November 17

Are You Being Penny Wise And Pound Foolish? -The Power of Outsourcing

A friend of mine recently had a dilemma that I’d like to share with you for its educational value.  He is not a graphic designer but he has an eye for art and has the Adobe Photoshop suite installed on his laptop. One afternoon he mentioned to me, quite frustrated, that he had spent every evening of the past week trying to come up with a design for the new logo for his copywriting business with no success. By his estimation he had spent upwards of 10 hours struggling with the design and he still did not have a logo.

Outsource -Image (1)

“Why don’t you pay someone to do it?” I asked.  It seemed obvious to me as I have no artistic bone in my body and couldn’t fathom designing my own logo.  But for my friend who had enough knowledge and design ‘know-how’ to bolster his confidence there was no other way.

As a result of this thinking, my friend had spent ten billable hours fumbling over a design. If he had outsourced  the work, what he could have achieved  in ten hours would have been worth more than it would’ve cost him to outsource the logo design.

In the end I recommended  Fiverr and two days later he had a logo.

What exactly is ‘Outsourcing’? Margaret Rouse defines Outsourcing as an arrangement in which one company provides services for another company that could also be or usually have been provided in-house.

This is a problem that many of us face as business owners. We sometimes forget that time is money. We tend to mistake a cursory knowledge of an area as sufficient knowledge to embark on a DIY project.

[Tweet “We cannot be experts at everything”].  If you’re not a writer, outsource your website copy; if you’re not a designer, outsource your logo design; if you can’t manage your schedule and take all your calls, hire a virtual assistant. What you save in time will undoubtedly result in additional income.

A good example is an events management business.  You have a wedding to arrange.  You need to sit with your client to agree the type of event they want you to deliver on their behalf. You agree a date, guest list and seating arrangement, church or registry bookings.  You fix the  food menu, book the venue, arrange for the venue to be decorated, agree seating arrangements, organise flowers. Then of course there are  the arrangement/layout, hire public address systems, screens, projectors, food, canapes, drinks…. The  list is endless.  Now as an events manager, there is a very high probability that most of the tasks you need to fulfil will have to be outsourced to third parties.

You cannot be a master of all of these areas and chances are that you will not have the expertise in house for all of the services needed to deliver a top notch event.  Hence you outsource!

Why Outsource?

  • it saves you  time  and ultimately costs  –
  • it enables you to focus on areas of your core skills
  • it allows you to share or transfer risk  – most business processes have an element of risk attached to them and when you outsource, you can transfer the risk to others.

The questions I often get asked are –

Where do I start? Or how do I go about outsourcing?

Where you start from depends on the type of the tasks you intend to outsource.  I couldn’t possibly cover every conceivable typeof task on this post.    However,  there are so many platforms for outsourcing work.  I use a number of them in my work.  These include,  but are not limited to the following:

In deciding whether to outsource, it’s best to think through the following:

  • Your project’s requirements
  • Your budget
  • Timescale

What you need to do to Outsource?

My good friend Kim George of Small Business Sense wrote a fantastic piece on Outsourcing with O’desk (Now Upwork).  The biggest take aways in that article are

  • ‘always start small’ and
  • have a detailed description of what you are looking for.

You then need to

  • decide on the best platform on which to find competent folks to do the work required – for more detailed and complex work especially those that involve web development, software integration, I suggest the likes of  Upwork and Elance (they are one and the same now) would be the go-to resource(s).  This is because you will find a very long list of competent folks with details of their track record, their core skills and charge out rates.  This enables you to narrow down candidates that match your needs. Sites like Guru and 99designs focus specifically on graphics or graphics related projects
  • once you decide on the platform you then need to choose the candidate you want to do the job for you.  Having set out what you need done, you then narrow down candidates from the different categories.
  • Now that you have your candidate, you can agree a timeframe, budget and tasks to be done and you’re on your way.

[Tweet “The beauty of outsourcing is, it frees you to do that which you do best –  running your business”].

Happy outsourcing!

Question: Do you know of any other way that outsourcing can benefit business that I haven’t mentioned?  Please share your thoughts by leaving your comments below or on my facebook page.  I very much look forward to hearing from you


business development, Business growth, Delegation, Elance, event management, Fiverr, Graphic Designer, Guru, HR, Human Resources, Outsourcing, people, Projects, Recruitment, Upwork, virtual assistant, Web Designers

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