Working for yourself is great.
It’s wonderful not to have a boss and just have yourself to answer to. It also means that you need to be really organised, as you alone are responsible for your income. The buck stops with you.
It can be really tough and there are a myriad of tasks to take care of – this can be quite a shock when first starting out in the world of self employment. As someone who is self-employed, time is money.
Effective use of your time is imperative to your success.
Meeting The Challenge
I know first hand the challenges involved and what a juggling act it can be.
I also know that the best way thrive in challenging circumstances is to surround yourself with experts.
In fact, it’s the only way to thrive and grow your business.
Use people who are good at doing the tasks you can’t handle, that you don’t like or that are simply too time consuming to be taking up your precious time which is better spent on other areas of your business
By this I mean things like creating graphics, doing your bookkeeping, monitoring social media, blog posts, editing, proofreading, marketing and a raft of other tasks right through to having a virtual assistant – it really does depend what your profession is as to what those tasks might be.
Sure, you need to know what is going on and you can’t just hand stuff over willy nilly.
You need to be confident you’ve got someone decent working for you. There are plenty of sub-standard contractors out there! A glossy website and a slick sales pitch should never be what you base your decision on.
In the case of my business, I make sure everything that goes out to a client under the Dragon Sisters banner has my sign off.
But I don’t physically do all the tasks myself – I simply don’t have the time.
However, I know how to do most things, or at least have a very good idea of what is possible, but making it all happen is outsourced to those more skilled in that area. They’re faster than I can ever be, and my time is better spent creating content, consulting and providing guidance or training in the field where I am an expert.
Benefits of Outsourcing
As a business strategist, I frequently see clients who are so bogged down in the day to day running of their business that they have failed to take a helicopter perspective.
They are drowning in a deluge of the mundane. It’s like being bogged in mud, and literally dragging themselves through the mire of tasks that are choking the life out of them.
They are so overwhelmed with keeping their business operations going from day to day, that they fail to lift their heads, making it almost impossible for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Unless you are able to come up for air and take a helicopter perspective of your business, you’ll never be able to really grow your business.
You’ll just be on a treadmill going nowhere fast.
An obvious solution is to get some help: outsource!
How to successfully outsource?
Word of mouth is a great way to go. There is nothing like a personal recommendation from someone you trust.
A word of caution here, there are several business network groups where individuals recommend other members within their own group. I’ve been caught taking a recommendation without realising what was going on. It was not a brilliant experience.
So my advice now is – make sure you clarify whether they are linked via a network group, and if they are, specifically ask “has this person done work for you?”
If it’s a task that can be done remotely, platforms for freelancer services are becoming more widespread. They seem to be popping up everywhere!
Most of them do pretty much the same thing.
There are lots of benefits to freelancing and hiring a freelancer. In my book, the two biggest benefits are:
- It’s cost effective
- You gain access to a really deep pool of talented freelancers
These two benefits make good business sense, especially for solopreneurs and small-to-medium size businesses who do not often have big budgets and cash flow available.
The ever increasing number of individuals choosing to freelance means you get an excellent job done at a fraction of the cost of hiring an on-site staff member.
Being a freelancer has so many benefits including the ability to work remotely.
The challenge is how do you choose the right platform and the right freelancer?
There are lots of horror stories out there. But on the flip side, some great relationships are happening too. I’ve been in the global freelance world for 2 years now, both as a freelancer and as someone hiring services.
For the most part my experiences are positive – of course there have been a couple of demanding clients that I would rather not have had – but, hey, it keeps life interesting and there’s nothing like a challenge to keep me on top of my game.
My 5 top tips for ensuring you’re picking a great freelancer:
Make sure you’re using a respected and trusted platform – I’ll be including a section on the freelance platforms I’ve used further on in this blog.
- Check out the freelancer’s profile and pay close attention to the feedback from previous clients. It’s always best to start with a small trial project and see how well they perform. Or if you’re the freelancer, start with a small job to test if this is the right client for you.
- Be clear about your job specifications, e.g, give clear and concise instructions, be sure to explain what you expect as a finished product and your deadline. Similarly, as a freelancer, be upfront about how you work, timelines and expectations.
- If you’re using a freelancer in a third world economy, you’ll usually do better using at the higher end of the market. So if the average is $4.00 an hour, when you pay $8 – $10 an hour you’ll usually get a top class freelancer. Similarly, if you’re working with freelancers in countries with strong economies, those who charge $50 and upward are generally better performers than those at the bottom end of the scale.
- Consider conducting Skype/phone interviews, ask the right questions and you’ll get a quality freelancer for your job. The same goes for when contacting a client, speaking to them gives a much better insight about how you can expect them to treat you.
Of course, there are always exceptions to all the above.
For instance, a new freelancer to a platform will often start at a low rate simply to build a reputation. Sometimes, it’s worth having a conversation to determine if they might indeed be the golden nugget you’re seeking. Trust your instinct!
These seem to be popping up everywhere, but here’s a quick run down the platforms that I have personally used. Each has a slightly different approach, pricing plans, payment options, posting, applying to jobs, and talent sourcing.
As the name suggests, this is a marketplace for goods & services starting at $5. Fiverr is a tremendous resource for small jobs. You’ll be surprised at the variety & depth of $5-services. It’s a myriad of services ranging from blogs to graphics and everything in between!
The website has loads of loyal users, from buyers to sellers, so it’s a very healthy community.
Registration at Fiverr is free. However, you can’t do anything unless you register. Once registered, you’ll have access to an amazing micro-job market.
This is my favourite site. UpWork is very user-friendly, and posting a job is easy and free. The sheer number of freelancers offering various services, ranging from customer service reps, graphic designers, project managers and software developers right through to ghost writers and virtual assistants, can be quite daunting.
However, the rating system and feedback from other clients is extremely helpful. When hiring you’ll be presented with the highest ranking contractors for the job you’re posting.
UpWork also has its own testing system so you can check out the scores of various freelancers and offers the choice of fixed price or hourly jobs that come complete with the option of using a time tracker that takes screenshots every 10 minutes.
UpWork has an excellent system that manages all billing hours. You can check your contractor’s work via screenshots, time tracking, and real time chat – another of the reasons I love this platform!
Freelancer is based in Australia and has been around since 2004. It’s a good place to find web developers, software engineers, writers, and marketing professionals for project based work.
Freelancer’s platform is easy to use for both employers and contractors, and both are required to sign up to be able to use the services.
Fixed-price jobs are paid when the task is completed. Hourly jobs are tracked in a similar manner to Upwork.
I have not used this site myself, but I hear that it’s very good if you need a freelancer based particularly in the US.
According to Guru, they have over 1.5 million registered freelance professionals (or gurus, as they call them). You can hire technical, writing, marketing, and many more professionals.
There are no hourly tasks at Guru, only fixed-rate jobs paid in escrow, then released to the contractor upon completion of the task, eliminating a buyout option if ever the employer is not happy with the output. It is crucial then, on the part of the employer to very picky during the hiring process.
Do you outsource tasks?
I’d love to hear your feedback and your favourite platforms.
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