Every savvy small business knows that outsourcing is the smartest way to run a small business.
Small businesses have a lot to manage at a single time but fewer resources to manage them. Often the key players are attending to the frontlines of the business. That means that other important areas of the business often don’t get the attention they need.
Savvy small businesses, however, know that they can gain the competitive edge they need by outsourcing important tasks at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time employee.
That’s where outsourcing comes in.
Outsourcing is the process of hiring others to perform tasks off-site. This could be ghostwriters, graphic designers, marketing directors or bookkeepers to name just a few.
Ultimately, outsourcing means that businesses can spend their time on high priority items while still generating a return on investment on the tasks they don’t have time to do.
Of course, outsourcing has its own pitfalls if not approached correctly.
Since outsourcing is completed off-site, there is the issue of quality given that freelancers are not familiar with the ins and outs of your company (and that’s saying nothing of the horror stories that can be associated with some contractors).
At the same time, it is important to know that outsourcing while maintaining quality is possible. The key is to have certain systems in place.
A Strong Selection Process: Background Research
Finding quality freelancers begins with a strong selection process. You have a couple of different options. You can reach out to those in your own network and ask for personal recommendations or you can consult online marketplaces like Upwork (formerly Elance-o-Desk).
LinkedIn is another option.
The great thing about many of these online marketplaces is that often offer a rating or have reviews of past clients who have worked with them. This gives you direct insight into the kind of quality of work they completed for others.
Also include specific instructions in your job description (for example, suggest that candidates include something specific in the subject line of the email). This ensures that candidates have at least some attention to detail. Simply delete the emails that didn’t pass the test.
Just like any employee, a strong selection process is required. When it comes to freelancers, however, you also have to take it a step further. Ensure that freelancers have the specific skills and industry experience that pertains to your particular business.
If a ghostwriter, for example, has ten years of experience but it’s in the health industry, the freelancer likely won’t have the skills to write business-related articles for your business.
If you are hiring ghostwriters, web designers or graphic designers, also ask for examples of their work. Serious freelancers will have a professional portfolio of their past work as well.
Interview Them Face-to-Face
The next step is to meet the potential hire either in-person or virtually. This gives you the opportunity to feel the person out and to ask them the important questions. For example, are they able to speak to the skills they’ve listed on their resume?
This is also a great way for businesses to establish that they are serious about the freelancer from the very beginning and set high expectations from the outset.
It also communicates to the freelancer that they are part of the team, which is an important step in ensuring that quality work is produced.
Here are some questions that every business should ask their freelancers.
Have Them Complete a Paid Test Project
Once you have narrowed down a couple of candidates, have them a paid test project. This is a great option for those hiring writers or graphic designers. While it means that you will be paying the freelancers for their services, it is an initial investment that pays off.
If it meets your standards, it also means you can put that content to use.
Offering a paid test project allows you to determine whether or not the person is capable of completing the task from the very beginning.
Assign them a project with a lot of small details and a hard deadline. This will give you an idea of whether or not they have a good attention to detail (which is often essential for quality) and whether or not they are able to meet deadlines.
Onboarding is Key
Once you’ve selected your final candidate(s), it is important to meet with the freelancer again to explain more details about how things are done at your business as well as smaller details of the particular task(s) at hand.
In fact, if you’ve had your freelancer complete a paid project, now is the time to discuss the results of the project and to discuss any changes you’d like them to make.
Again, when it comes to outsourcing, it is all about laying the groundwork. By investing the necessary time in the beginning, you are setting yourself up to be in a position to be able to receive quality work from here on out.
Aim to Assemble a Team of Long-Term Freelancers
Don’t work with a freelancer just a couple of times. Once you’ve found a freelancer that has completed a few projects and that were completed to your standards, have them sign a contract to be part of your team.
Provide Freelancers with Clear Instructions
To ensure that freelancers are meeting the quality that you’re looking for, be as clear as possible with your instructions, especially for newer tasks that they haven’t completed before.
You can even give them a time estimate of how long you’re looking for them to spend on a certain type of project.
Above all, ensure that you’re as clear as possible with your instructions, especially in the beginning. Consider providing them with samples of the type of quality you’re looking for as well.
The Bottom Line
Outsourcing is a great asset to every small business, if not an absolute essential. While quality is potentially at stake when hiring freelancers, you can keep quality consistently high and generate the most return by laying the necessary groundwork from the very beginning.
Arash Asli is at the forefront of business growth helping SMBs grow their businesses, as CEO of Yocale.com, an online scheduling and marketing platform. His thought leadership have been featured in major publications including Forbes, Huffington Post, and Inc. He is honoured to have been named the Business in Vancouver's Top Forty under 40 business executive. https://yocale.com/