The ambitious entrepreneur’s guide to employee outsourcing
Our outsourcing guide has everything you need to know including where to find freelancers and problems to avoid.
Do you ever get that feeling of always starting lots of different things and projects and never being fully able to complete them the way you want?
Or that pang of stress-meets-urgency to revamp your website and curate your social media channels when your bread and butter is, in fact, sales and not web design or marketing?
It’s OK — we get you. As a small or medium business owner, that’s life: constantly juggling endless balls, wearing multiple hats, and trying not to break the bank.
But you know what?
There is a much better, much smarter way to handle things.
The secret? Employee outsourcing.
Hiring freelancers and experts in different fields can provide your company with invaluable help, freeing you to focus on the things you do best. Sound interesting?
Find out all you need to know about employee outsourcing in our comprehensive guide below.
What is outsourcing exactly?
Let’s first clarify what employee outsourcing means. Employee outsourcing involves hiring talented, freelance employees outside of your own company.
You might need to do this because you are working on a particular project requiring specific knowledge or expertise. Or, you might be on the hunt for someone to partner with on an ongoing basis and who can offer their skills to support a specific part of your business.
We all know outsourcing is a great way to cut costs, but it’s important to remember that it’s much more than that. It’s a tool that allows you to dramatically boost certain aspects of your business operations while letting you focus on activities that drive business growth.
Employee outsourcing is a widespread practice across many small and medium companies. A study conducted by Statista in 2019 revealed that the outsourcing market was worth over $92 billion.
The pandemic is forcing many businesses to adhere to their limited budgets more strictly. And more professionals are now drawn to flexible, remote, and freelance work. It’s safe to say that outsourcing talent is still a popular trend.
Is there a “good” time to outsource?
So, let’s assume that you have figured out that outsourcing might be a cost-efficient and effective way to get rid of all those mid-morning headaches and sleepless nights. After all, as great as you are at your job, you are only human! There’s only so much that you can handle by yourself. Moreover, it’s important to realize that most of us are only really good at a few things. Getting help with the tasks you struggle with will help you move your business along.
When do you know if you are ready to go ahead and start hiring freelancers?
You can take one of two approaches: a reactive approach or a proactive one.
The reactive approach
If you choose the reactive approach, then the chances are that you are already feeling quite overwhelmed by the mountain of tasks and the endless to-do lists that await you at your desk every morning. In this case, you need to ask yourself a few crucial questions:
- Am I struggling to complete this task because it’s not part of my competencies and skills?
- Can any of my employees handle this task in the way I want/need them to?
- Does it make sense to hire a permanent employee only to handle a temporary or seasonal project or task?
- Would it be more expensive to hire someone new to the job and train them, or outsource the task to someone who has plenty of skills and experience in handling exactly that job?
If your answers point to outsourcing employees as a cheaper, more effective, and more successful way of handling specific jobs, then the time is right: you can start looking for your freelancers right now.
Sometimes, though, it’s much better to be proactive.
The proactive approach
Being proactive means having realistic expectations for yourself and your employees and deciding right from the get-go to outsource specific tasks to specialized external professionals.
For example, let’s imagine that you are the owner of a minor, plant-based food brand and currently only employ two people—an accountant and a marketer. You already know that none of you could handle areas like IT, web design, social media, and more.
Choosing a proactive approach, in this case, would work so much better than stretching your team thin and overburdening yourself with work that you are simply not skilled in. Outsourcing employees can help you gain that competitive edge and cost-efficiency that you need for your business to thrive.
What types of work can you outsource?
You can outsource pretty much anything these days. Regardless of what industry you operate in and what professional figure you are looking for, there is a solid chance that you will be able to outsource for that exact position.
These are the most common roles you can outsource to freelancers (and quickly wipe off your to-do list):
- Content writers and creators
- Web designers and developers
- IT experts
- Graphic designers
- Social media experts and managers
- SEO experts
- Virtual assistants and customer service experts
Employee outsourcing: why it’s a no-brainer
Let’s now take a closer look at some of the most impressive benefits you can reap by outsourcing your employees.
