I was extremely skeptical when a friend of mine started outsourcing a significant portion of his business overseas. He's self-employed and when his workload became too much for him to handle, he hired writers and assistants from the Philippines. Hiring three outsourced employees allowed him to triple his business in a matter of months. That's pretty impressive.
But let's get this out of the way before we move any further. There is a serious debate about hiring overseas employees to work for American businesses. I don't want to minimize the seriousness of these issues or the realities facing our workforce. Yet, we live in a virtual, globalized world and anyone with an internet connection can become an online freelancer.
As long as a freelancer can do the work, does it really matter where they are located?
Ultimately, it will be up to each of us to choose where outsourced workers are located. You have to make the best choices for your personal ethics and what's best for your business. But if you're ready, here're a few thoughts to help you get started:
Research Your Options
Online freelancing is a huge field and includes writers, editors, graphic designers, webmasters, social media consultants, marketing and sales professionals and so much more. Virtual assistants to help manage your day to day operations. Or accountants, attorneys, financial advisors, and bookkeepers to help run the financial side of your business.
One top of all that, you can also choose part-time, full-time, onshore, or offshore. You can hire someone for a one-time project, or make them part of your team. A study shows by 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be considered independent workers (contractors, temporary workers, freelancers, etc.).
You have a ton of options. Before you make any decisions, do some research into the type of outsourcing that would be best for your unique business and situation.
Hire Someone With Your Values
If you're ready to hire an outsourced employee as part of your team, it's important not to settle for anything less than you would for a real employee. Sandra Lewis, founder of Worldwide101, says "Regardless of where you hire your virtual assistant, she or he should have the same values, qualities, and skills as your ideal in-house candidate. There's no need to compromise."
Share your business's mission, goals and your personal expectations. Hire someone that compliments your skillset and is dedicated to helping your business grow. You can always try a trial period to see if it's a good fit or not. It may take some time, but you'll be able to find the ideal candidate if you choose someone you matches your business values.
Choose the Right Technology for Your Leadership Style
I'm constantly amazed at how fast technology has changed how we work. There are so many amazing apps and platforms that allow teams to work together from anywhere in the world. Skype, Slack, Wrike, and even Facebook allows teams to communicate and manage projects, and more platforms are coming online every month.
But technology is only a tool that you can use to manage your team. How you use the technology is as important as the technology itself. If you're comfortable with a mostly hands-off approach, you can easily communicate using a system like Trello. If you're more comfortable seeing the person while talking, try a video chat service. Remember, you're the boss. So choose the technological system that best supports your specific management and leadership style.
Taking the Leap into Outsourcing
You can't do it all. Even though you've tried, you are only one person. And there's a million things to do when you're trying to build a business.
Outsourcing is a great way to build any microbusiness and you have lots of options to choose from. As more and more workers to independent professions over corporate positions, we're going to see new and innovative small business frameworks. Like my friend, maybe you'll build your business using creative and competent freelancers living halfway around the world. Or maybe you'll stick with locally outsourced professionals.
The bottom line is it's up to you. We live in a new world and you get to choose your own pathway to business success.