Guest Blog: Dos and Don’ts of Outsourcing from an Ecommerce Professional
My name is Nathan Hirsch. I have been in E-commerce for 6+ years and my entire approach to business changed when a friend of mine introduced me to remote workers. Through a lot of trial and error I have become an expert in hiring quality workers from around the world.
I have spent the last 8 months working on my second company, FreeeUp.com, with the goal of helping everyone tap into the great advantage of online workers. Everyday I hear horror stories of clients hiring remote workers that don’t work out. They are wasting time and money and doing the same things over and over.
First Things First…
- Know what tasks you want to outsource
- Know what your budget is
- Know how you want to go about finding the workers.
Do you want to interview lots of workers and pick the best one yourself using a service like Upwork? Or do you want to work with a company that handles the interviewing for you?
There are pros and cons to both. Doing it yourself will take more time and there is always a risk of making a bad hire. However, if you do find a good worker, they will usually be cheaper. Using an agency like FreeeUp will be faster, the worker will already be vetted, and you will get more security. However, FreeeUp is not the Walmart of workers. You will pay the market rate for the worker’s skill set.
Regardless of which avenue you choose, it’s important to follow some key pieces of advice when hiring remote workers for your business.
Dos and Don’ts of Outsourcing
Do: Spend your time wisely.
Ever heard of the phrase, “hire slowly, fire quickly?” One of the biggest mistake business owners make is not valuing their time correctly.
As a small business owner, no one is going to expand your business besides you. For me, every second I spend should either be an investment or an expansion. If I am training a new worker, that is an investment because I am going to free my time up in the future. If I am spending my time re-training a worker or fixing workers mistakes, my time is better spent finding a replacement.
Don’t: Waste time trying to get a bad worker to become better.
There is someone out there that is what you are looking for. If a worker is showing up late, missing shifts, or making mistakes after intense training, cut them loose. Your time is too valuable to spend chasing a worker down to get what you want.
Goals and Expectations
Do: Be clear with your goals and expectations.
Whenever you hire a new employee, you must lay out the rules and expectations as soon as possible. Spending time up front can save you a lot of time down the line.
The first thing you want to do is give someone the job overview. Tell them about your company, what you do and what the big roles are in the company. The more they know about the company, the better. It’s up to you to decide what is necessary to share. Having some information pre-written about the company is always a good idea.
It’s important to outline the goals of the task or job. This allows the worker to narrow down on what the overall goal is and not just the basic task. You can share the short and long term goals so the worker knows how important working hard is to achieve these goals.
Remember that many workers have worked for different clients. Everyone has different expectations so you should try to share yours as clearly as possible.
Do you care about being on time? Is the work flexible? How do you want to be communicated to? What happens if the worker can’t work a certain day? What are the big dos and don’ts for the job? All of these are important for the worker to know before he gets started.
Be sure to communicate how many hours per week the worker is expected to work. Try to be as exact as possible. Is there a limit? Fixed schedule? What are the worker’s off days? What is your schedule like so the worker knows when to contact you? Always ask the worker if they have any scheduling questions or comments before moving on.
The Job Instructions and Training
Make sure the worker has access to all of the passwords, documents, training materials, videos and other information they need to be successful. This will put them in position to not bother you later to get access to an email account or a forgotten password.
Don’t: Expect that the worker knows everything at the get go.
Just because someone is an expert doesn’t mean he knows how you want it done. Remember that every client has different expectations for their workers. Make sure your expectations are clear from the beginning. Don’t assume they know everything about your company.
Protect Your Business
Hire different workers for different tasks. As a startup, it makes sense to divide your workers even if that means hiring three part time workers instead of one full time.
It doesn’t make sense to teach one person to run your accounting, fill your orders and handle your customer care. It should be three different people so that each one can grow that part of your business, create training guides, and not set you back if they decide to leave. It is a lot easier to replace one customer care person who gets another job then three departments in your company. Assume each department will grow and be too much work for one person anyway.
Don’t: Rely on one great worker.
Lots of companies fall into the trap of hiring one assistant and teaching them to do everything. They find a good assistant who is easy to train and they just keep teaching them everything.
This happens with new businesses all the time and it’s a poor cycle to fall into. It frees up the business owner’s time for period of time then all of a sudden the employee has to leave. They have a baby, decide to seek work elsewhere, or quit to start their own business.
This can set back a company for months as they struggle to catch up and re-train a new employee.
Do: Create training guides.
Even if a task is as simple as possible or too difficult to put into words, it’s essential to create training guides. Employees should know that if they are building a process, training guides need to be made and they need to be updated. This makes hiring new employees and replacing employees easier. Most importantly, it protects your business and your time as the owner. Your goal is to have your entire business structured into training guides so that new employees or employees from within can learn them with ease. Videos are the best.
Don’t: Give the worker nothing to reference back to.
The worst way to train virtual assistants is to have voice calls. Give them something to reference back to so that they don’t have to ask you questions over and over. Good virtual assistants will re-read training materials and double-check their work before asking you a question. If they don’t have something to reference back to, mistakes will be made and your time will become in higher demand.
Do: Hire people that have a reason to work.
It is always smart to hire workers who are depending on the paycheck you are providing to them. Here are a few descriptors of the type of people you want to hire:
- They want as many hours as they can get
- They are passionate about the company and want to see it succeed
- They know how to balance their time between work and other classes, clubs, and outside activities that they have in their life.
- They want to learn more about the company and grow within their team
Don’t: Hire workers with too much going on outside of work.
It’s important that you are hiring people who have enough time for your business. As an owner, you want your business to be their top priority. Don’t hire people who have too much going on that they are apt to miss deadlines and forget about shifts. Find someone else if you continue to hear from a worker that they don’t have enough time for a particular task.
Outsourcing Isn’t Easy, but It Can Be Done Right
I’m not here to tell you that all of your business dreams can come true and you can get rich overnight by starting to hire online workers for your business. However, I am here to tell you that if you approach outsourcing with the right mindset and work hard to make it a real aspect of your business, you will see success.
The advice that I’ve provided stems from my 5+ years of experience hiring, training, and firing online workers for my online businesses. While I have gone through many hardships with online workers to get to where I am today, the pros have greatly outweighed the cons.
If you take my advice seriously and create a strategy to incorporate online workers into your company, you have a great chance of being happy with your outsourcing experience.