Who doesn’t want to get more done, make more money and free up more personal time when it comes to running their businesses? We could probably do all three if we could figure out how to add ten or more hours to our day. Unfortunately, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. The good news is that we don’t need more hours in the day. It isn’t the number of hours that matters. It is how you use them!
One of the most valuable productivity tools that a business owner can utilize is delegation and outsourcing. You may be reading this and wonder, “What is outsourcing?” If you have questions about outsourcing or asking yourself what is outsourcing, this article is for you. We will be discussing what outsourcing is, how it can help your business and what tasks are great to outsource.
What is Outsourcing?
So, exactly what is outsourcing? What does it mean to outsource?
Outsourcing (also sometimes known as “contracting out” or delegating) is a common business practice used by companies big and small to reduce costs or improve productivity by shifting certain tasks to an external third party group or individual. You can think about it like hiring a housekeeper to clean your house or a lawn company to mow your yard. You likely already outsource in your personal life, so perhaps it is time to do the same in your business.
How Can Outsourcing Help my Business?
Remember how I said we all have the same 24 hours in a day? That is a truth that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So if we all have the same 24 hours a day, how can we possibly live a great life and run a successful business by ourselves? Well, we don’t! By outsourcing certain tasks in your business, you can free up your own time and get a significant return on investment while your business flourishes.
• Outsourcing allows you to focus on money generating tasks. No longer will you be spending all of your time creating graphics, writing blog posts or doing your own bookkeeping. While those tasks are extremely important, they aren’t necessarily the tasks that will cause your business to reach extreme growth. As business owner, it is your job to make sure you are staying up with the competition and consistently analyzing the market for potential growth. But how can you possibly spend your time on that if you are busy with other tasks? When you begin to outsource tasks, you can utilize your time wiser by spending it strategically.
• Outsourcing gives you your life back. How many small business owners and entrepreneurs end up burnt out and unhappy because they are spending all of their time in their business? A lot! We hustle and hustle and forget that there are other aspects to life. Our health suffers. Our families suffer. But why? When you begin to outsource the tasks in your business, you will be able to spend more time living life while still enjoying the benefits of a booming business.
• Outsourcing allows your customers and clients to have the best service. Perhaps you are a jack of all trades, but when you split your focus you cannot be an expert at anything. But you don’t have to be. Why spend hours of your day learning social media hacks when you can hire someone who breaths social media day and night? Why learn grammar when you can hire a professional writer? And wouldn’t you want the best customer service reps available to represent your business? You can have experts in every field when you begin to outsource tasks in your business. Oftentimes, outsourcing to experts results in a return on investment because you have hired someone with the knowledge and expertise to do the work efficiently and quickly (but also of high quality).
What is outsourcing? Outsourcing is a way to grow your business without getting sidetracked, wasting your time or allowing your business to take over your entire life. Outsourcing is a way to increase productivity, efficiency and income in your business. It can be the best decision you’ve ever made as a business owner.
What Tasks Can be Outsourced?
The most natural next question when it comes to explaining the answer to the question “What is outsourcing?” is what tasks can be outsourced. When it comes to hiring online professionals and outsourcing tasks of your business, the sky is the limit. You can outsource just about anything that you do in your business from writing to shipping to bookkeeping to customer service and more. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of just how many of your daily tasks can be outsourced. These are just your daily administrative tasks!
Manage your Calendar
In order to keep your business running smoothly and creating a profit, you need to have an organized calendar so you know which appointments and meetings to attend. Managing a calendar is a task that can easily be outsourced. Simply set up one of many shared calendar services (many such as Google Calendar are free). Give a virtual assistant access and allow he or she to handle setting up appointments for you. You can sync your smart phone to your calendar so that as the assistant adds to your calendar, you get notified.
Email is one of the worst distractions for business owners. Without even realizing it, you can be sucked into emails for hours and hours. Outsource this task to keep you from that drain of valuable time. An online worker can screen out anything unimportant and reply to those common requests. He or she can also filter, archive and flag messages so that when you do check your email, you aren’t distracted.
