Outsourcing jobs is a controversial subject. On the one hand, if you’re a bootstrapped startup, money is tight and outsourcing can be a great way to keep your budget in check. On the other side, the job is more likely to be below par, not to mention some people get touchy when you take potential jobs away from Americans.
However you feel on the matter, outsourcing can be a great way to score a competitive advantage and optimize efficiency. But, there are a few rules you should follow if you’re thinking about sending your startup tasks to cheap labor in foreign lands.
Rule #1- Make sure you’re outsourcing the right things
Some tasks make sense to outsource; others, like those that require experience, creativity and client relations should really be kept in-house. Optimal outsourcing tasks include:
- Social media marketing, SEO ink building
- Data entry
- Software development
- Graphic design
Rule #2- Screen Your Staff’s Resourcefulness
This is a general rule for startups when it comes to staffing – outsourcing or not. Your team is your startup’s heartbeat, they should be chosen carefully.
One excellent way of vetting your potential staff overseas is by giving them a challenging task on day one (such as creating content on WordPress). Staff overseas will likely have little knowledge about this, but if they are resourceful (a-hem, Google), they will figure it out by the end of the day, and may be great workers.
Rule #3- English is actually important
Hiring people solely based on technical skills, and NOT on their English proficiency is a huge mistake. This is going to cause a lot of grief in the future with communication, company representation, and tasks poorly performed. When hiring, have a chat and look out for grammar and general use of the language. This will save you time and effort in the long run.
Rule #4- Management is key
Yes, it’s difficult to properly manage a team overseas, but it’s essential for the smooth running of your business. There are several ways you can make remote management easier:
- If it’s in your budget, set up an office and hire someone to manage your staff.
- If not, have staff send daily work reports so you can monitor their progress.
- Dropbox and Google docs are great ways to consolidate and visualize your staff’s work.
Rule #5- Keep your staff engaged/rewarded
As an entrepreneur, breaking apart and handing over the responsibilities of your baby startup is scary. But, your staff needs to feel like the work is meaningful, that they are learning, and that their role in the business is clearly defined.
Also, make sure you reward good work. Raises, even little extra monthly bonuses of $50 on paychecks, will be highly appreciated, as well as promotions and more responsibilities.
Happy, connected, appreciated staff = loyalty and hard work = startup success!
So, now that you’ve read the rulebook, hopefully you’re ready to tackle the exotic world of startup outsourcing. Go team!