Outsourcing is a big decision for any company. The process of finding, hiring and training an independent contractor can seem daunting, but it can also be hugely rewarding.
Follow these 6 steps to make sure you get it right the first time.
1. Decide If Outsourcing is Right for You
The first, and perhaps the most important, step to successful outsourcing is deciding whether it’s an appropriate move for you and your business. If your business isn’t ready to outsource, doing so can result in an unhealthy arrangement. If you pass over too many tasks too early, you can lose control of your business.
The easiest way to decide is by comparing time and cost. Assess how much you will pay a qualified freelancer or agency to do the task and how long it will take them to complete it.
Then ask those same questions of yourself. For example, say you’re considering outsourcing some graphic design. You might spend ten hours fiddling with an Adobe program you don’t really understand for a product that’s just “okay.” Or, you could spend $100 and have an excellent product by the following week.
Timing will play a major role in this decision: If you’re under a time crunch, you might not have the luxury of outsourcing a certain task.
Furthermore, you need to consider the added time of imparting your vision to an independent contractor and managing deadlines. You’ll also need to budget time for the hiring process, to make sure you find the right person for the job.
Finances play another role, obviously. If you don’t have $100 available to outsource a task, you’ll need to do it yourself. But it might be worth considering a reshuffle of your finances to increase productivity.
2. Create the Perfect Job Description
If, after careful consideration, you feel outsourcing is a good fit for your company, the next step is to create a very detailed job description. The importance of this step can’t be understated. It will save you time and money down the road to set clear expectations from the very start of your relationship with an independent contractor.
If the job is for a recurring task that you are currently handling yourself, document your actions for a week or two. Write down everything you do relating to the task and take screenshots and videos of what is happening on your computer. From this outline, a job description will start to emerge.
If this is a one-time, product-oriented task, like the creation of a logo or marketing materials, start by creating priorities. What do you want to have in your hand when the job ends? When do you need it? What do you want it to look like or what purpose do you want it to serve?
Don’t worry about being brief in the job description — the more detail, the better.
3. Hire Proactively
Gone are the days when one could just put up a job posting and wait for the right person to show up at the office. You might get a lot of responses, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find the best person for the job unless you play an active role in the search.
One of the best places to start your search is within your own network. Have any of your friends used a graphic designer or copywriter they can recommend? These recommendations can be hugely helpful and save you some time of sifting through potentials.
If you decide to go the agency route, you’ll have an easier time finding a match because agencies market themselves.
However, I haven’t had the best experience with outsourcing to large companies and prefer the personal, one-on-one nature of working with an independent contractor. I recommend trying Upwork and LinkedIn Recruiter. Both sites will give you access to a freelancer’s portfolio, references and work history.
4. Do a Trial Run
Just because you’ve found a freelancer who looks good on paper (or a computer screen) doesn’t mean you should immediately hire them and hand over your entire project. If possible, hire them for a paid trial job.
Be open and honest about the fact that this is an extension of the interview process, to make sure you work well together. Keep the trial project small and manageable, but complex enough that you get an idea of the freelancer’s skills, reliability, punctuality and attitude.
5. Document the Process
Once you have found the perfect independent contractor, request that they carefully document their process. This is especially important for repetitive tasks that you might end up rehiring for later on.
Just as you documented your actions while creating the job description, have the freelancer record their actions. This will help you monitor their progress and also provide a blueprint for future hires.
6. Have Faith
Trust is key in every relationship, and your relationship with a freelancer is no different. Micromanaging a contractor completely defeats the purpose of outsourcing.
Take the time that you have saved by outsourcing a task and use it wisely — don’t constantly check in with your freelancer. If you take your time and complete the hiring process correctly the first time, you should find someone you trust and be able to hand over responsibilities to them without concern.
The first time you make the jump to outsourcing, it might take a while to both find a contractor and train them.
But outsourcing continues to get easier and easier as you develop an awareness of your company’s needs. It’s a powerful tool worth using to increase productivity, lessen stress, and reach your full potential.
Title image by Ryan McGuire
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