As you build a brand, you're going to build a business. And as you build a business, your client list and your to-do list are going to grow.
How will you handle the influx of work necessary for supporting all the ideal clients you'll bring on-board…and keep them happy whilst impressing them every day?
You're going to have to outsource tasks.
I know, I know. You've tried that. It didn't go very well. You spent money, time and effort only to realise that it's easier just to do it yourself.
Here's the thing: as your business grows, you're not going to be able to keep all those balls in the air; plus, growing strong and right will require that you have experts in every facet of your business—not just the part you're responsible for.
I endured some serious challenges in outsourcing, and I learnt some valuable lessons.
And as I'm sure you've guessed, I'm about to share that wisdom with you.
Build a Brand with Killer Outsourcing
If you're going to build a brand that's credible, visible and profitable (and capable of supporting the lifestyle of your dreams), you're going to need a power team that's nothing short of spectacular.
I'm not going to lie: getting there is going to require a lot of patience. However, once you arrive, every bit of effort you put into finding those experts and contributors is going to multiply its worth.
So, before you get onto Fiverr, Upwork or any other freelance resource, I highly recommend you tick off the items on this list:
- Decide what Tasks you'll be Outsourcing. Well, that's kind of obvious, isn't it? Maybe not. There's a tendency to want to outsource the same tasks as other businesses are outsourcing, when in fact, maybe you should be outsourcing something completely different. Write down every task that's necessary for keeping your business running. Then, divide those tasks into three categories: A (those things you love to do and are great at), B (those things you can do, but that aren't your strong suits), and C (the things you should not be doing). You're going to outsource the C tasks first, followed by the B tasks. As your brand grows, you may find that B tasks become C tasks (as your occupation with A tasks increases). This is to be expected, and for this reason, your business's systems should be evaluated regularly.
- Create a Killer Brief. If you want to get killer outsourcing candidates, you're going to need a killer brief. The brief is the description of the job you need done, and the clearer, more concise and thorough it is, the more likely it is that you'll get a highly qualified candidate and that they'll complete the job to your standards. When you write the description of what you want done, be clear about the outcome you want, about the timeline you're working with and the quality you expect. Imagine that you're the freelancer. What types of things would you want to know about the project? And what types of the things would you want to know about what is expected?
- Create a Service-Level Agreement. Will the project include milestones or phases? Will you pay the candidate after each milestone is completed, or will you hold payment until delivery is complete? What kind of timeline are you working with? And do you want the work to be completed in phases or all at once? These are the topics you'll need to address before you find yourself in a situation where the deadline has passed and you don't have the product in your possession.
- Produce Instructional Videos. I have done this for virtually every digital system we use, so that any new contractor or team member can jump right in and get started. Rather than having to explain with verbal or written step-by-step instructions, I use software that records my on-screen activities so that people can follow along with the video and learn for themselves. I only have to "teach" it once, and they have unlimited access to it for reference. ScreenFlow, QuickTime and Camtasia are some examples of on-screen recording software applications you can use. I would recommend publishing these videos on Vimeo or some other password-protected private hosting site so that only your team can access these instructions.
- Weed out Non-Candidates Early. If you've never posted a job on an online freelancer resource, you might be overwhelmed at the number of responses you get. And you also might be surprised to learn that many of the responses are not even remotely relevant to your task. Why? Because applicants are not taking the time to read your brief! To cut down on the garbage, include instructions calling for a random phrase of your choosing (I have used PINK ELEPHANT in the past) to be inserted, in CAPS, in the title of all proposals. Then when you're scrolling through responses, you can delete any that don't include that phrase. Because really, who wants to work with someone who doesn't follow instructions?
- Take Note of Reviews and Completed Projects. All online freelancer resources show work histories and feedback. If the candidate has completed lots of jobs similar to yours and has a 4- or 5-star rating, they're worth consideration.
- Google Them. Are their online profiles and feedback from past customers reflective of what they're promising to you? Look for social proof, for examples of work, for mentions by others…and use what you find to determine if they're being genuine with you or if they're padding their application to fit your requirements.
- Stay in Contact. After you hire an outside contractor, stay in touch to monitor their progress and to make sure your project doesn't fall to the bottom of their list. Freelancers are generally pretty busy, and the loudest wheels (clients) get the grease (attention). You don't have to be loud; however, you do have to monitor progress (at least until they prove they are self-motivators).
- Be Their Dream Client. Lots of business owners search for their dream contractors, freelancers, team members and employees. And then they forget to be the dream client those people are looking for (and will want to continue to work for). Most of your contractors' clients are going to ignore hard work and do a lot of complaining. Be the one who gives positive feedback, who shows appreciation and who stays in touch for more than making demands. You will stand out from that freelancer's other clients, which will equate to all kinds of good things for you, including pre-deadline deliveries and fair pricing.
Every outsourced candidate will require some management when the relationship is new, and you're probably going to encounter some duds before you find that diamond in the rough.
However, I can attest to the fact that it's worth the time and effort. Search well, scrutinise thoroughly, follow closely…and someday, you'll find yourself the proud leader of an independent, profit-producing team.
Have more questions about outsourcing? Or about how to build a brand in today's world? Then I invite you to join the How to Build a Brand group and post your questions. I host a live Brand Breakthroughs Session every Wednesday at 7 pm, and I would love nothing more than to answer your questions at that time. Joining the group is FREE. You've got nothing to lose—only a killer brand to build.