At the beginning of the year, I set myself the goal of taking on one new challenge each month throughout the year. One of the activities on my list of new things to try for the year was to outsource work and grow my team. However, due to unforeseen circumstances relating to the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing measures, I decided to postpone this activity for now. Seeing as I can’t report on how well I got on with undertaking this task during the previous month, I’m going to share some tips and advice instead. I have, over the years, outsourced work, managed a team of people in my business and utilised tools to help with the running of my business. In this post, I will be sharing my personal experiences and advice on how and when to grow a team and outsource work.
My Experiences with Outsourcing Work and Hiring a Team
I’ve managed a small team and also outsourced individual tasks when needed. Although hiring people to work for you might sound like an excellent way to free up time, this isn’t always the case. There is a reason why big companies hire individuals to fill the position of "manager" to manage a team of employees – it’s a job in itself. Thank yourself lucky if you’re able to build a team of compatible, hard-working individuals who are a good fit with your business's ethos upon your first recruitment attempt. I have experienced both ends of the spectrum when it comes to hiring staff and outsourcing work.
When things have gone well, I’ve been able to offload tasks that I can easily delegate, safe in the knowledge that my competent team members are taking care of them, allowing me the time to get on with the jobs and projects that have to be completed by me. It also means that I’ve been able to take time off if necessary, while my business can continue to operate as normal. Unfortunately, there have been many negative aspects too, mainly when my team and I have not been a good fit. I’ve known this to happen to other entrepreneurs too when it comes to building a team. Sometimes you just hit it off straight away and you go on to form a fantastic team of like-minded individuals, whereas other times you find that you’re not compatible with your team and they’re also not compatible with each other.
But fear not, as you can control certain elements of this process in order to eliminate these issues. When faced with the opportunity to expand your team and grow your business, it’s more important than ever that you as the employer understand the key values of your brand, as well as the message you want to share. Don’t hire people just for the sake of hiring people. If you’re not careful you could easily find yourself spending all of your time watching over and tending to your employees, therefore causing yourself additional work and expense. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request work references and be incredibly thorough in your recruitment process. Once you have a great team onboard or even individual freelancers to whom you can outsource projects from time to time, you can focus on dedicating more time to doing what you do best and allowing your business to blossom.
What and When Should You Outsource?
Every business and industry is different and I couldn't possibly list all of the jobs that could be delegated. If you were the owner of an online clothing store for example, you might choose to hire a social media manager, a graphic designer, a content writer, and or virtual assistant. Only you as the owner of your business can really decide what you need help with and which roles could be outsourced. My advice would be to think carefully about how your working time is spent. Are you using your time wisely or are you getting tied up completing other tasks instead of performing your main role. At Online Personal Stylist, I work as a fashion stylist and blogger. Ideally, I should be spending as much time fulfilling these roles or completing tasks that only I as the business owner can do.
As for the matter of when you decide to start paying freelancers or employees, there are a few viable scenarios. The most logical answer would be: when you can afford to hire help. Other reasons might be because it’s an essential step in order to grow your business. And the third common reason might be because you simply want to free up time and enjoy the freedom of being your own boss. Outsourcing individual tasks and projects is an ideal way to test this business decision without committing yourself to hiring an in-house team on a full-time basis.
"The Writer Who Didn’t Write Anything"
If you find yourself increasingly busy with other activities that are related to your business but don’t allow you to move your business forward then it might be time to consider hiring additional help. To put things into perspective, imagine that you’re a writer, an author, whose main role is to write books and get them published. What if that author found themselves so busy with creating graphics and content for social media or answering generic emails? The latter are good examples of tasks that could be outsourced in order to enable the writer to spend more time performing the main action of their business - writing. How about a fashion designer who spends the majority of their time cleaning their workspace instead of designing or making any new clothes? The sensible option would be to hire a cleaning assistant so that the fashion designer could be more productive in their own role. On the other hand, you might decide to outsource all of your domestic chores so that you have more time to focus on your business. Often you’ll find that hiring assistance is a fantastic way to earn more money by allowing you more time to work on actionable money-making tasks, as opposed to other activities.
Things to Consider
As mentioned earlier, there are certainly pros and cons, as well as important factors to consider. As a blogger, I’m very much the face of my brand. Any blogger will understand just how much work is involved in this profession. However, when you breakdown the tasks that take up most of my time, you’ll see how these are not tasks that I could delegate so easily. If I were to hire somebody to manage my social media accounts and write my blog posts for me, I would save a lot of time but it could potentially damage my connection with my audience. Whereas if I was running a fashion brand and perhaps writing in third person, I could easily outsource these kinds of tasks. It really all depends on your individual business.
Finally, make sure that you have at least a basic understanding of the specialisation in which you need help. If your job vacancy doesn’t require any particular skills or formal qualifications, at least ensure that you have targets and structure for your staff members to follow. If you require the expertise of let’s say a Facebook ad specialist to help you gain more exposure and grow your following, try to learn the basics first. You don’t have to study the topic in great depth. However, knowledge is power and it will enable you to find a suitable professional to hire, as well as to recognise any mistakes they're making. This will help you to keep track of their progress and understand what needs to be completed, which will prevent you from wasting time and money on inadequate service providers looking to pray on your naivety.
Apps and Tools that I Use as a Blogger
Social Media Scheduling Tools
Scheduling tools enable you to schedule social media posts in advance. There are independent apps that allow you to schedule posts, although most social platforms allow you to schedule posts on their own sites now too.
Photo Editing Apps
Photo editing apps are brilliant for editing photos for your blog and social accounts while on the go. Photo editing apps have really improved in recent years and although they can’t be compared with the likes of Photoshop, they’re highly convenient and worthwhile for mobile users.
In my business, a large proportion of my income is made up of affiliate income and sales for my digital products. Therefore, I often make sales and earn money at all times of the day or night. Money tracking apps make it easier and convenient for me to log my earnings and expenses while I’m busy or out of the office.
Email and Social Media Apps
As an online business owner, most of my correspondence is carried out via email or through social media. Having access to my emails and social accounts through my phone has rewarded me more freedom and made life much simpler. I remember the times when mobile phones didn’t have internet access, which meant that I was always tied to my office desk, ready to respond to emails!
Google Drive, or any file sharing platform, is a great tool for storing and syncing files between accounts. I often switch between working on my laptop, tablet or phone and thanks to Google Drive, I’m able to sync files so that they’re instantly available to access on all three devices.
I hope you found this useful. Don’t forget to follow @Minnirella on Instagram to stay up-to-date with more news and happenings.