I'm sorry I had to give myself such label, I have to mentally sink into my mind that "I am an entrepreneur" and no longer just aspiring.
I'm an entrepreneur ~ Sean Parker (The Social Network)
So I work with talented individuals but being a very talented programmer myself, I know that if I'm not managed well then I will change employers. The first outsourcing engagement I had was to outsource the design of my blogs (including this one). And my kick 4$$ designer could do a hundred times better than I ever could in 20 years (BTW, if you need web design work just contact me).
Outsourcing work isn't an easy task. There are certain barriers that needs to be dealt with and if you ignore them, your outsourcing project will most likely fail. Below I identify some of these problems.
You are geographically separated - If you're geographically co located then it's easier to just draw or show a picture of what you want the other person to do or understand. This is not the case with outsourcing especially if you only communicate over the Internet. Things such as bad Internet connection, or simply the availability of the Internet of phone could quickly become a problem.
Relationship is hard to establish - Words over the Internet can be easily misinterpreted especially if you haven't seen how someone reacts in person. I don't see all the people I work with in person, but I sure somehow prefer to see their picture to get an idea of how they are as a person.
You don't have a legal binding - They are freelancers and they are freelancers for a reason... They don't want a boss. You don't have a contract or legal binding which makes your transaction somehow only based on full trust. Sure, you can have e-mails to keep and probably some logs on your paypal account but I'm not sure if this would be enough to sue another person if he doesn't match up to the expectation or just decide to quit without returning your money.
You could be time constrained - Different timezones or different work shifts. I remember at one point, I used to do web design for a president of a company but my main source of income required me to work on a graveyard shift. When he's awake during the morning, he would try to send me text messages or try to call me but I was asleep the whole day. Eventually, we just decided that we go our separate ways. Be sure to work with people who could spend enough time on your project.
So having experienced these outsourcing challenges, I'm here to give you some tips to help you in your future outsourcing endeavor.
Utilizing People For What They Do Best - People are meant to be good at what they love to do, says Keanu Reeves in his movie "Sweet November" (such a cheezy movie). I can understand this very much as I prefer to do the work I love over something I don't. If I'm given a job that I don't like, I'd usually take... well... forever to finish it. Unless of course I'm into some tight deadline and they say that cramming is the most productive time. But seriously, are we not most effective when we're doing a job we really like? For those who take on outsourced work, be honest and clear whether you want to do the job or not so you could both save time.
Trust and Trust Sincerely - Trust comes from knowing and not from blind fate (I forgot where I read that, E-Myth I think) and according to Stephen Covey, trust is the highest form of human motivation. I've seen the work of these people and I know what they can do which is why I really trust and believe that they will do the work I ask of them.
Pay Generously - By paying generously I don't mean overpaying. But there's this thing that we used to see in grocery stores... "Credit is good but they need cash". It's ok to ask to bargain for price, but don't make it look like you're being cheap or you just want the labor done for free. If you pay generously, people would open themselves up to you more and it's their prerogative whether to give you some free or extra out of your original deal.
Communication is important - Try to communicate as much as you can and use all resources available to you like e-mail, phone, skype, facebook, etc. Not only that this improves your relationship with the person you outsource your work to, this also shows that you're serious about the work you asked them to do. Because if you're not serious, the other person will not take it seriously.
Ask favor, don't command - I don't like being pushed around and neither would you or them. So I always try to make it as a favor to ask them what I need. I never want them to feel that I'm their boss, though I'm the client and I pay for their labor. Friendship and closeness is important, even at work.
Outsource the fun stuff - The common mistake in the outsourcing industry is people outsource work they don't like to do. This is wrong, you outsource work because you don't have time to do them, not because you don't want to do them. The motivation may be different, but it would fall into the same piece of !@#, that you don't want to do what you would like them to do. They will know, trust me. So only outsource work you don't have time to do but you don't have time to do. You may be outsourcing to save cost, but that's not an excuse to give other people the work you don't like to do.
Set deadlines - Time is gold and it's important that you and the people you outsource to understand that deliverables must be delivered in a timely manner and in the time that "you both agreed" with.
Know the craft - Know a little about what the people you are outsourcing to is doing so you will have a clear picture and understand why something might be taking longer than expected.
So far, these people I've worked with are also readers of this blog. Thank you very much for your effort to make my Internet businesses become successful, whether they are or not.
Outsourcing if done right can give a lot of advantage to you or your business. It saves you time in exchange for some amount of money. You can then use this time to work "on your business" and not "in your business". It also provides opportunity for other people to earn some money and for others, this could be their main source of income.
Do you outsource work or receive outsourced work to or from other people? Share your experience!
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com