There comes a time in every business owner’s life when they need help. Whether it’s an influx of clients or a need to take those pesky admin tasks off your plate, seeking support in your business is not a bad thing. It is usually a good sign that your company is growing in the right direction.
For many creative solopreneurs, outsourcing is a simple, low-risk way to get the help you need without the commitment of hiring employees, managing payroll and HR tasks and even changing your type of business entity. 1099 contractors are typically a more flexible option for business owners who do not want to take on too many leadership responsibilities.
While the best freelancers and contractors are capable of self-regulating their workload and defining their hours, it does not mean you can step away and let them run the show. You might not be leading a team of employees, but you are still the head of your business and the champion for your brand. It is up to you to ensure that your contractors meet expectations while staying true to your values.
If you have been considering outsourcing as a way to open up your schedule and take on more work, it is generally worth a shot. However, before taking the plunge, you must audit your operations to ensure hiring a contractor will be a fruitful endeavor rather than an extra burden.
Here are three boxes that need to be checked before you start your search:
1. Your Finances
In the long run, outsourcing specific tasks can increase profit margins as it frees you up to accept more paid work. However, you will usually have to pay your contractors before you see the fruits of their labor. In some cases, you may have to pay a deposit upfront.
While there is no denying the benefits of outsourcing, it should only be explored if you have the cash-on-hand and it will not put you into the red. If you have been pinching pennies due to the pandemic and worrying about losing your business, it’s better to wait until you’ve stabilized than to hire someone that you are not yet equipped to pay.
If your finances are steady and you have a bit of cushion to hire someone, do some light number-crunching to see how much you can set aside each month for outsourcing. This sum will help you to determine the rates you are comfortable paying per service and set a budget cap, if necessary.
2. Your Operations
You might think that hiring a freelancer to jump into content production or bookkeeping will automatically make your life easier from day one. However, bringing a contractor into a disorganized and sloppy business structure will only cause headaches and start the relationship off on the wrong foot. Before taking on any leadership role, you need to make sure that your systems and processes are efficient and streamlined.
For example, if you are ready to start outsourcing social media management, you can’t expect a freelancer to come in and clean up your mess. You need to optimize your profiles to make it easy to ramp them up. Create simple logins for your profiles, sign up for a scheduling app, start a spreadsheet with content ideas and preferred hashtags, organize your photo albums in a cloud folder — you get the gist.
Keep it clean and easy; otherwise, you will create confusion and waste everyone’s time as you try to explain the method to the madness. Just go ahead and skip the madness altogether. It will be better for everybody.
3. Your Onboarding Process
When the lightbulb moment strikes and you decide it’s time to outsource, it is easy to get carried away with excitement. You can’t wait to get that annoying admin work out of your hair. You look forward to having someone who understands accounting to oversee your books.
No matter the outsourcing tasks, you need to prepare an onboarding plan before actively searching for the right candidate. Otherwise, you may end up hiring a freelancer with little guidance on your brand voice, client experience and the like. You have spent far too much time growing your business to risk your brand’s consistency with an unversed contractor.
Before sending out any feelers, sit down and define what you need to outsource. This will help you determine the type of contractor you need to hire and draw up expectations for the position. For example, a virtual assistant will have vastly different responsibilities than a web designer; but, if you only need light website edits every few months, a VA may very well be able to fill that role.
Once you are clear on your needs and expectations:
- Begin to create an onboarding manual for your soon-to-be contractor.
- Consider everything they will need to know to succeed in their role, from your brand adjectives to your project management software login.
- Include detailed step-by-step descriptions that will support your contractor’s self-guidance.
Pro Tip: Remember: The beauty of outsourcing is having someone on your team that is independent and reliable. However, they need the tools to get the job done. They may have years of experience in their field, but every company is unique—including yours—and you will need to help to immerse them in your brand and teach them the way you do business.
If you can look at these three elements — your finances, your operations, your onboarding process and confirm that they are all in a good place and optimized to grow your business, then it is worth testing the waters and outsourcing some of those tasks that are taking up your time and energy.
Once you do, you will find the freedom and abundance that comes with leaning fully into what you love most. When you remove your business’s noise, you will rediscover creativity and find satisfaction in letting go of those necessary but draining responsibilities.