Did you know that outsourcing can save you time and money – even if you’re a small home based company? When people think of outsourcing, they often think of huge corporations hiring people in developing countries. In reality, a lot of outsourcing is done by very small companies, by people just like you.
Outsourcing can make all the menial tasks go away. You can outsource a lot of your smaller tasks both in person and online.
For example, let’s say that every week you need to scan forums for potential clients. You look through various forums looking for people who’re asking questions. You answer those questions and offer your services. The whole process takes about 5 or 6 hours.
Of those 5 or 6 hours, only 1 hour is actually spent on responding to questions. The rest is spent on locating questions, browsing through the junk and finding people who are actually in your target market.
Those 4 or 5 hours of time are important to your business, but can easily be outsourced. You can have someone else do this task, freeing you up to do more important things in your business.
To begin with, come up with a value number for your time. For example, your billable hours might be worth $100 an hour. Of course, you have to put in a lot of work to earn a billable hour. You decide that your time is actually worth about $50 an hour.
So any time you can save yourself an hour of time for less than $30 or $40 an hour, you’re profitable. This is the magic number you use to decide whether or not to outsource something.
Now make a list of all the things you might want to outsource. Include everything from business tasks to personal tasks, like laundry and cooking.
One you have your list of tasks you want to outsource and you know your budget per hour limit, it’s time to find outsourcers.
For digital tasks, head over the oDesk.com or Elance.com and create a job describing the tasks that you want completed. If you have a lot of different tasks that you want one assistant to do, use an hourly rate. If it’s a per-project payment, then pay by the gig instead.
For in-person tasks, use tools like Zaarly or Craigslist to locate people who’re willing to do it. In first world countries, you can generally expect to pay between $10 and $25 an hour for a personal assistant or menial tasks.
This will help get you started on the path to outsourcing. In time, you’ll want to outsource virtually all the non-essential tasks in your business. This will allow you to free up a lot of time and attention so you can focus your energy on actually growing your business.
Many home business owners and solo entrepreneurs face a credibility challenge. When potential clients come to their website and see that it’s “just them,” they often end up leaving. People often prefer working with a large company rather than a solo entrepreneur, because they see large companies as more credible and more likely to deliver.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in staff to make it seem like you’re a large credible company. These tactics below can help you seem like you’re a big company, even if you’re flying solo.
Personally, as co-owner of Red Peach Designs, I prefer to keep our small company feel as that is what often appeals to potential clients who are often in the same boat. I also have the luxury of doing this, however, because our business is established. For those businesses starting out, the tips below are definitely helpful!
You can pay as little as $30 a month for a professional call answering service. The way it works is quite simple.
The number you list on your website actually goes to your call answering service. When someone calls that number, they hear a professional secretary answer the phone. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, your “secretary” might answer:
“Thank you for calling Your Business, how may I direct your call?”
No matter what they say, the call gets routed to you. This creates the impression that you have a giant office and a large staff, when in reality you’re working out of your home paying $30 a month to have someone answer your phones.
It makes a big impact.
Another option is using Google Voice, which is FREE. You can record a professional message for users to hear when they call, and calls are routed to your number. You can choose to answer the calls or send them to voicemail.
Don’t have one email address be the catch-all address for everything in your site. Instead, use a different email for different things.
For example, on your contact page you can put:
For media inquiries, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For sales, contact: email@example.com
For reprints, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For all other inquiries, contact: email@example.com
This creates the sense that you have a large team. Again, you can man all these email accounts yourself.
There’s a very specific way to design websites and marketing materials to give off a “big brand” feel.
Your designs should make good use of white space. Colors should complement one another. The logo should be clearly and prominently displayed. It should look clean, simple and authoritative.
Avoid designing your own website at all costs, especially if you’re going for a big brand look.
James Caan is the founder of Humana, currently #79 on the Fortune 500 list. Though today he’s a millionaire many times over, the beginnings of his story are much more humble.
He started by renting out a broom closet in an office. He named his company Alexander Mann to sound like it was founded by someone big and successful. There was nobody named Alexander Mann.
He created multiple names for himself and almost a virtual “office.” As a one man team, he created the impression that he had a huge workforce with which to service clients.
Many of today’s success stories started out like this. It’s okay to be small, but in many industries it’s important to look big. Use these techniques to help you create that brand image to help you move beyond the founding stages.