In this article we will be discussing business outsourcing services, their respective benefits, and some of the options available that I have used. Over the years business outsourcing has evolved to mean much more than it ever has, and now applies to more than just call centers in India or manufacturing in China. Business outsourcing also includes contracted labor on Elance, virtual assistants in the Philippines, and 3rd party solutions providers (among other examples).
When asked, successful entrepreneurs often say one of the things they would’ve done differently would be to outsource and/or hire sooner. The reason for this is that the entrepreneurs time (your time!) is best spent on growing the business, not operating it. You should focus on front end strategy development and execution, new product development, marketing, growth plans, and other activities that grow your business.
When it comes to outsourcing or hiring help, many business owners are reluctant to let go. This is normal, but needs to be overcome. It’s critical to the success of your business that you are not tied up with the day to day mundane tasks that are needed to operate a business. So identify some tasks that you can offload, and then find some help to get them done so you can grow your business faster! Here are some places that I’ve had good luck in finding talented help to free up my time.
Elance – www.elance.com is a great place to post jobs ranging from accounting tasks to graphic design to engineers and beyond. I’ve have good luck working with graphic designers and architectural engineers on the site, as well as marketing consultants, copywriters, and industrial designers. The key is to be very clear on your job requirements upfront and be sure to check your potential contractor’s references and portfolio. You will get lower bids from contractors located outside the US, but language and cultural barriers can impact the quality of the end product so choose carefully.
Which contractor to choose really depends on the job requirements, timeline, budget, and other factors. I’ve used both domestic and international contractors and have had better overall luck with those who are located in the US, but I have also received a lot of great work from contractors located in India, Pakistan, Russia, and elsewhere for a fraction of the cost a US based contractor would charge.
There are other options available other than Elance, such as Odesk.com, but I do not have any experience with them so I can’t provide too much feedback at this time. However, I would expect the experience to be similar, just with a different user interface and job management platform.
MyTasker – www.mytasker.com (and other similar sites such as redbutler.com) offer virtual assistant services for hire. The programs vary but for the most part you can either hire on an hourly basis or on a full time basis. Obviously, the more time you purchase the better hourly rate you will receive. Some as US based while others are based in India or elsewhere around the world.
I hired my first virtual assistant from www.mytasker.com and the results have been great so far. They have helped me out with PPT presentations, light copywriting (although I did have to wordsmith it to proper English – something to keep in mind when hiring outside the US), calendar management, and online catalog listings. They are reasonably priced and easy to work with. Depending on your needs you can purchase as little as 10 hours per month, or up to 200 hours per month (at least at the time of publishing this).
Other options also exist for virtual assistants, both part time and full time. One service I’ve been investigating is www.virtualstafffinder.com where you can hire a full or part time VA from the Philippines. From what I have learned, the Philippines is becoming quite the hot spot for VA’s since English is the native language and they have a very strong work ethic. However, since I have not personally used this service I can’t necessarily recommend it, but if I end up moving forward with it I will revise this article to include some additional information.
Outsourcing also doesn’t have to require a formal hiring or even a formal contract. You can outsource aspects of your business, such as shipping and/or fulfillment to companies that specialize in it. For example, if you sell on Amazon you could outsource your shipping activities to their fulfillment center. It’s also a good idea to outsource your accounting and legal needs. A lot of companies choose to outsource marketing activities as well (strategy development and execution). I personally outsource all creative development (graphic design, brochures, ad layout, etc.) to a contractor I found on Elance.
So there you go – some great options to save time so you can use it to invest in the growth of your business. Remember that you can’t do it alone, and a value added service, contractor, part time help, or full time employee could be just what your business needs to take it to the next level. As always, I hope that this article helps move your business forward and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor!