There is a common belief that only big businesses can afford to hire many employees, while the smaller ones, let alone the solopreneurs, simply have to stick to the DIY.
Luckily, remote work has enabled the gig economy to flourish powered by the convenient freelance marketplaces where everybody – and I really mean everybody – can get the expert help they need, when they need it and for how much they can afford.
I specialize in consulting startup founders on how to build and launch their MVPs in a super minimal way by leveraging the open talent model – global freelance marketplaces.
Typically my clients are early stage founders, thus bootstrapping or working within tight investment limits. Often they have an already existing business to keep running in order to feed the spin-off product development.
Still, on average, we manage to work with at least 10 experts in the first few months and always have the right person for the job and the crucial advice to make the best decisions for the business.
But today I’m not even talking about these small businesses. I’m talking about myself. A solopreneur. Somebody who runs a one person show, an independent consulting where it’s simply me. The product is my expertise service. The business is me.
I’m going to give you 10 examples of the tasks that I’ve outsourced and couldn’t be happier about. Read on!
What to outsource as a solopreneur?
- Logo Design
You’re either artistic or you’re not, but there are also many technicalities around it (the resolution, file formats, transparent background or not, etc.).
Instead of trying to do it myself, I contract it out to someone, give them exact details of what logo I’m looking for then go through their versions as they’re submitted.
- Video and Photo Editing
Sure, there are many tools for editing media files and they all claim to be user-friendly. Still, for an inexperienced user to make sure the bullet-points appear one by one as the speaker (myself in the video) says the sentence, would probably take many trials and errors to get in sync.
I’ve outsourced all my video work and kept working on what I’m really good at while the video was being prepared for me.
- Website revamp
In the spirit of the MVP, when I was first starting out, I did a simple website using one of the no-code CMS platforms (mind you, I’m a software engineer myself, but simply not specialized in developing front-end pages and not eager to learn something I don’t plan on doing in the future).
Once my business started taking off, I wanted a more professionally looking website and with the options to integrate the add-ons I needed. I hired a WordPress developer and while he was working for me, I kept working for my clients on the work I plan to continue in the future.
- Website add-ons
When your business is growing, the new needs appear, for example to integrate scheduling calls within a calendar on your website.
The platforms I use like Calendly, MailChimp etc. come with extensive documentation and integration instructions, but then again, I have my primary work to do. Happy to have outsourced the work, the investment has paid off so many times already.
Like many tech driven areas of expertise, this one is subject to the constant changes of the search algorithms, tendencies, and strategies. What might take me days of research, an expert focused on their field can do within a few hours of an audit of my website.
When I’m preparing a talk or webinar, I simply throw the content on the slides and ask for help putting it in a nice format, all elements aligned, all colors combined. Lovely!
- Book cover
Writing a book isn’t an easy task, let alone coming up with a good book cover. Outsourcing a task like designing the book cover to somebody who has the talent and experience required is a huge help and can save you hours of time working on something you’re not qualified to do.
Believe me, even the native speakers use proofreading services. When writing a book (or an extensive article), you are focused on the content and on the flow. The more you read, the less you notice mistakes.
A fresh set of eyes can make a huge difference. I loved reading my chapters put in an elegant error-free version by the proofreader I hired.
The online world can get complicated with all the different rules for the formats that are accepted by certain platforms.
While it does make sense to have some standards that make things more convenient for the content consumers, it’s a lot to keep track of. My book final file was produced by a freelancer who does that multiple times per day and knows the formats front to back.
- Keywords research
Based on your suggested keywords and your ToC, an experienced person can find the keywords that you can leverage to drive more visitors. This does take a lot of time and experience, and I’ll keep outsourcing for sure.
While I am 100% satisfied with my experience so far, in the next phase, I’d like to experiment with a long-term VA that would get deeper into my business and help me with the tasks that are more on the ”outside”, like reaching out to potential partners, checking in on the ongoing activities with the other collaborators, etc.
How to outsource as a solopreneur?
What I tell my clients, I apply myself as well, and here it is: any successful collaboration, whether it’s a long-term one with a core team member, a one-time simple assignment, or a partnership arrangement, is built on and requires all of the following 10 points for successful outsourcing:
- Your own clarity on what you need help with and what you expect from the collaboration
Give yourself a diagnosis. hehe! What do you suffer from? What do you struggle with? And: what kind of result would make you happy and feel that your problem has been solved?
- Your own clarity whether it’s the lack of expertise or lack of time that you are trying to solve
This is crucial. If you lack time, you find a follower type to teach/train to overtake some of the tasks from you, usually the repetitive ones.
On the other hand, if it’s the expertise you are lacking, well, you need an expert. And you need to be able to express your pain point to them clearly.
- Selection of the right collaborator
Freelance marketplaces use references from previous clients to present the freelancers to the potential new clients. Together with the freelancer’s profile, the references are a great tool when selecting.
In addition, I like doing video calls with the top 3 candidates, to get that feeling if we are indeed on the same page.
- Selecting the right collaborator at the right time and on the right terms (full / part time, long / short term, or on an as-needed basis)
Often entrepreneurs are reluctant to hire and wait too long and get in the situation when the work needs to be redone by the expert when they finally join.
In addition, there are many research tasks, solution suggestions etc., that should be done prior to starting acting. With freelancers, you can do one time consulting, or arrange to be in touch on an as-needed basis, but don’t be reluctant when reaching out for help and advice.
- Crystal clear input
No matter if it’s a simple one time task or a complex consulting request, list down all you have in a systematic way so it’s easy for the freelancer to understand.
- Well defined output
Make sure you and your collaborator are on the same page with the goal of the collaboration and outline it clearly in writing so they have it to refer to at all times during the work..
- Patience and openness to hear the suggestions
Your business is your love child, I know. You know your domain and you know your customer base. But remember that you’re reaching out to an expert because something was missing in the first place. Hear them out and listen to the ideas they have for your project.
- Pre-defined collaboration tools and processes
Solopreneurs tend to think that they don’t need management tools and processes as they are not a team…they are solo. However, if you don’t want to be hearing the same questions again and again from each freelancer, digging into old email threads, losing track of what has been done and what is due and when, start managing from day 1. All the info in one place, all the tasks on the board, etc.
- Maintaining the professional relationship during the collaboration
Remember that each expert is a business on their own, just like you. They offer their expert services, they invest into their expertise upgrades, and they handle multiple clients at the same time.
Let them know in advance when their services will (not) be needed, ask what they think about your plan, etc. Show that you trust them and value their services.
- Staying in touch after the collaboration has been wrapped up
It’s always easier to get additional work done by somebody who already knows your business and your way of running it. Keep in touch with your ex-collaborators and cultivate your network so you can tap into them in the future as needed as well.
The world’s become extremely remote and there is no reason to limit your business within the walls nor to do everything yourself. To learn more, check out:
- Outsource School: https://outsourceschool.com
- My remote startup consultancy: http://remotestartupsetup.com/
- My book with my co-author Vannessa Tierny who comes from the talent specialist background: “Your Company with No Walls – How to Master the Remote Leadership Fast”: https://yourcompanywithnowalls.com/
Tijana Momirov is a software engineer, product manager and founder of StartupSetup where she helps founders start their startups, all in a remote, agile and super lean way by leveraging the gig economy. She’s been a full time nomad since 2010 and loves blogging and giving talks about nomadic lifestyle, managing remote teams, future of work, the gig economy, productized services and more. She is a co-author of “Your Company with No Walls” and mentor at various startup organizations.