Are potential outsourcing issues holding you back from utilizing remote freelancers to grow your business? As with everything in business (and life in general), there is always a potential for making mistakes and going through learning experiences when it comes to hiring online freelancers to handle aspects of your business. However, as a small business owner looking to leverage your time, outsourcing can be the key to big growth and a significant increase in revenue.
Take advantage of the lessons learned from the experts to avoid outsourcing issues. Here are the top 5 strategies you can take when you begin to hire remote freelancers to help with your business.
Avoid Outsourcing Issues: Don’t be Cheap
You’ve probably heard this little piece of wisdom throughout your entire life, and it applies to most things – one of which is outsourcing. You get what you pay for! If you choose to be cheap and hire a worker based solely on how little they charge, you are likely to get lower quality work than you desire.
It is true that you can probably find someone to work for you for as little as a few dollars per hour. That probably sounds appealing to you, especially if you are just starting out and have a small budget. Unfortunately, that low rate is probably low because the worker is also just starting out or has another barrier in place. He or she might have little to no experience or expertise, have language barriers or a bad attitude.
When you immediately go for the cheapest worker, you may experience things such as:
- Poor communication – Sometimes the cheapest freelancers have low rates because they do not speak much English. This means that you will have a tough time explaining your expectations and tasks as well as providing feedback in the future. It could also mean poor communication with your paying customers if that is part of the work you are outsourcing.
- Connectivity issues – A low rate worker may come with slow or intermittent interconnection causing the ability to get work done on time to be affected.
- Low quality work – Wouldn’t it be worth an extra few dollars an hour to get high quality work? Low rates often mean low experience or low expertise.
Avoid outsourcing issues associated with being cheap! Try to look beyond a worker’s hourly rate to see who is the best for your company. You may end up spending a lot less and getting a much higher return on investment by hiring the right person.
Avoid Outsourcing Issues: Focus on the Interview
There are thousands and thousands of remote freelancers looking for work. You probably already know this if you’ve opened up Google and typed “virtual assistant” or “remote worker.” While it is true that there will be many qualified freelancers who would be a great fit for your business, it is also true that there will be many unqualified freelancers who at first appear to be qualified. You can easily avoid common outsourcing issues by focusing on the interview process to find the best freelancers.
When you get organized and strategic with your interviewing, you will likely avoid hiring someone who doesn’t fit your needs and deliver quality work. Here are a few quick tips to avoid common outsourcing issues by focusing on the interview.
1. Identify the Work you Need to Outsource – You must first identify what you’d like to outsource, and you must get specific. Make a list of all of the tasks that you perform on a weekly or monthly basis. Choose the tasks that take the most time, that you don’t enjoy, or that you don’t have the skillset for. These make great tasks to outsource.
2. Write a Task Description – You need a clear description of the role and expectations you desire in order to attract the best online freelancers. Many outsourcing issues occur because of a lack of clarity in the role being outsourced. Consider price range, time requirements, skills required, and preferred experience level. Use this description to interview potential candidates.
3. Weed Out the Applicants that Don’t Fit – If an online worker applies and doesn’t meet 100% of your requirements, go ahead and weed them out. Outsourcing issues start right away if a new worker isn’t exactly who you want or need. This is especially true if you have no desire to teach new freelancers what to do. The chances are that you will have plenty of applicants to choose from, so don’t be afraid to narrow down the field.
4. Interview Applicants – Set up online or phone interviews with the most qualified applicants. Be thorough during your interview, and go into the meeting prepared with a list of questions to ask. Request proof of experience, resumes, references and testimonials as applicable. You can even request a lot of this information (such as portfolios etc) in advance. Treat the interview process the same as if you were hiring someone to help in your office or in your home.
By focusing on the interview process and investing your time into hiring the right freelancers, you will easily avoid outsourcing issues that can pop up down the line.
Avoid Outsourcing Issues: Clear Communication Expectations
When it comes to potential outsourcing issues, many of them revolve around the lack of clear communication. Remote freelancers are especially subject to this potential because they are in a remote location where you won’t be crossing paths every single day in the office. You can avoid all of these outsourcing issues by setting up clear communication expectations from the beginning. You want to make it super clear to a new worker how to reach you, when to check in and what to do when they run into issues or have questions. You also want to set up review periods and let the new worker know in advance.
Here are a few expectations to lay out from the beginning.
- How often do you want to be updated on the worker’s progress?
- What communication platform would you prefer? (Email, Skype etc)
- What times of the day are acceptable to both parties?
- How do you want a worker to contact you when issues arise? What constitutes an issue?
- What hours is the new worker expected to work?
Avoid Outsourcing Issues: Onboard Remote Freelancers
Would you hire someone to work in the office or home and not provide any onboarding? Probably not. The same is true for online freelancers. Even the most advanced freelancers will still need some level of onboarding when they start working for your company. You must (at a minimum) explain your business, your goals and visions and your requirements. If you have hired someone with less experience, you may have to spend more time invested in developing the specific skills required to do the tasks.
Here are a few ideas on how to avoid outsourcing issues by creating an onboarding process.
- Create detailed onboarding guides with step by step processes for the tasks you have hired for. This will take an initial investment of your time, but it will pay off dividends in the future.
- Conduct all onboarding sessions via chat, email or video. By using these methods, a worker can return to the material for reference as needed. Voice calls (unless recorded) do not provide this reference.
- Provide feedback while the onboarding is ongoing to enhance the learning process.
- Keep your onboarding up to date as time goes on. You can even outsource this task to a remote worker. Avoid the outsourcing issues that can pop up due to incorrect onboarding material.
Avoid Outsourcing Issues: Listen and Accept Feedback
Just because you are the business owner doesn’t always mean that you know best when it comes to the specifics of every task. After all, isn’t that why you hired online experts and outsourced work? Don’t make the common mistake of not listening to a worker’s ideas and feedback. Freelancerscan bring their great ideas and experience into your business and increase your revenue. They often know the best ways to streamline work, the best tools to use and the best approaches to the tasks they are skilled in. So listen up! And ask for feedback if freelancers don’t offer it up. That is the only way to grow and improve.
Here are a few ways to solicit feedback from freelancers.
- One on one meetings
- Anonymous surveys
- Regular meetings
- Contests and Rewards
Now you have our best strategies to avoid all of the common outsourcing issues. The only thing left to do is go out and put what you have learned to work. We have learned what to do and what not to do through years and years of experience with outsourcing.
Outsourcing can be a significant source of profit and time savings for the smallest business all the way to the largest business. Don’t let the fear of outsourcing issues hold you back. Learn from our mistakes, and put these strategies to work in your own business.
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.