Outsourcing as a small business owner: a simple guide to help you outsource and stop being overwhelmed. So you are ready to rock world with your new business but can’t cope with the sheer amount of skills required? So what should you do? Let’s find out!
Hello, I’m your host Kaycinho, I’m a digital alchemist, and this episode is episode n°6 of a module dedicated to the preparation phase of starting your business. So if you haven’t seen the first 5 episodes, I invite you to check this playlist.
And by the way, this module is the first module of a course taking you from the burning desire to become your own boss to actually launching your business. So if you want access to the full course (videos will be added until the course is complete) by clicking here.
Outsourcing as a small business owner: freelancing case study
There a so many small businesses you could start that it’s impossible to give a one-size-fits-all blueprint. However, given the topic of this channel, I’m gonna show you how I would consider outsourcing as a small business owner running a web studio as a freelancer, and you can apply the same principles to your own business.
So let’s say you want to start a website creation business because your code is as pure as a Unicorn but unfortunately you suck at graphic design.
That may be a problem, especially if you are in a “One Person Operation” type of business, because let’s face it, most of your clients will not understand the importance of your code poetry even though people in the industry know the importance of good coding.
It may be different if your main clients are agencies or IT professionals, but if you intend to target small business owners, you would need to add a layer of sexiness to your work.
And that starts with your visual identity, so your logo, your imagery, but of course it also concerns the client-work aesthetics.
The website creation business is a business that I know well and I’ve seen that over and over: websites that were technically perfect but that look like they were from the past, and on the other way around sexy looking websites with ugly code that would give goosebumps to any respectable developer.
So the example could go both ways but for the sake of this video, I’ll keep the angle of the web developer that suck at design.
And with that example in mind, outsourcing the graphic side of the business would be the way to go.
Outsourcing as a small business owner: where to outsource?
A web developer is first and foremost, a developer. Not a designer. Sounds silly I know.
There are more and more hybrid profiles but usually when it comes to this type of industry, you are either more of a developer or more of a designer.
In agencies, people work in teams, so the final work is optimized code wise and design wise, but if you plan on freelancing, having your own team for a fraction of the cost is your best strategy.
Hiring a team when starting out is usually out of the question, so where do you outsource or find partners to build a team on a budget?
1. Outsourcing as a small business owner: Dedicated platforms.
Outsourcing as a small business owner can take place on dedicated platforms such Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, 99Designs and the list goes on. And by the way, depending on what you do, where you live, and your target market, you may yourself want to be listed on those sites.
Personally I tried some of those sites and it’s hard to draw conclusions, it’s really you and your luck. Things can be awesome or can go sideways.
But if you hire someone from these platforms, I would definitely check their credentials outside of those platforms when possible, such as on Social Media, forums and so on.
2. Outsourcing as a small business owner: online communities.
Nail down the best communities that are linked to the skill you are looking for.
For example, if I was developing WordPress websites and looking for talented web designers to develop my business, I’d do my research about the best online resources about Web Design for WordPress, like authority websites, forums and Facebook groups.
Then I’d join a few of these groups and would start making contact with the group leaders and ask them to recommend the most talented and easy going members.
I’d read the discussions, check the portfolios and basically hang around until I’d made up my mind about a few possible matches.
Then I would contact those people, and test them on small tasks. As an entrepreneur, you will need to listen to your intuition so at one point I would trust mine and continue the collaboration with the chosen ones.
3. Outsourcing as a small business owner: local business groups
Outsourcing as a small business owner can be easier by simply joining a local business group. Because when joining a local business group, you will find all kinds of skilled people you may need at one point, such as: graphic designers, printers, marketers, lawyers … you name it!
And the advantage of being in a local business group, is that those groups are usually no more than 50 professionals, so everyone knows each other, and dishonest people really take risks because if they are being dishonest or unprofessional, the whole group will know.
So, that’s a layer of security that you may not always find online, except in the case of private groups as mentioned earlier.
Outsourcing as a small business owner: which method do I recommend?
So, which method do I recommend if you’re considering outsourcing as a small business owner?
It depends on the situation. Personally I’d go with options 2 and 3 at the same time, which means I’d go for the Private communities and local business groups, but in some cases, for example if I’m in a hurry, I might go with option 1, but in that case I’d definitely check the reputation of the platform as well as the reputation of the freelancer for the job.
