Outsourcing online has many benefits for entrepreneurs, SMBs and startups. Scarcity of time, know-how and money are the main driving factors behind outsourcing. However, it is not all bloomy, outsourcing does introduce a whole new set of challenges that need to be met. In this post I will discuss some of Dos and Donts of outsourcing, apart from shedding light on the Why, when and how to get help
Outsourcing online : The Why !
The reasons are countless, it might be anything from being short on cash, time, know-how and other resources. Outsourcing does provide an easy way of into tapping into a pool of unlimited human resources. You could get anything outsourced online from writing articles, web design to having a virtual assistant. The main benefits are listed below
- You save a lot of money , you do not pay for training, accommodation , offices, transport or anything else. All you have to do is set a fixed project price or hourly rate and you will have a clear overview of what it is going to cost you.
- Entrepreneurs can easily to test out new ideas at low cost.
- SMBs can reduce running costs by outsourcing general tasks that require man power but are not critical to the main operation of the business, an example would be proof reading.
- The amount of talent found in online sites and the categories are so vast that I doubt you wont find somebody to do the job for you. For an overview of main categories at Freelancer.com can be seen in my Freelancer.com Review.
Outsourcing online : The When !
Now that you know why you should outsource, it is a great time to discuss what and when “and more importantly when not” to outsource. The freelance market is full of bright, talented and honest people. But similar to anything else online and offline, crooks are mingling in the freelance talent pool as well. Therefore, please pay attention to the following guidelines :
- SMBs should only outsource non-critical tasks, do not rely on an outside entity for a business-critical task otherwise you might get stranded with your freelancer no where to find. Under certain circumstances, it is still fine to have a freelancer as a backup for your main resource.
- SMBs should not outsource tasks where sensitive information is at stake. This one seems to be obvious, however I can not count the many times a company came to me to check their database servers, do security check or do some coding on a server and then gave me full access. I was never asked to sign an NDA or any other document asking me to maintain the confidentiality of what I might or might not see while performing the task at hand. Given that I do have 100s of reviews on most major freelance sites, that I am a CISSP and bound by a very strict code of ethics, and that I an honest guy, this was never a problem for the SMBs. However, you have to protect your information for both legal and business related reasons. Please do note, that you could actually have the freelancers sign a NDA before bidding while creating a project at Freelancer.com .
- Entrepreneurs and Startups will have a strong urge to post their new ideas on freelance sites so they can have them created. Keep in mind that should not never post a full description of the idea if it is a new thing , nor should they tell the freelancer what the whole project is about. If at all possible divide the project into several parts and assign each part to a different freelancer. The main reason being, as a Startup doing outsourcing, you are missing the know-how, all you have is the idea, if you loose the idea to someone with enough expertise knows how to bring it alive you are doomed from day one. One other reason is that Google will index the jobs on freelance sites, and your competitors will know what your new project is. Please note that you can actually create a private project at Freelancer.com which does not get indexed by Google.
Outsourcing online : The How !
The how is going to be covered over a few articles, as a lot of information can be discussed about each stage of the outsourcing project. See the articles below :
Outsourcing online : The risks, problems and the pitfalls !
Outsourcing online is a great way to get work done at a lower price with the same level of quality. However, there are pitfalls that you should be aware of :
- Forget about contracts. Unless both the employer and the freelancer are both in the EU or the US, contracts mean nothing. Your only way around this is the get the contract notarised at the embassy of your country at the freelancers residence location.
- Long term commitments, I only know a few online freelancers who do it full time. So do not count on long term commitments unless you do have such an agreement with the freelancer. Freelancers have families, more than one client a full time job, so they might not be available when you need them to.
- Protect your know-how and ideas. Do NOT get too close to a person half a way across the globe with your next big idea or confidential data, unless you have a binding notarised document.
- Cultural differences, your freelance is probably going to be somebody from a different cultural background, make sure to consider that when communicating with the freelancer. Make sure to communicate and ask for updates on a regular basis .
- Timezones, if you choose a freelancer make sure you choose one from a timezone that suits you. While the freelancer might be willing to accommodate for a 12 hr time difference, you might not be willing or able to do so. More than 8 hours of time difference normally mean that the work done at one day gets reviewed by you the next day, this slows down the pace quite a bit.
Outsourcing online : It still rocks 🙂
I might have gotten you a bit worried with the pitfalls and risks, normally outsourcing online is a smooth operation if you prepare your post properly, and choose the freelancer wisely. You can meet a lot of interesting people from different cultural backgrounds, and you might even make a friend or two across the globe, who would be tucking their kids to bed when you are having your morning coffee. I did state the pitfalls and emphasised the other risks because I have experienced a lot of stuff both good and bad during my 8 years as a freelancer. In this post, my goal was to warn you about the bad and to let you discover the good on your own.
I am an active freelancer at Freelancer.com. Check it out.