Can you outsource during a crisis?

by Jennifer Chamberlin

May 2020

bw-with-a-client-edit-1.0-7.jpg

With the current global health and financial crisis, many businesses are struggling and wondering how to survive. Cutting costs is a major priority and outsourcing work can be a smart move. Let’s take a look at why outsourcing is such a great idea.

1. Cost-saving

Using freelancers and outsourcing some of your business requirements can help to reduce overheads, as they usually work remotely and you only pay for work produced. It can often be more costly to pay your staff, or to take the time to complete such work yourself, especially when it’s outside of your normal skillset.

2. Increased Flexibility

Business agility can be crucial in the current climate, but adapting to change takes time and money. By outsourcing to an outside business or using a freelancer already skilled in the required areas, your business can be more flexible, giving you a competitive edge.

3. Keeping it Fresh

Now is the time to consider different ways of working and fresh new ideas to help you stand out from the crowd. A stagnant business that’s unable or unwilling to evolve is more likely to fail. By bringing in the right outside help you’ll ensure you stay ahead of the game and keep your business not only alive, but thriving.

4. Better Workflow

It’s usual to experience fluctuations in work volume, now probably more than ever. A freelance service enables you to scale up or down accordingly, without needing to continually hire and fire staff. If you’re a solopreneur, you can often find yourself requiring backup. Using a freelance professional is an excellent way to maintain and expand your workflow without becoming overburdened.

What You Should Consider When Outsourcing

Some things require careful consideration when outsourcing. It can be very tempting to look to the services of websites such as Freelancer, Upwork or Fiverr, where you’ll find freelancers from around the world offering the lowest prices possible. Although they can be great for one-off tasks requiring no transfer of personal or sensitive data, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows… These sites are often the wrong choice for finding genuinely competent contractors. Some of the workers are doubtlessly good at what they do, but generally true professionals don’t need to use sites like this to find clients, instead, they’ve worked hard to establish their position in the marketplace and will provide you with consistently high quality, value for money services, backed by a guarantee.

More than Just Price

Now more than ever, good businesses need your support. Creating a bidding war for your freelance job on Fiverr might seem like a great way to get your job done as cheaply as possible, but ask yourself this: is someone who’s prepared to work for such a low rate genuinely going to provide you with the best possible service? Or, is it more likely you’ll need to get the job done again by a real professional, costing you more money in the end? Remember, the saying is true; you only get what you pay for. For a professional job, you need to hire a true professional to do it. Although it might seem expensive, in reality, you’ll get far better value for money. There may be hundreds of freelancers offering to do the job for less, but will they add the same value that a more experienced person can? Are you ready to take that risk?

So how do you weather the crisis?

It’s never a good idea to cut your nose off to spite your face. If you need to reduce costs due to the current situation then pick up the phone and talk to your existing service providers. There may be a way to reduce the tasks you delegate to them, or the number of hours of work they do for you, rather than cancelling the contracts completely. They’ll be glad to keep your business and you can pick things up again when the pressure’s off and the economies are getting back on their feet. You’ll also have grown the trust and loyalty between you.

Time zone, language and location

Time zone, language and location are also factors to consider. The idea of someone working while you’re asleep might sound great, but it can make arranging times to connect more complicated. If you’re working in more than one language, how can you ensure that you can clearly understand and communicate well with the people you’re hiring? Some people choose to only work with their local community, and indeed it’s vital for some jobs, but the beauty of our online, hyperconnected world is that I can be based in Europe and have clients from all four corners of the world - it’s an amazing opportunity to be truly international!

Meeting

To get a real feel about any freelancer you’re considering, set up a meeting, either via a video chat service such as Zoom, or better still, face-to-face where possible. This way, you can ask direct questions and get a real feel for the person. You should quickly be able to tell if you want to work with them or not.

Proof of Work

Any potential freelancer will happily show you examples of their work and provide you with references. They may also have testimonials on their website or social media profiles. If they are unable to do so, you should question their ability to complete the job required.

Insurance

Check that the freelancer is insured. Ask for a copy of their insurance and make sure it provides adequate cover for your needs.

Data protection

In the UK, many freelancers register with the ICO and can share a proof of their registration with you. This shows that they take their GDPR obligations seriously. In other EU countries the rules also apply but not all of them require such registration. If the freelancer you’re talking to rolls their eyes when you mention GDPR, or doesn’t know what it means, it’s an opportunity to educate them, or run a mile!

Start Small

It’s unfair to ask a freelancer to do speculative unpaid work to see if they are up to the job. Instead, give them a small project to begin with and if you’re happy with the results, move on to bigger things.

Finding a Freelance Professional

The best ways of finding the right help for you include:

  • Asking around, the best recommendations will come from word of mouth, giving you that all important know, like and trust factor;
  • Looking at who you already know or who you’re already connected to on social media;
  • Looking at LinkedIn for professionals working in the field you require;
  • Search the pages of Facebook or join Facebook groups specific to the type of freelancer you need;
  • Depending on the type of work you require, you can try looking at other social media sites for people who might be a good fit.

 

Hiring the professional services of a reputable freelancer can be a smart move. But don’t be blinded by cost alone. Your business has a reputation to uphold and ideally you want to find the person who will take care of your business as if it were their own. Producing inferior quality work is a sure way to get your good name blown and find yourself out of business, especially in the current economic climate. Instead, concentrate on what’s important and find the right person for the job. Start small, develop your relationship and grow together. Enjoy the journey!!!