Making mistakes is part of the learning process.
Fortunately for you, we’ve already made a few, so we’re happy to share what we’ve learned to save you the hassle. As featured in Matt Keener’s podcast with StartUpFASHION, I hope these tips are useful as you get started with outsourcing.
1. Don’t Go Cheap
When outsourcing for the first time, people often get too excited and start hiring people with the lowest hourly rates. While it is interesting that you can hire someone from a foreign country for one or two dollars an hour, in most cases you get what you pay for.
It’s important to note that while you may be able to hire freelancers from offshore countries at a lower hourly rate, going to the absolute lowest bottom barrel dollar per hour is not a good strategy for finding people that are going to meet your needs.
2. Start a Screening Process
Another common mistake made by people who are outsourcing for the first time is the assumption that anyone with a profile online is worth hiring. You really need to do your due diligence here. Even though you may not be hiring an individual for a full time contract, it’s very, very important that you go through a filtering process, do some pre-screening, look at their portfolio and profile on oDesk or Elance, and check out the feedback that they’ve received from other clients.
Before talking to the candidate or inviting them to interview, it’s a good idea to visualize whether or not the candidate could possibly fit with your company’s culture. Who have they worked for in the past? What does their portfolio tell you about the freelancer? Does the candidate have positive feedback? Don’t invite anybody and everybody. Be selective.
4. Identify Your Needs
If you’ve decided that outsourcing is right for you, make sure that you have clearly identified your needs. You really want to take the time to understand all of the things that you’re doing today that you could theoretically outsource and then build a system for those processes.
In some cases, clients will find themselves spending hours and hours trying to find someone to outsource a project too when they could have completed the same project in thirty minutes. We’ve created a worksheet that provides an overview of all of the things that people tend to outsource online through oDesk or Elance. The worksheet is designed to guide you through the process of determining which tasks you may want to outsource.
5. Keep It Simple
You don’t want to go and outsource a core competency of your business right off the bat. First of all, you may be revealing confidential information about your business to contractors who could take that information and then vanish with it. But more importantly, people often make the mistake of going straight to the biggest problem they have, outsourcing it, and then feeling like the contractor did a terrible job.
It’s typically unwise to start out by outsourcing things that are very complex. Instead, identify things that you do that are easy to delegate to people, and then it will be very clear for you to determine if the freelancer did a good job. Get them in a routine of doing those things on a regular basis. Start simple and then add responsibility as you go, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to build better relationships in a virtual setting.