As many of you know the last few months I’ve been slaving away at my outsourcing based start up Virtual Zeta & Virtual Assistant Board. While today I’m unveiling one of them, I’m also going to take the time to explain to you 7 of the ways you can use outsourcing and virtual workers to make your life easier, your business more productive and competitive in your niche. As an added bonus/incentive, if you sign up (free, no strings) for Virtual Assistant Board and post a job you’ll be entered to win my (almost new) HD Flip Cam! I just upgraded and thought it’d be fun to give away a prize like the Flip (I think I paid $250+ for it) that’ll help you grow your brand and integrate videos into your project. All the info for the give away is at the end of the post.
The Beauty of Outsourcing
When people think of outsourcing images of call centers in Mumbai come to mind, but in reality outsourcing is far more than that. That’s why I call outsourced freelancers not virtual assistants but virtual workers since they can do a myriad of tasks remotely. I have used virtual workers to do everything from web design, to voice overs, to project management and even marketing. The analogy I like to use is thinking of virtual workers as a part of your business team who can do just about anything, except bring you a cup of coffee.
The reason I heart outsourcing so much is three fold…
1. First off it’s cheaper than hiring a in-office or in-country worker, sometimes by a little, sometimes by 90%. One reason it’s cheaper is that you’re hiring a freelancer who isn’t subject to all the necessities one needs when hiring a regular employee – i.e. overhead, benefits or providing them with equipment. Also currency conversion often works on the outsourcers favor, so what is a nice hourly wage in the Philippines is still really cheap in America.
2. Secondly it forces me to delegate. I have two virtual workers as part of my team right now, one does web design and the other is my project manager/partner in Virtual Zeta & Virtual Assistant Board. They both come in at 9am their time which is 6pm PST. This means that all day in my time zone I have by myself, so when a task arises that I want to get done I can’t just pick up the phone & waste 30 minutes yapping. Instead I’m forced to think coherently, to write out what I want done in the simplest terms possible and to be specific. I can’t just say “change the website so it looks better” – and then spend 2 months tweaking until the designers version of ‘looks better’ and mine align. Instead I would assign something like:
Jill please go to Escapingthe9to5.com and change the email opt in box design to one I created on Balsamiq (a wire framing software I highly suggest everyone own), I want the color palette to be this link from colourlovers.com and I want the font to be example font from Dafont.com
This way there are no discrepancies, I maybe go through 2 more design tweaks vs. the typical 15-30 in a regular business. Also being forced to delegate all the tasks I can’t/don’t want to do has made me focus a lot more on the few things in my business I’m excellent at. It not only gives me the time but it gives me the focus to get ‘er done so to speak.
3. Outsourcing allows me to move far faster than my competition, to be a mobile entrepreneur, to save tons of money on a traditional ‘office’ and to rapidly execute on ideas without the lag time of typical business bureaucracy. I move faster and can execute ideas in a few days because all I have to do to get more team members for a specific project is to go to an outsourcing job board and post up a project.
Secondly my outsourced workers don’t have any distractions, they aren’t in a traditional office chit chatting and swapping weekend plans over the water cooler – instead they have X hours to work for me for X dollars and get their jobs done efficiently. I’m a mobile entrepreneur because I have no traditional ‘office’ to tie me down, instead I have a P.O. Box (for my mail and any other “address needed” requirements) and I have a Macbook that I souped up to be my office in a bag. I travel everywhere with my mobile office which includes a Swiss laptop bag, my Mac, some chargers, a moleskin notebook and whatever I’m currently reading. Total this probably weighs 10-15 pounds… and that is my office, completely.
7 Ways to Outsource & Win
- Outsource expensive design projects, instead of hiring a traditional design “firm” outsource it. Post a project for a website or logo and see who replies, check their work and make sure they’re the right fit and then go for it. You’ll probably pay 10-20% of what you would at a design firm and the virtual worker will be far more flexible and will execute faster.
- Outsource the stuff you hate to do. Do you hate writing content? Do you despise social media marketing but you feel it’s necessary? Outsource it. Why spend 2-6 hours a day on the stuff you don’t rock at? Instead spend that time doing what you love & are great at and outsource the rest. You’ll probably make more, save time that you could be growing your business and pay FAR less than the value your losing every time you spend 2 hours spell checking your blog.
- Get organized via a virtual worker. I hired on my project manager who is based in the Philippines because I wasn’t keeping my business organized – I had several social media clients but wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted because I couldn’t keep up with all the minutia. Noel came in and did all that for me, he even broke up big projects and assigned it to my other virtual workers – just like a traditional ‘manager’ but at a fraction of the cost and I think FAR more effectively since he wasn’t “in office” where he’d surely have been distracted.
- Get global by leveraging the beauty of the global economy we exist in. My eyes have been opened to different cultures, different perspectives and great new ways of doing things from working with people from all over the world. Each country has a different style of doing things and you’ll learn a ton from working with a diverse group of virtual workers. I believe it’s helped lay the foundation for the empire I plan to build that will be very global, realizing that there is a world of business outside of my own geographical location has helped me grow as an entrepreneur & person.
- Outsource your inbox. Lately there has been a movement of cutting down on the amount of time entrepreneurs and bloggers spend on their inbox. I’ll be the first to admit I had a terrible time wasting my day away just checking email but when I finally got control of it my productivity & profitability skyrocketed. Hire a virtual worker for an hour a day just to go through your email, organize the important stuff into folders and present it to you. You may spend a day or two teaching them ‘the ropes’ but think of all the time you’ll save when it takes you 15 minutes a day to deal with your inbox vs. 2 hours!
- Outsource your next million dollar idea. Think of all the times you have an idea, do nothing about it because you don’t really know where to start or how to execute and later on you see someone else who had your same idea and made the next big thing online? It’s happened to me more than once and every time I’d kick myself. Instead post a project and include ALL the pertinent details of your idea without including the ‘secret sauce’ – this way you’ll find an outsourced worker (say a programmer) who not only now understands your project but can take it from A to Z. The biggest reason people don’t act on their ideas is because they don’t know ‘how’ so why not just go for it and let someone else figure out all the specifics – they’ll use their expertise so you can stick to yours.
- Outsource your team. I believe in the beauty of taking on full time outsourced workers since then they learn your business in and out and will be able to grow as you grow. These people are still ‘technically’ freelancers – though check your countries rules & regulations – but they dedicate X amount of hours to your company a week and you can provide them with ‘benefits’ like vacation days or bonuses. This is the focus behind Virtual Zeta, where we find high quality virtual workers for full or part time, longer term gigs for a set price. This includes testing them, interviewing them and guaranteeing them – this way we do all the leg work and you end up with a virtual worker that’s to die for.
Start Outsourcing Now + Enter to Win!
I hope I’ve gotten you jazzed about outsourcing, it’s my life’s blood & I believe that it can change the course of your life through aiding your business. Outsourcing allowed me to start up when I had zero capital and no idea how to manage in the technical world of the internet. Without it I couldn’t have started my blog, my social media & website design company, my podcast and especially I couldn’t have began an outsourcing start up!
So if you want to enter to win my barely used Flip Cam HD 120 (it’s an awesome little bugger) just go to Virtual Assistant Board, sign up as an employer & then in the comments or in an email – marenkate(at)gmail.com – send me your username & I’ll do a drawing via video a week from now to let you know who won!
P.S. If you post a project and have ANY questions, comments or opinions on VAB please feel free to let me know through the contact page on the site or through this blog! I appreciate all forms of feedback!