Invoicing is important. Without it, oftentimes you won’t get paid. But invoicing can be a tedious task that business owners often put off and sometimes forget about altogether. Getting paid is essential to staying in business, so outsource it and let a virtual assistant handle it for you. An assistant can easily build a template and manage all your business invoicing – both sent and received.
Social media presence is critical in today’s online world. Everyone from the very young to the very old have some sort of social media following. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get their attention using this powerful media. But social media is another one of those time sucking activities that can steal you away from your most important business tasks. Once you determine how you want to handle your social media, delegate this task to a virtual assistant. Many virtual assistants specialize in social media and will be able to help you come up with the best strategy for your business.
As a business owner, you’ll need lots of content. From blog posts to newsletters and sales pages, the written word is everywhere. And not only do you need content, you need GOOD content. That content is what will draw potential customers in and convince them to pull out their wallets. Even if you love to write, you must be a skilled copy writer to turn heads. There are many skilled virtual assistants who are able to use their experience and onboarding to write powerful copy specific to your target market.
Searching the world wide web for information may seem simple enough, but most of the time it is more complicated than it sounds. It can turn into a project that takes hours and hours if you aren’t careful. Let a virtual assistant do your research for you. If you need research completed for a presentation, a meeting or a new idea you have, outsource it to a virtual assistant. Once all of the research is compiled and organized, you can briefly go through it and pull out exactly what you need without wasting hours of your time.
Depending on your business, you may travel a lot. Even if not for your business, travel may be a big part of your lifestyle. But once you have a virtual assistant, the planning and booking part of travel can be outsourced. You can free up all of that time previously spent searching for the best deals and struggling with detailed planning. If an assistant is managing your calendar, he or she can simply book your travel arrangements and add and link all of the necessary information directly to your calendar.
Managing projects and deadlines can be a daunting task when you are busy. You still want to make sure you hit all of your milestones and deliverables, but you don’t want to waste your time tracking everything. Project management is a perfect task for a virtual assistant. There are many online platforms such as Asana that can be set up and managed so that you can stay on top of status updates without having to do all of the hands on work. Outsource this task and hire an online worker to set up an account and keep it updated. He or she can send out reminders and check in with responsible parties for you. The best part is that most platforms will sync directly to your calendar and phone so you always know how everything is progressing.
Two sets of eyes are always better than one set. No matter how intimately familiar you are with the content, you may skip right over errors or typos. Allow a virtual assistant to read over and proof read all types of documents from eBooks to contracts. It won’t take up a lot of time, and you’ll likely save a lot of heartache and potential embarrassment down the line. After all, you don’t want to show up to a big presentation with a big typo or misspelling!
There are many highly skilled online workers for hire. Once you have hired one who is familiar with your business, don’t be timid about asking for help with creative work. He or she might just come up with an angle you hadn’t considered or even do better than you might have. An assistant may also be a good sounding board for new ideas. They may have experience you lack. They may have better ideas or varying approaches that would work better. Obviously you don’t want outsource important decisions, but there is no reason an assistant can’t help come up with ideas or do some of the leg work for you. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Those are just a few of the daily tasks you may consider outsourcing. Depending on the type of business you run, there will be many other options that you may want to outsource that are more specific to your company or the service you offer. The options are endless, and there are experts available in almost any field you can think of.
What is outsourcing? Outsourcing is one of the best decisions you can make as a small business owner looking to grow. By outsourcing and hiring online workers, you can increase your income while also increasing your time. While it can be intimidating to spend money to outsource tasks, your return on investment can be significant. Watch your business thrive and enjoy the life of a business owner. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference and impact outsourcing can make on your bottom line (and your personal life!)
Got a few minutes to spare? Make a list of all of the tasks in your business that could be outsourced. Identify the tasks that you either don’t enjoy doing, spend too much time doing or aren’t proficient at. The top 5 tasks are a great place to begin outsourcing. Start small and see the benefits for yourself. You can always increase the number of outsourced tasks as you go.
If you are ready to explore the opportunities of how outsourcing can change the reality of your business, start the process by outsourcing your first task.
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.