But whatever method you chose, the idea is the same: building a network of trusted professionals you can outsource to, and the advantage is that you only need to pay them when you’ve actually contracted a client.
So, let’s say your client signs up for a full blown e-commerce website.
Ideally, first I’d ask the client to provide the precise project and technical specifications (or if they don’t have it I could write it for them for a fee), and then I would base my quotation on this document. But practically in many cases, that would be overkill, especially for a simple e-commerce website with 10 products so this is what I’d do:
After receiving the brief, and discussing the details with my client, I’d contact graphic web designers and photographers following the methods described a moment ago, give them the brief and see who can respond in time and for a budget that would still allow me to make an interesting profit.
I’d also negotiate to be able to pay a deposit upfront and the rest maximum 5 days after my client has paid the total fee of the project.
Then if I had the choice between several partners, I would chose based on preference, and past work experience. I would then advise the unchosen ones that it wouldn’t work for this project but would thank them for taking the time to get back to me.
I’d make sure my quotation to my client is precise and carefully lists what he or she would get for the money paid (number of pages, products, and so on).
I would also make sure the estimated delivery time of the project is realistic based on my current planning and that the payment scheme is clearly laid out.
I’d get a 50% deposit from the client.
As negotiated in the previous step, I would get the remaining 50% at the latest on the day of the public release (or for larger projects you could go with 50% deposit, then another 30% upon release of the demo, and the final 20% on the day of public release).
I’d pay the deposits for the web designer and the photographer and start the project management and development of the project.
Ideally, I would have hired a project manager too, but for smaller projects, it would bump the price significantly so if you are planning to start a one-person-operation type of business, be ready to learn the basics of Project Management and do not forget to get paid for that, and what I mean by that is to assess the time devoted to Project Management and put a price tag on it.
Now obviously it shouldn’t bump the price as significantly as if you had outsourced the Project Management to another professional, but it should be taken into account because it does take time to manage a team, get people to deliver on time, make the revisions, and so on.
By the way, this post is not sponsored in any way by Trello or Notion, I just love their products.
I’d deliver the product demo and proceed to the revision.
And what I mean by revision is a session in which you would address the changes asked by the client after testing the demo.
Now in my experience, you should always precisely put the maximum time devoted to a revision in your quotation.
Because if you don’t, you might find yourself working 27 hours for free like I did, because the client was actually a company composed of a board of people with very different opinions. So I strongly advise you to precisely write:
- the maximum time devoted to a revision,
- the number of revisions included in your offer
- the nature of the revision
For example: “one revision of maximum 3 hours of minor corrections and bug fixing of the published demo only, this revision does not imply new or heavy development”.
That will help you keep the project on track timewise and budgewise, so that you still make a profit margin after paying the professionals you’re outsourcing to, while keeping your clients happy.
When conditions have been clearly defined from the beginning, usually your clients will understand the limits, and should they need more revisions, you could always quote them and charge for extra work, as long as it was clearly stated in your proposal.
Outsourcing as a small business owner: your turn
So, I hope that this episode helped you understand how to outsource based on your projects and create teams effectively. At the end of the day, it gets easier to outsource when you know the people you outsource to. And you only get to know them project after project.
I’d like to know about your experience with outsourcing, so please let me know in the comments.
If you watched the companion video and if you like it, please give it a thumbs up, as it really helps growing the channel and if you know someone that could benefit from it, I’m going to ask you if you’d like to share it now.
Because let’s face it, there are so many things to do in a day that if you don’t do it now you’ll probably forget.
Now if you want to brand, market and grow your business it in the Digital Age make sure you subscribe to my email newsletter so that you never miss your share of digital alchemy and tips, tools, services and case studies that can help you grow your business online.
So, that’s it for this video and for the “preparation phase” module, which was the second of 5 modules that take you from the burning desire to become your own boss to actually think, prepare, create, launch and finally refine and let your business take-off.
If you’ve watched all six episodes of this module, you’ve just completed the second module and in the next one we’ll tackle the creation phase of your new business life.
So I hope to see you around here or on the Youtube channel, and in the meantime, don’t forget to invest in YOUR success!