Outsourcing shouldn’t be the cause of headaches, stress or more work for you.
After years of delegating tasks to others and being a consultant who people outsource jobs to, I’ve learnt a few ways to make it work for me. Not against me!
You should benefit from outsourcing.
Have you reclaimed time, reduced stress and increased performance? Or have you created a bigger headache and workload for yourself?
Before you say you don’t outsource or can’t afford to, take a moment to appreciate the fact you are already doing it.
Think about all the tasks you don’t have the time, inclination or skill to do yourself and pay someone else for, such as:
- Plumbing – when the plunger, wrench and Draino aren’t strong enough, you call the professional
- Take out – when the last thing on your mind after a long day at work is cooking, your priority stop is the quick and easy Chinese place on the way home. Or even better, get them to deliver!
- Coffee – you could make your own, but the little café down the road makes the best coffee, and the muffins are heavenly
- Taxi – driving is an option, but then you couldn’t have a couple of drinks and it is FriYAY after all
- Education – your children could be home schooled…
That’s just some of the jobs you outsource in your personal life!
As a consultant and a business owner, I’ve outsourced and been the person being called into help. I understand what its like to be disappointed and frustrated as the client, but I also know what its like to be on the other side.
Has it been smooth sailing? No.
Outsourcing should save us time, stress, energy and distractions, but how many times does the expert miss deadlines or make mistakes you find yourself fixing? Or the quality is below standard or what you agreed on? Was the outcome less than you were expecting? Did the price creep up with unexplained add-ons?
I outsource my car cleaning. My nephew is my first port of call, however, sometimes my car is filthy because I’ve asked and asked and asked him to clean it. He’s 16, I would have thought earning some pocket money would be incentive enough – evidently not. The consequences are, I’ve cleaned it myself (free but to a standard I’m willing to accept). I’ve also paid a professional to do it (more expensive but it was done on time with a fantastic result).
No matter what you are outsourcing to make your life personally or professionally easier, there are simple ways to make it actually do what it promises – reduce stress, minimise time wastage, save money and avoid unpleasant surprises.
These are some of the ways I’ve found to make outsourcing work for me:
- Local or Virtual – decide on what is important to you. I like to support local when I can, knowing whom I’m working with and building a relationship with them. However, sometimes the best person for the job is on the other side of the country or the world. Technology gives us a range of platforms so we can see the person and get to know them in real time.
- Manage it – communicate your expectations upfront. If you aren’t happy, tell them. Service providers aren’t mind readers and they will appreciate your input, so don’t feel bad about asking for something, however…
- Be Polite – speak to them and treat them the way you want to be treated by your clients, customers or employer. Remember, you’re the client but being a good client is just as important in a great outsourcing relationship.
- Value your Investment – outsourcing involves action on your behalf. You need to ask for referrals, conduct research and identify your needs. Establish the price up front, assess whether you can afford it and if not, look at your options and tell them what your budget is. They might have a different package, payment plan or have someone they can refer you to. Also, pay the way you like to be paid – promptly. Nothing irritates a provider more than having to chase outstanding debts or put a job on hold while you delay paying.
- Money isn’t Everything – don’t assume money is the key factor in how well a job is completed. Identify what they need and what might help motivate them. My nephew wanted driving lessons and my car was the most appropriate for him to learn on – my car now gets cleaned regularly and for free!
As a consultant, entrepreneur and having started both my businesses from scratch, I’ve attempted most tasks required for running a business.
I believe in having a good understanding of what a task involves, the timeframes and what your pain points are.
This not only gives you an appreciation of the work and solution provided, but it also enables you to know if you are being taken advantage of.
Make sure you do your research, ask around, keep looking, build a relationship and don’t settle. It is worth the wait when you find the right person who is compatible and helps you build on your strengths.
Wishing you all the best in building your partnerships. Let me know if you need help reclaiming your precious time, reducing stress and increasing performance by outsourcing.
Rebecca Collett, Managing Director of Snowed Under Solutions
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