What should you outsource first?

Outsourcing for a small business means paying someone else to work in your business on a freelance basis rather than as employee. Being able to offload a stack of work to someone else sounds very tempting, but where on earth do you start?

The first tasks to outsource are the ones you simply can’t do yourself, either because you don’t have the skills or qualifications or because it would be a risk to  your business if you tried. Good examples include:

– Web design – if you’re a complete technophobe

– Graphic design – it’s OK, most of us struggle to make graphics look good!

– Accountancy – let’s be honest, this subject takes at least three years of full-time study and it changes constantly. And that’s just the start, there are also many specialisms, such as forensic accountancy! (You can find out more about that at Frenkels Forensics if you’re curious…)

– Legal – would you know where to start when drawing up a contract? Nope, neither would I.

Once you’ve worked out all the tasks you simply can’t do your self,  list all the tasks that you hate or aren’t very good at. These are the tasks that someone else can do far better than you and in a fraction of the time, too! Bookkeeping is high up on many people’s lists and you may be surprised how little it costs to outsource if you find a bookkeeper  who specialises in working with small businesses.

There are plenty of mums with valuable skills who would love to help you out part-time with admin, graphic design, running a PR campaign and many more tasks. If they work from home their overheads are low and they could well do the job for less than you could. That frees up your time to do what you are really are good at, plus growing your business to the next level. You could also free up a few hours by asking a local teenager to help out with post office runs and baby-sitting, or you could get a cleaner.

The internet has made outsourcing easier than ever before. Many home-based freelancers can be found on Twitter, so it’s easy to ask around for recommendations. You can also post jobs on sites like Elance.com and PeoplePerHour.com. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully and look at the freelancer’s track record before you hire them, though. I’ve had some success with Fiverr.com,  a site where people will do work for you for just five dollars (about £3.50). I really recommend giving that a go if you want to get started in outsourcing because it’s so cheap and easy to use.

Ultimately, you should aim to outsource as many tasks as you possibly can. That will free you up to work on growing your business, rather than working within it.

(Note: remember when hiring freelancers to stay on the right side of the HM Revenue and Customs’ rules around self-employment see www.hmrc.gov.uk/employment-status/index.htm for more)

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Consideration was received for the writing and editing of this post.

6 Replies to “What should you outsource first?”

  1. I used to think I should do everything I possibly could myself seeing as I invested in the full-fat version of Photoshop a few years ago (but have only learned to use around 5% of its features)
    Recently someone introduced me to Fiverr and I haven’t looked back.
    Now if I hit a snag with anything that takes longer than 15 minutes to solve, it gets sent to someone who knows what they’re doing!

  2. I can really relate to the ‘well, I’ve spent good money on this so I’m going to use it’ thing! But you’re absolutely right, your own time is more valuable than what you’ve spend on software. I love the 15 minute rule, it’s a great way to measure whether it’s worth doing something yourself or not. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love outsourcing (proud ‘owner’ of a social media bod and 2 VAs for starters). If you don’t where to start, my suggestion is to approach people you get a good feeling about and ask if there are ok going with the flow of the process of you learning how to outsource. In the case of VAs at least, I didn’t know what to outsource or how to do it. I found 2 lovely VAs who are happy with my ‘working it out as I go along’ approach and the amount of time and kind of work varies a lot.

    1. Great advice, thanks for that. It’s tempting to to plan out everything to the last detail before you look for a VA, so it’s great to read your experience of going with the flow.

      1. That’s what I tried to do, then realised I had no idea how it was going to work. Instead I found 2 VAs to ‘partner’ with me on my journey to learning how to delegate and let tasks go to someone who can do a good job.

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