This past year has turned the working world on its axis. We’ve learned that a remote workforce is not only viable but often more efficient than an office environment. And if remote work is more effective than a traditional, in-person office, it is only logical that this concept could apply to in-house employees and outsourced contractors alike.
Contractors can take on a wide variety of roles, from virtual assistants to small companies and everything in between. Basically, they are anyone who isn’t a traditional W2 employee. While many entrepreneurs have tried to scale their business and reduce costs by outsourcing with low-cost virtual assistants from developing countries, others have amazing stories about how it transformed their business in a positive way.
Robert Nickell is one of those entrepreneurs. He’s long used contract employees and virtual assistants to help his businesses. Through trial and error and over time, he’s found a system that works for him. He went on to test and refine until his business was humming like a finely-tuned machine. That eventually led to the creation of the virtual assistant agency, Rocket Station, that he runs today with a staff of nearly 900 employees. “I knew that if I had this need, other entrepreneurs did as well. I also knew that they would face many of the same challenges I did. Between those two pieces of information, I identified a tremendous opportunity, and that’s when Rocket Station was born.”
There’s a lot to learn about outsourcing from Nickell’s journey, and here are four steps to outsource successfully.
Determine Which Task To Delegate
To be as effective as possible in your role, It is vital to correctly evaluate which tasks are essential and non-essential for you to complete. We all get assigned certain tasks throughout our week that build up and distract us from what is important. Nickell says the key is to correctly identify which tasks only you can complete so that you can focus on those and outsource the rest.
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As much as you might want to, you can’t do everything. Good leaders know how to delegate, and oftentimes, non-essential tasks can and should be outsourced.
Document Every Step Of Your Process
One of the keys to successful outsourcing is to hand off thorough documentation of your processes. Nickell explains, “We often take our own knowledge and experience for granted, so when we hand tasks off to someone who doesn’t have that same level of knowledge and experience, they will struggle or fail. When that happens, it’s not on them—it’s on you.”
Your processes should be documented so clearly that someone with little experience will still be able to understand and perform that task. You can use a free tool like Diagrams.net to create a flowchart of steps in a task, and the diagrams you create can be saved directly to any of the major cloud storage services. Or, you can use a service like Loom to make videos of your process. That way, your team always has access to the most current versions of your processes.
Hire Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants can make all the difference in the efficiency of your company. But do you want to outsource to US-based or overseas virtual assistants? Nickell says there are pros and cons to each. “A lot of people think virtual assistants from overseas are only able to perform very basic tasks, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have VAs performing everything from low-level tasks like inbox management all the way to writing and editing copy, bookkeeping, and graphic design. The key is to hire the right person for the job—not just the cheapest person,” Nickell says.
The upside of outsourcing internationally is that, because of their lower cost of living, it costs significantly less to hire them—often, as little as one-third of the cost. At that rate, you’re often able to get someone with an impressive set of job skills, a college degree, and proficiency in English for a fraction of the cost. You can also save some money by hiring virtual assistants yourself, but working with an agency can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Track and Measure Your Performance
What gets measured gets improved. But how do you know you are measuring the right things? “Getting Key Performance Indicators right is critical. You have to make sure the KPIs encourage the kind of activities that drive your company towards your goals rather than just keeping your team busy,” Nickell explained.
Ask yourself what metrics will make a difference in your company performance and continually measure them over time. Becoming a student of your company’s data will only lead to a better understanding of what is working and what isn’t.
Outsourcing offers companies the ability to focus their efforts on strategic tasks and delegate essential tasks to others. This can move companies toward a renewed focus on their growth strategy and make more time for leadership to innovate. Outsourcing is a viable solution for entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses and save money in the process.