When you hire an external freelancer, expert, or consultant, you will only pay them for the work they do. Only need help with something for one day a week? That’s what you will pay them for—no more, no less.
No tax-related woes
Freelancers, vendors, and contractors won’t be on your payroll, which removes a great deal of admin for you. Furthermore, they also handle their own taxes, which means that you won’t find yourself burdened with tax-related tasks every month.
Remote, flexible, global talent
Working with freelancers and external consultants opens your business up to the possibility of engaging with exceptional global talent. Hiring someone from another country is simply impossible when you hire someone to work in-house because they need to be physically present every day. And hiring from around the world might allow you to hire talent at lower rates than in your home country.
Expert, unbiased, external perspective
Gaining a fresh perspective is an often overlooked aspect of employee outsourcing.
Generally speaking, external consultants aren’t attached to or invested in your business as much as you or your in-house employees are. That’s not a bad thing! It enables them to provide you with a fresh, insightful perspective.
And businesses often benefit from gaining a new understanding of how your operations work and how you can improve them.
The ABCs of outsourcing
Now that you know when you should outsource, what professionals you can outsource, and why you should outsource, let’s take a closer look at how to outsource — and how to do it successfully.
First of all, where do you find great, expert, and reliable freelancers? Depending on the specific position you are looking to fill, you might need to browse a few different online platforms and resources. Some of the best ones are:
We compare the most popular sites, in our guide to freelance talent websites here.
Similarly, good, old word-of-mouth can be a great way to find extraordinary freelance talent that’s just right for you.
Once you’ve brought in some great talent that fits your needs, it’s essential to have a clear plan about approaching and managing things going forward.
Here is a handy checklist for you:
- Decide how to communicate with your freelancers. Pick a specific platform (email, Slack, Zoom, etc.), a day of the week/month, and what topics you will need to discuss.
- Schedule regular reviews and evaluations of your freelancers’ performance. These can be done easily via a video conferencing platform, via email, or on the phone.
- If any performance issues arise, make it very clear to your freelancer that there will be consequences. You can, for example, be very strict with deadlines and inform them that after a set amount of missed deadlines, you will temporarily suspend their account or place them under probation.
- Similarly, if a freelancer is consistently doing a great job, make sure to let them know—a simple message or phone call will do.
- Choose a good software tool, like Basecamp, Notion, or Asana, to help you and your freelancers with project management. These tools allow everyone within your outsourced team to communicate easily, organize tasks and goals, and share files. Keeping everything in one place can also help new freelancers get the lay of the land.
Making employee outsourcing just another part of your business
Once you start working with multiple freelancers, you’ll likely encounter one of the major side effects of outsourced work: the dreaded scope creep.
How scope creep happens.
You start out asking someone to create two marketing emails, but at some point, you realize you actually need four or five.
Or a new freelancer you hired surprises you and proves to be an absolute gem. You end up asking them to do more work.
In both cases, the freelancer ends up doing more work than you initially anticipated. But you’re busy running your business, and even though they have your permission to increase their billable hours/days, you might not remember that come billing time.
So what happens next? You receive an invoice for their work and are unpleasantly surprised that the amount is much higher than you expected. Now, imagine this happening with three out of the five freelancers you hired that month. That adds up quickly!
This example might sound a bit extreme, but it’s actually very typical. As a result, you end up owing hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than you initially anticipated. And this can happen month, after month. See the problem?
How we can help
That’s where GigRally comes in. Our founder experienced the same issue while running his own eCommerce business. After five years of frustration and many moments of financial distress, worrying about having enough cash on hand to pay invoices on time, he decided that enough was enough.
He hired a team of software engineers (all freelancers, of course) and built an app that allowed him and his freelancers to keep track of their financial obligations.
After seeing success with this internal tool, he enhanced it and opened it up to other entrepreneurs and business owners.
Want to learn more about how you can run your outsourced team more efficiently? Go check out GigRally here.