First off I’d like to thank Alex and all of you for the open arms introduction. It’s great to be back, even so I was hoping to sneak in the back door and quietly doing my thing. 🙂 Oh well, such is the life of a popular copywriter, lol (now I feel like celebrity).
Kidding aside, it’s really nice and refreshing to wear my blogging “shoes” once again since it’s been a while for me.
But before I bore you to death with my story, I’d like to touch on a subject that is probably near and dear to many self-employed entrepreneurs – namely outsourcing, and the pros and cons of doing so.
The two-sided coin
To outsource or not to outsource is a question you will probably ask yourself at some stage in your business life. If you haven’t already done so that is. Most of us find it very hard to let go of some aspects of business and put them into the hands of a stranger. I can’t blame you for feeling that way if you do.
I felt the same way when I first got my head around the concept of outsourcing. I had arrived at a crucial business road junction; it was either mental and physical burnout (again); or trusting some aspects of my business into the hands of other writers and expanding my business, despite all the risks.
I choose option number two and I tell you why in a minute…
When first considering outsourcing, most people think about letting go of control and how this can affect the quality of work. It’s the classic example of thinking that the “other” person can’t do as good a job. I also call it the perfectionist’s syndrome and used to suffer from it myself. So we tend to freak out, thinking there is no way we can afford to lower out standards to work with others while being paid a fraction of the profits. But this isn’t so. Who says your standards have to lower? After all, you will still be the one in the driving seat.
No machine is perfect, not even humans
If you are good at something, it is hard to let go of the reigns and give another person control. Fact is, that despite the quality of work you might provide, you can only manage what is physically possible within any given day.
- If you are sick, nothing gets done
- If you are on vacations, nothing gets done
- If you are burned out, guess what? Nothing gets done…
Therefore at some point in time you will have to face the simple truth; to outsource and grow, or to keep on pushing your limits. The truth of the matter is, outsourcing is the ONLY way to grow your business to the next level. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to read the book: “The e-Myth Revisited” by Michael E.Gerber. This book is a true eye-opener.
Unless you can increase your income with the help of software and machines you will always depend on the input of manpower. Since you can only physically work so many hours a day you are severely limited by time and your own inability to duplicate your efforts, unless you hire others to do it for you.
Cons of outsourcing
On the downside it will take a lot of your time to train your team to do what you want them to do. The more time you are prepared to invest into the training and setting up of systems that can be semi-automated, the easier this whole outsourcing thing will become over time.
Be prepared to spend some of your valuable time answering team questions. I strongly advise you to document them for template creation so that you don’t have to do the same things twice. The next time one of your team members asks you the same question again you simply hand them a template. Problem fixed. Time saved.
The hardest part will be to let go of some aspects of your business. You have to learn to trust others to do as good a job as you – if not better, and that’s perfectly fine. At this stage I’m not ready to give up the managerial control of my business, but this could possibly change in the future – especially if I want to live the 4-hour work week.
Outsourcing equals profits
What many entrepreneurs fail to see is the fact that outsourcing will increase your profits, provided you keep a portion of the income for yourself. It is a conscious decision to re-invest your income into your business for future growth, and if you do it right, you will earn money while you sleep.
How much money should you keep?
This is a good question. From personal experience there is no right or wrong in the amount of money you should pay your outsourced team for the work they do as long as they are paid fairly, and according to their experience/abilities.
My advice is to aim for at least 30% profits. This means if the client pays you $100 for project you should be paid $30 minimum. This is your payment for the time you spent marketing your business, branding, communicating and advertising. In short, this is your income for lead generation.
The best way to get a feel for the right profit margins is to just do it. With time you will get a feeling for the market and be able to gauge the pay vs profit split instantly.
Where to outsource?
One of the biggest questions people have in relation to outsourcing is where to find good people. My answer is, it depends on your niche. As a copywriter I have certain standards to uphold, and therefore all of the writers on my team are English-speaking natives. In this line of business it’s a matter of quality control. I have to be 100% certain my writers can handle content creation using proper grammar and spelling.
For web design work and my own niche sites I employ two staff from the Philippines who are both awesome and hardworking. I found them on www.onlinejobs.ph (just in case you wonder).
Training, training, training
Proper training can be the make or break of your outsourcing experience. You can take a relative newcomer and turn him/her into a pro in next to no time with good training. I use templates for just about everything. I have also recently started to record my own videos. It’s fun. The great part about this is that you only have to do this once if you keep the training generic (not person specific).
I could write a book about outsourcing and how it’s changed my life for the better, seriously. In the end you have to make the decision for yourself.
Please share your outsourcing experiences and questions below in the comment section. I look forward to hear from you.