No matter where you are on your career journey, the thought of outsourcing can be scary. When your entire business and income depend solely on you, trusting someone else to help fill in the gaps is stressful; most of us would rather do everything ourselves. We cling to responsibility — that ‘can-do’ attitude is what made us entrepreneurs in the first place, right? But the difficult reality is that holding so hard to every aspect of our businesses will stunt our growth, and ultimately burn us out.
So how do you start outsourcing, especially when you don’t have a huge budget for hiring a team? The trick is to start small. Make a list of the parts of your business that stress you out. What do you hate doing? Even if you’re perfectly capable of doing your own bookkeeping, is it really worthwhile for you to do it if you dread it and feel nauseous while looking at the numbers? Create a list of stressful tasks that don’t require you to be the one doing them. Then start categorizing those tasks and try outsourcing one of them. And as is so often the case in our tech-driven world: there’s probably an app for that.
If you’re building your business while staying home with young kids, then you are a rockstar — but you don’t have to do it all alone. Could you hire help even just one morning per week to give you some dedicated work time? You’ll probably be surprised with how much you can accomplish when you have a few hours of uninterrupted time. Check out tools like Urban Sitter or Seeking Sitters to find affordable, safe options in your area.
Personal: Cleaning Service
Hiring a cleaning service doesn’t sound like a business expense, but consider your quality of life. If small house tasks like vacuuming and scrubbing the toilet eat up your precious time, your business won’t grow as quickly as it could. This is especially true if you work from home and constantly feel distracted by the sink full of dishes. Try hiring a cleaning service once per month and then work up from there — apps like Handy and Takl can connect you with cleaners (and other service providers, if you need some shelves put together!)
Don’t you hate sitting on hold with your insurance company or standing in line at the post office? You can easily do these errands yourself, but how much time do all those little tasks add up to? If your time would be better spent growing your business, consider hiring a personal assistant for a couple hours per week. Finding and hiring someone for this can be tricky; check with an agency if you want someone in-person. Otherwise, there’s always online options like Fin or Fancy Hands.
Business: Virtual Assistant
God bless virtual assistants! There are freelancers all over the globe who love doing the little tasks that bog you down, and they’re probably better at them than you. A virtual assistant typically has more expertise than a personal assistant, and can handle more business-oriented tasks. They could take over managing your inbox, researching your projects, editing your writing, creating your website graphics, and so much more. Finding a virtual assistant can be as simple as asking around your network or LinkedIn, but hiring can be stressful. Check out sites like Zirtual, or the more high-level WorldWide101, to connect you with just the right new teammate.
Staying on top of your business finances is crucial for growing your income, but so many of us avoid our numbers. If this sounds familiar, talk with an accountant or bookkeeper. This could be just a few hours per month but save you loads of stress and mental energy. There are less options for this virtually; accounting sites like Billy are great for solopreneurs doing it on their own, but if you’re looking for a dedicated bookkeeper, plan on spending at least a few hundred dollars per month. Dive into your network and get referrals from other business owners; this advice from Quickbooks can also help you find the perfect person!
Once you get started…
Once you decide what you’d like to outsource, start documenting your current process. This will help you get organized, and become a handy resource for your new employee or contractor. The more you can train them in up front, the fewer problems you’ll come across along the way.
Fortunately, outsourcing is not an all-or-nothing process. Take your time and find what works for you. When interviewing a potential virtual assistant or contractor, ask to start with a trial period. This will give you both a chance to make sure it’s a good fit and prevent you from pouring money into someone who can’t provide what you need.
As your business evolves and grows, so will your need for outsourcing. Take some time every few months or so to evaluate your process and ask yourself what needs to be tweaked. You’ll have a chance to see the return on your investment, and see the benefit of those dollars — before you know it, you’ll forget why you resisted outsourcing in the first place.