Small business owners like you need to outsource work to make the best use of time. If you are like most business owners, you always have too much on your plate. Most often this is because you don’t have the resources to hire staff. That’s a problem, but not when you outsource work.
Time is a valuable commodity for all small business owners, and you will always need more of it. When you outsource work, you can operate with smaller budgets and solve the problem of getting back this precious time that you need to work on your business and not in it.
Here’s how to outsource work to get back as much as four hours per day.
(1) Check Your Tasks
The first thing that you need to do when you’re ready to outsource work is to evaluate your current average day of work. List out all the tasks that you are doing on a daily basis. If you do different tasks on different days, then make separate lists for each of those days.
Next to each task, jot down the time that you usually spend doing it. If it varies week to week, just note down a good guess of the average number of hours you spend working on that task in a month. This is not just to get an idea of how much time you’re spending in your business, but will be vital as you proceed to the next step in the process.
Outsource Work that’s Easy to Do
Go over your list and mark all the tasks that are the simplest, then the ones that are repetitive. Examples of simple tasks include data entry, research, and calendar management.
Examples of repetitive tasks include bookkeeping, inbox management, and social media posting. Pick out any other things that you are doing but really shouldn’t be handling, given your expertise and position in your business. This can include customer service, creating and editing documents and other content, and invoicing and banking tasks.
Outsource Work that Requires Special Skills
The final set of tasks are the specialized tasks. These can include website maintenance, sales analytics, and graphic design. Mark any tasks on your list that require special skills, even if you’re good at these tasks or you like doing them. Keeping tasks like these on your plate will only serve to set you back from growing in your business. It can be hard to let go, but you need to prepare yourself to be able to outsource work that you would rather do yourself. Think of it in terms of what is best for your business so that you can set your personal preferences aside.
You should be easily able to count up four hours’ worth of tasks every day from your lists.
(2) Compose Role Descriptions
Now comes that hardest part in the journey to outsource work, which isn’t really all that difficult at all if you just set aside some focused time to get it done properly. I know that you are probably already drowning in important things to do. Remember that this little block of time that you take right now to solve the bigger time issue will bring back up to four times its own value every single day.
Focus on the simplest tasks first. All these tasks are usually administrative in nature and can often be accomplished by a single general virtual assistant. Of course, this depends on how many hours of this type of task you have on your plate. The point is to start with one person so that you can focus on getting them set up in the role before you make a second hire. Getting all the simplest tasks out of the way will give you enough time to handle succeeding hires.
If there are any tasks that you think are simple but actually require a higher level of skill, mark them the same as the other specialized tasks. You can outsource these after you get through the simple and repetitive tasks.
Start your role description with a strong title that includes the major tasks you need to be done and any special tools the right candidate should know how to use, and other main qualities they need to possess. This will help you to outsource work more efficiently as you attract the right candidates from the very beginning. Here’s a good example of a title:
Google Docs Administrative Assistant | Strong English, Team Player
Begin this section with a short description of your business. Then break the tasks down into the skills that are needed to do them well. Based on the example above, data entry, research, and calendar management would require skills like:
- typing rate of 50 to 80 words per minute
- accuracy and attention to detail
- stable internet connection
- strong attendance
Include information on the rate that you are expecting to pay, any preferred location for the candidate, and the number of hours that you need them to work on a weekly basis (plus any specific range of hours during any given day that you need, if the role is not flexi-time). Many business owners leave these details out when they outsource work, and it can severely affect your response rates.
In terms of rate, for instance, most of the best freelancers will not bother applying when pay is not specified because most of the time leaving this detail out means that the pay is low. In terms of location, you may be looking for someone who has a more neutral accent, so you need to specify this. In terms of the number of hours that you need them to work, you may attract candidates who either don’t have enough free hours or who are looking for full-time work, and this just wastes your time and theirs.
The last paragraph should contain a request for previous work samples, additional information that you would like them to send to you when responding to the opening, and how they should contact you. Note that depending on the platform you are using, this last one may not be necessary.
Rinse and Repeat
Now take the repetitive tasks and do the same. With these tasks, you will most likely have to create separate role descriptions for each. Since they are more time-consuming and more involved than simple tasks, you will not usually be able to hire just one person to do them all. Based on our examples of bookkeeping, inbox management, and social media, you can see that one person may not have experience with something like bookkeeping even if they have done inbox management, and social media posting for years.
Start with the task that will free up the most time for you. This will allow you more time to get more detailed with your descriptions and go deeper during the interview process so you are sure to hire the right fit for every role. This is vital if you want to free up your time on an ongoing basis and lower your stress levels, too.
Then you can move on to the specialized tasks that are not in your area of expertise or not tasks that you should be spending your own time on, even if you’re good at them.
(3) Interview, Hire, and Onboard
Now comes the exciting part — that is, if you took the time to write out a clear role description.
This process is the same, no matter what role you are hiring for. As you go through it for each new hire, you will get better and faster at finding the best fit.
You should have at least a few options to look over for the role. Take time to read their responses and go over their work histories. Based on that, choose the best one and contact them to set up an interview.
During the interview, start with an introduction of yourself and your business. This will lead to questions that will show you if they are a good fit for your company culture. Next, ask them questions that confirm their hard skills. Then ask them questions that will give you insight into their soft skills. These questions can also help you spot any red flags that will tell you if they have attitude or performance issues. Don’t forget to ask about their experience and availability so that you can verify if they are ready to take on the role.
If you’re not satisfied with any of the candidates, do an evaluation and see if you can improve your description to attract better applicants. Don’t settle until you have found the right fit. Taking the time to sort this out now will save you much more time and headache down the road.
Once you have found the right candidate, go through the hiring process for whatever platform you are using. Make sure that you have all your ducks in a row there before you start onboarding the new assistant. You want to make sure that you are protected and that there isn’t anything that would prevent you from starting work when you’re ready.
If you hire well, you should not have to do a lot of training. There is always some training to do, however, because every business owner and every business is different. Use this time to get better acquainted with the new hire and introduce them to anyone they will be working with.
Make sure that you set expectations very early on. Some of this should have already been made clear through the interview, but you want to provide any new hire with documents that describe in detail your company culture and performance expectations. This helps everyone to get on the same page about how work should be done to avoid any issues. It is also something that you can all refer back to in case any issues do happen to come up.
(4) Work Smarter
The outcome of this whole process of how to outsource work is that you will be working smarter, not harder. Within as little as one month of hiring for these positions, you will have gained back up to four hours a day. With all those tasks off your plate, you are now free to work on other things that will help you grow your business, as well as spend more quality time on yourself and with your family.
When you outsource work, don’t think of it as another drain on your valuable resources. Yes, it takes some time and will entail an additional ongoing expense. But this is just a small hurdle that you need to get over as a business owner so that you can see greater success. If you are stuck working in your business, you can’t be surprised if you feel like you’re drowning. If you want to climb out and sit in the sun, you need to free yourself up to start working on your business instead of being consistently bogged down in it.
Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!