasks to outsource. The list is likely to grow and change over time, but you at least need a starting point. 

You need to find someone who not only has the skills to complete the tasks you want done, but also someone you can work well with and who is a good overall “fit” for your business, particularly if you are looking for ongoing support rather than just a one off project. For long term success with outsourcing, I personally believe finding someone who is the right “fit” is more important than having someone who has ALL the skills. Don’t get me wrong they still absolutely need to be capable of doing the tasks you need done though! My point is that skills can be learnt and developed along the way if need be; however it’s much harder to change someone’s personality! For a one off project this might not be so relevant, but if you want ongoing support in your business, you don’t want to be clashing with the person you outsource to. To build a successful long term outsourcing relationship, it’s important that you can both get along and work together well. This person is likely to become an integral part of your business, so take some time to find the right person for your needs.  

And if they are lacking skills in some areas that you need, you could always look at assigning different tasks to different people. Outsourcing to multiple people can be a great way to tap into people’s various strengths and areas of expertise to give you the best results. Here are some other things to consider beyond just their skills or “qualifications” when looking at who to outsource to; 

  • Their location/ time zone (this may or may not be relevant depending on your needs)
  • Your budget and roughly how many hours of work you are looking to outsource
  • Do you want to work with an agency or individual? Both have their own pros and cons so do some research around this
  • Their billing structure (e.g. monthly retainer, hourly based etc… Do they require a deposit, or payment upfront?)
  • Are you willing to provide any training if required (e.g. for company specific platforms etc…)
  • Are they able to pick things up quickly if you do need them to learn new things
  • What is their availability and does it fit in with your needs

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to outsourcing. It’s a matter of looking at your various options and finding the right person/s to meet your needs. This may take some trial and error along the way, but once you have found the right person for YOU, you won’t look back!  

What’s in a Name?

When people think about outsourcing, these days a virtual assistant (VA) often comes to mind. And if you do a search for “virtual assistant” in Google or on your social media platforms, you will most likely come up with loads of results, which will be a good place for you to start looking for someone to outsource to. But, the term “virtual assistant” isn’t actually a defined role or specific job, it’s more of an industry segment I guess you could say.

Not all VAs are equal. What one offers, another may not. All virtual assistants have their own skills, strengths and knowledge that they bring to the table. Some are more generalists who do a bit of everything, and some specialise only in one particular area. And some virtual assistants don’t even use the term “virtual assistant” to describe themselves. Other more traditional establishments may also offer outsourcing options these days. Consider these alternative search terms if “virtual assistant” isn’t coming up with the results you want, or if you are looking for someone to do a very specific set of tasks;

  • Social media manager
  • Social media ads specialist
  • Marketing manager/ expert/ specialist/ strategist
  • Accountant/ book keeper
  • Online/ remote executive assistant (or personal assistant)
  • Graphic designer
  • Content creator
  • Website developer
  • SEO manager/ specialist
  • Online business manager
  • Project manager
  • Copywriter

Final Thoughts

Outsourcing can be a great way for you to relieve some of your stress and frustration, allowing you to work smarter, not harder. It’s a great way to restore a better work/ life balance and reduce the overwhelm often felt by solo operators. I recommend speaking to a few different people to find the best fit for YOUR needs. Finding the right person to outsource to will help ensure a more successful, long term arrangement with someone who works well with you and your business. Everyone’s outsourcing needs and outsourcing journey is different, so go with what works for you. When done right, outsourcing can have many benefits to your business (and even to your general wellbeing!). 

If you would like to chat with me about how I can potentially assist you and your business with your outsourcing needs, you can book a FREE 30 min consultation call with me by clicking here. And don’t forget to grab a copy of my Outsourcing 101 Guide to help you start your outsourcing journey on the right foot!