Outsourcing doesn’t have to mean shipping your customer service department or manufacturing overseas, and it isn’t something that only large businesses can afford to take advantage of. Every minute your employees spend handling mundane or repetitive tasks, and anything they do that an outside expert could be spending less time doing and getting better results, can be outsourced.
For the smallest businesses, and especially for entrepreneurs, even more tasks can be outsourced. For instance, my time is stretched to the max between appearing on as many TV networks and radio shows as I can, while also blogging, doing public speaking engagements, and traveling constantly. That leaves precious little time for me to do my “real” work—building the business and spending quality time with my family!
So, how do I recapture some of that time? I outsource my tasks. You can outsource so many things! Sick of mowing your lawn? Outsource it! Hate spending time at the laundromat? Outsource that! Maybe you’re just struggling with some business task, like proposal writing, generating website traffic, or even scheduling your own travel and meetings. All of those tasks can be easily outsourced, and today I’m going to give you some of my favorite websites and services to help you do it, so you can get some of that time back and spend it more productively doing what you’re best at.
1. Hire virtual talent
Whether you’re working alone as an entrepreneur, or part of a small team looking to grow fast, there are always tasks you wish you could do or projects you wish you could take on, but just don’t have the time to tackle. Hiring virtual talent using a site like Elance is a great way to connect with top-notch freelancing talent around the world, and you only have to pay for what you need.
Elance has hundreds of thousands of freelancers at your disposal, all ready to bid to win your project. The bulk of their freelancers fall into one of give categories: programmers, mobile developers, web designers, writers, and marketers. Whether you need an entire website or just a few changes made, and whether you need a whole new proposal written or just an existing one copy-edited, Elance will help you find some who is well reviewed, trusted, and more than capable of handling your outsourced task.
2. Make apps your travel agent
Your business may not be in a position to hire a full-time travel agent, but with smartphones and tablets becoming ubiquitous, there’s no reason not to use apps to get the same functionality at a much cheaper cost. No matter what airline, train line, or bus service you choose, pretty much every player has an app that will help you view and manage your upcoming trips.
The next level is upgrading to an all-in-one app that can actually stand-in for having an actual travel agent at your disposal. For this I’d recommend TripIt, an app for Android and iOS that scans your email for any hotel/travel/car rental reservations, and automatically builds a smart itinerary for you and notifies you immediately if there are any gate or departure time changes. If you need to alter your itinerary, you have quick access to all of the phone numbers you’ll need. Plus, if you upgrade to a TripIt Pro account (about $4 a month), you’ll get help finding alternate flights, seat alerts when you’re stuck in the middle, point tracking across all the major frequent travel programs, and the ability to automatically share your travel plans with your team or family.
3. Get all the little things done
Need a quick task performed online but don’t have much cash to spend? Enter Fiverr, a great site that hooks you up with a variety of freelancers online who can complete a variety of tasks for just five bucks. The site specializes in simpler tasks that can be easily completed, so it’s a great place to go for video testimonials about your product, help with your site’s SEO, or quick and dirty design projects like covers for your ebook or logos for a new site. Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for—while you may save some money using a Fiverr freelancer instead of hiring a more expensive one from Elance, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
4. Help with errands
One great way to get some of your time back, as well as saving yourself from a huge hassle, is to outsource errands. Anything you don’t have time for but somebody else could easily handle, including grocery shopping, lawn moving, assembling furniture, laundry, or even returning an item to a store, you can outsource and find someone reliable online. I love a site called TaskRabbit, where you post exactly what you need and then take bids from a variety of people who’d like to handle your task. You can see your freelancer’s reviews and the other tasks they’ve completed to be sure you’re getting someone safe and reliable, and all communication and payment is handled safely through the site.
A new feature that just recently launched is TaskRabbit for Business, which helps you find candidates for jobs, review resumes and cover letters, chat with candidates, and even handles all of the taxes, insurance and time sheets for your new hires. Rather than hiring a dedicated HR person, you can outsource all of your HR needs to TaskRabbit!
5. Get a personal virtual assistant
Let’s say you really need some help and are drowning in tasks that just aren’t getting done because there aren’t enough hours in the day. After all, you’re super busy and you can’t be expected to do absolutely everything, no matter how small your business. Enter GetFriday, an app that lets you hire a virtual personal assistant to help with everything the above sites and services can’t handle. For everything you’d pay a real personal assistant to do, GetFriday can get you a virtual assistant who can do it better (and probably cheaper!).
GetFriday assistants are capable of handling not just calendar management, taking care of your purchases and travel, and making phone calls on your behalf, they can even handle a variety of other secretarial and professional roles, like data entry, database management, and do your online research for you. With flexible plans to fit almost any need, and hourly rates as low as $8 an hour, getting a virtual personal assistant might just be the thing you need to really recapture your time so you can focus on the tasks that really matter to your business.
Any task, no matter how big or small, can be outsourced at the right price. And the savings you’ll get in terms of time and peace of mind often outweigh the costs. In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, anything you can do to get an edge will help your bottom line, so why not give outsourcing a shot? It could be the thing you need to get all the other tasks you’re juggling out of your head and off your plate, so you can really buckle down and focus on your business.
Do you have any outsourcing resources to share? How has outsourcing tasks helped your business?