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How to outsource effectively (especially for control freaks)

by Alison Bradford

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This follows on from the post on ‘Why and what to outsource’.

You may have reached the point now in your business where you accept that you need to outsource, and you’ve even got an idea on what to outsource.

But something’s holding you back.

What if you can’t find someone who can do it as well as you, or to the standards you want?

What if it ends up taking more of your time to sort this out than do it yourself?

What if the person you outsource to let’s you down?

Relax – you just need to learn to let go a little and remember the reasons why you need to do it.

Do you think you could maybe be a teensy bit of a control freak? After all, most entrepreneurs are.

That’s okay – let me give you 4 steps to make outsourcing a little easier, even for control freaks!

Step 1 – Create a process or project brief

Once you’ve decided what to outsource then document the process for the task to be outsourced, or document a clear project brief for a larger, one off project.

Please don’t make the mistake of having a quick chat to agree something verbally and then letting someone run with it.

You owe it to your business and to the person you are outsourcing to, to clearly document exactly what you are expecting them to do.

Step 2 – Find the right person

Once you’ve documented what you need doing, it’s easier to find someone to match up with the skills you need.

Asking for recommendations at networking groups or from other business owners is always a great place to start.

Try putting a call out on social media, on your Facebook or Twitter account.

You can also try sites that specialise in providing outsource expertise such as elance.com or peopleperhour.com.

It’s always a safer option to go with a recommendation but it depends on the level of expertise you’re looking for and the budget you have.

You can even get quite a few small jobs outsourced at a very low cost on Fiverr.com, where everything is just $5.

Just remember that you usually get what you pay for!

Step 3 – Have a clear agreement in place

As well as detailing the work you need them to do, you should also set out a clear agreement to cover other expectations.

For example, costing’s agreed and payment terms, a communication plan setting out how and when you will communicate going forward, what to do if either of you is unhappy with the work, what tools you will use to share documents etc.

Spending a little time upfront to consider all aspects of working together and setting out your expectations will definitely make the whole process run smoother.

I’m not talking about getting a legal document drafted here – just formally setting out expectations in a format you can both review and accept.

(By the way, I use and recommend Echo Sign for ease of signing and storing agreements electronically)

Step 4 – Train & feedback

Once you’ve got the right person on board and an agreement in place, then you will need to train them sufficiently to undertake your requirements.

Depending on the task, this may be minimal and simply a case of ensuring they understand your project brief or process.

If it’s someone who is likely to be helping in your business on-going, such as a virtual assistant, then you may need to spend a little more time training them up.

Feedback is also essential – if something is bothering you let them know. Likewise, if they’ve done a great job, let them know.

If it’s a larger or on-going piece of work, then schedule feedback in regularly, don’t wait until the end of the job.

Ask them for feedback too – how was the project brief? Could you have improved your communication in some way?

That’s my 4 simple steps to outsourcing effectively. I hope it’s helped you and please leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts and how you get on. I’d love to hear your own experiences and if you have anything more to add to my 4 steps.

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

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