Outsourcing For Small Business – Part 1

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I decided that it would be helpful if I wrote some stuff about outsourcing. It’s a question I get asked often enough so I’ve decided to write a series about it.

First things first: I’m not an expert on outsourcing.

I have done quite a bit of it, and I’m learning more, but I’m not the “expert” in this field.

Almost all outsourcing talk you hear about is for big companies who hire 300 people in India. That info pertains (and is helpful) to about .0001% of the workforce. Worthless to people like me (or you who are reading my blog). If you’re looking to outsource 300 employees, go talk to an expert.

Second: I will write about online business. I hope that what I write here will be helpful to all the people who work for themselves, running small businesses, online. After all, that’s what I do. I run businesses online.

In writing about this, I’m going to cover what I know about

  • automation
  • hiring workers overseas (how, when, why, what for)
  • hiring people for one-off projects
  • outsourcing programming
  • outsourcing graphics work
  • outsourcing SEO
  • outsourcing content generation
  • outsourcing your email
  • outsourcing support
  • outsourcing to a partner

Automation

1. If you haven’t read The 4-Hour Workweek you really need to read it. It explains the reason why I automate stuff. I don’t do it just so I can get more done (that’s part of the reason). I do it so I can spend more time with my family. You need to figure out why you’re outsourcing/automating stuff or else you’ll always just fill in the time you save with other stuff, and you’ll never feel like you got anywhere.

2. Sometimes things are better automated by a human than by a computer. Not all automation has to be done by a computer. Computers aren’t very good yet at understanding language and creating content. They’re also not very good at joining the right affiliate programs, or at managing an adwords account.

Things that can’t be automated well by a computer should be automated by a human. And, as Ferris says, there’s a whole anxious, educated, well mannered workforce overseas willing to do what people in the USA aren’t willing to do….and they’re good at it.

The goal of automation is to free you up to do what is most important. Note that I didn’t say that you should be doing what you’re best at. I’m best at programming but I rarely do it anymore. Marketing is much more important and I’m reasonably good at it. So, I automate/outsource programming and I work on marketing.

If you haven’t yet started automating, you should start by making a list of things you do that could possibly be automated either by software or by a human. Things like checking on your adwords account, doing research, buying flowers for your wife, wading through email, creating web content, blogging, programming, suport, reporting, etc. Make a list of things. You’ll be surprised at how long the list gets if you force yourself to think about what you do.

After you’ve made the list, you’re ready to start doing things to automate/outsource your work. Until you’ve made that list, it’s hard to justify the expense of hiring someone else and sometimes it’s hard to see where exactly you need help.

My point with this was just for you to realize that automation can be done by a human, and needs to be done for you to live life, not for you to work harder elsewhere (at least…that’s what I believe).

Next time I’ll talk about hiring people overseas…because that’s really what you want me to talk about.

[tags]outsourcing, automation, web outsourcing[/tags]

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