Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – the importance of outsourcing

I’m a financial coach and also a part-time martyr. There’s so much to do when running a business – email, marketing, web development, social media – and until recently I thought I had to do all of it myself. Some of these activities I actually enjoy, and some I’m reasonably good at; others, though, take ages and make me unhappy. Finally recognising my limits has given me a lot more headspace to work on the important stuff.

In this post, I’ll champion the importance of outsourcing and give you some ideas for freeing up your time. I’ll also share a great tip for finding the best freelancers.

Online Marketplaces

Although the internet has destroyed our attention span and made us all angry, it’s also now much easier to hire experts. Websites such as Fiverr, TaskRabbit, Upwork, and Peopleperhour offer a pool of freelancers around the world who can complete our least favourite tasks in a fraction of the time.

It’s important to acknowledge some ethical issues here. Some sites require freelancers to compete for jobs by doing spec work. The client potentially receives dozens of designs, then chooses the best. Those who are rejected receive no payment. While this is theoretically good for the client, it’s bound to impact upon quality. And, of course, it feels exploitative to many of us.

Here’s a better way of finding the best freelancers. In his book 80/20 Sales and Marketing, Perry Marshall suggests giving the same project to multiple freelancers. Pick something small and cheap – say, a social media image – and see what you get. This gives you the opportunity to assess speed and quality without spending too much money. You pick the winner and everyone gets paid. Then you know who to trust with a bigger project.

You don’t necessarily need to look online, either. There could be top people in your local area. I use a company called Stoats and Weasels for all my design work. Although I know how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, the results often look as though I was using the mouse with my nose.

What else could you outsource?

You’re probably already outsourcing some obvious activities, such as bookkeeping or completing your company accounts. What else could you outsource?

  • Creating spreadsheets (especially if they contain complicated formulas)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation on your blog content)
  • Website maintenance (updating WordPress plugins, running backups)
  • Transcription (podcasts, interviews, meetings)
  • Routine data entry

If you’re regularly outsourcing the same tasks, it might be worth finding a virtual assistant. Some just cover basic admin tasks, but others specialise in more technical areas.

Paying someone else for stuff you could do yourself might feel counterintuitive. It’s particularly tough in the early days of building a business when money is tight. However, by outsourcing those time-consuming tasks, your hourly rate will soar. You’ll also have more energy and focus. You can’t put a price on that.

Catherine Pope

I'm a financial coach who loves Victorian novels, technology, and big books about pensions.

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