I have long understood on a theoretical level the value of outsourcing. Until recently, I hadn’t been able to appreciate the practical value for my business.
I didn’t want to outsource anything at the start of my business. This was mostly because I didn’t have anything to delegate, and partly because I didn’t have the money to do so.
However, as I’ve become busier, and with enquiries becoming more frequent, I saw the need a few months ago to enlist help. The reason I started outsourcing is because I wanted to put systems in place and create structures to allow my business to grow and thrive.
How I decided to Outsource
I simply got busier with bigger projects, and I no longer had the capacity to do the work I once had time to complete. I spent more and more time over weekends doing certain admin tasks and I began to feel as though I wasn’t able to cope on my own.
Despite how organised I was, and how smooth my process was, I found myself doing last-minute sharing of blog posts to social media. I hated it. I’d lose time each week doing the same repetitive tasks instead of making progress on my to-do list.
I decided to outsource because I didn’t want to do every single task involved in running a business anymore. I also have the vision of being able to create income for more than just myself, so I decided to start small.
How I decided what to outsource
I took a big-picture look at the sorts of tasks I was doing on a regular basis and wrote those out in a list. I then created a grid with 4 blocks – a matrix or framework (sounds fancier and businessy). This matrix contained 4 lenses through which to view my tasks: “I’m getting paid for this”, “I’m not getting paid for this”, “this will grow my business”, and “this won’t help my business grow”.
I categorised the tasks into the 4 blocks. Some tasks fit into more than one block, and I expected that.
There are definitely tasks I’m being paid for but that won’t help me grow my business. For the moment, I hold onto those until I get too busy for them, and then they’re going to be the tasks I outsource next.
The important blocks to look at after completing this exercise are: “I’m not getting paid for this” and “this won’t help my business grow”. If there are tasks that fit into both of these blocks, even if it’s only 3 or 4, then they need to be outsourced.
The framework helped me to think objectively about my workload, the sorts of tasks I was doing, and helped me to understand where I could potentially release control.
My outsourcing process
As with most things, this was a brainwave. I knew I wanted to outsource, but I wasn’t sure who to ask. I had stepped away from my desk to take a walk through the garden and get some fresh air, when inspiration struck and I ran inside to grab my phone. What I had to say was too difficult and tedious to type, so I sent a voice note. Basically, that voice note was a jumbled, mumbly mess, but it explained my predicament, and asked the recipient if they’d be prepared to help me.
She said yes, and it became official. I had my VA.
I enlisted the help of a friend who I met shortly before I started my business. She saw a large part of the process of how I’ve built up Fox & Owl Media to where it is now, she received weekly candid updates on how things were going, and she offered sage marriage advice. (I started my business just after I got married, and have often sacrificed quality time with my husband because I spent those hours at my desk instead. My husband is amazing and infinitely patient and understanding, but still. I didn’t want to keep putting our relationship on the back-burner. I wanted to have a bit more freedom with my time.)
Immediately, I started preparing to train my new hire.
I made a list of all the things I could outsource, and documented the processes involved in each set of tasks. I then created recordings of my computer screen, and explained my processes step by step while demonstrating how to use the software she needed to complete the tasks. My VA has permanent access to these videos so that she is able to refer to them in the future should there be any uncertainties.
How outsourcing saved my business
Simply, it’s allowed me to free up my time so that I can do more of the work I’m passionate about. Outsourcing is not only for the extremely rich or the insanely famous. It’s for smart business owners who want to make the most of the time they spend working.
If you think outsourcing is only for lazy people or those who have more money than time, you’re already in the wrong mindset.
I don’t think “I’m too famous/special/big-league to be doing this work.” Instead, I think “I need to be focusing on work that brings money into the business.”
If I’m scheduling content or adding posts to my blog, I’m not working on creating websites. Basically, if I’m spending time on certain admin tasks that I’m not being paid for, I’m losing out on doing work that I am being paid for (and, frankly, that I enjoy doing more).
It’s too expensive for me to schedule my own social media because I could be spending that time working on a website and being paid to do it. Nobody is paying me to schedule my social media content, so I’d rather pay someone else to do it.
I’m able to create much better work because I’m worried about fewer things, and I trust that the tasks I outsource are taken care of. One of the secrets of getting good work from people is to hire great people, then trust them and give them space to do the work.
I’m extremely happy that I invested in my business in this way, and if you’re interested in outsourcing some of your business tasks, get in touch with me, and I can connect you with an excellent VA.
Melissa De Klerk
Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi
Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.
You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.