You’ve realised that, as a small business owner, you really can’t do everything.
But your business is growing and you have jobs that must get done – just not necessarily by you.
It’s a good sign when you’re ready to hire help for your business.
It’s become easier than ever to find someone willing to complete your most important tasks…
…but if you’re in the early stages it can be frightening and seem ridiculously expensive to find good help.
The Internet, in its vast wisdom, has created lots of places where you can hire quality help without going broke, and I’m going to give you a list of my top favourite freelance and outsourcing sites.
I’ve searched the web and turned up several popular freelance and outsourcing websites like Elance, Evanto Market and Zirtual.
Learning how to outsource is imperative to long-term success, especially if you want to have a life outside of your business.
First, a word of warning:
When it comes to outsourcing services for your business, sometimes it’s true that you get what you pay for
In our connected world, you can almost always find someone to do it for cheaper.
That’s a fact.
But cheaper does not necessarily mean better.
I’ve talked before about how investing in your business is one of the best things you can do to help yourself succeed, and this is no different.
Sure, you could get your logo for $5 on Fiverr, but is that really the best investment you can make?
Before we dive into where to look for help, I’d like to challenge you to hire the best help you can afford.
The difference between a $5 logo and a $50 logo or a $500 logo may be the difference between looking like a professional and looking like an amateur.
For my first business, I got my logo done on 99designs, which costs more than Fiverr but is still on the cheap side.
And then I had to hire a designer to fix it up as when blown up the lines didn’t match up properly.
Not much of a saving there.
My golden rule for hiring help:
Be realistic with yourself and your budget, and then get the very best help you can afford.
Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat.
Fiverr is a community of mostly creatives who will perform services starting at $5 a job.
Just remember my rule from above and think about what $5 will actually get you.
I know people who have used Fiverr for small jobs with success, and some who have been MASSIVELY disappointed.
Read lots of reviews, be extremely clear with your instructions, and pay for extra add-ons when you want more professional work.
Odesk / Elance / Guru / Freelancer
These sites are collectively known as “talent markets” that help pair up a buyer (that’s you) who has a job to do with a provider who can do the job.
Each of these sites serves a pretty similar function, so it’s up to you which to choose.
For most, you can choose whether to pay a contractor hourly or a flat rate for the job.
They have payments through their website, which simplifies things for both you and the contractor; and most have dispute resolution in case anything goes south with the project.
For what it’s worth, Freelancer.com (an Aussie-based site) has more Australian workers and Guru.com seems to have more U.S. workers, while the others have many workers worldwide.
Envato is a family of websites that provide elements for do-it-yourselfers.
For example, when you’re looking for graphic design help, GraphicRiverr is a great place to find done-for-you templates for everything from websites to buy now buttons and business cards.
They offer code snippets, website themes, graphics bundles, audio, video and stock photos.
The catch is that you have to know what to do with them once you buy them.
If you buy a set of website buttons from GraphicRiverr, for example, you have to know Photoshop well enough to edit the buttons for your own use – or hire someone for an additional fee who does.
Great for the DIYer or to get inspiration.
A companion site with their market business, Envato Studio is the place where you can hire creatives and coders to help you with a custom project.
Many times, if you see something you like in the marketplace, you can hire the designer on the studio site.
When you need a virtual assistant, Zirtual is a good place to start because they pre-screen all of their candidates.
There are also websites that will let you hire assistants around the world (many in the Philippines) who will work for as little as a dollar an hour.
From the stories I’ve heard, some people find a real gem this way, others have a very disappointing experience.
Remember the rule, and invest in the best you can afford.
Depending on what kind of help you need, a student could be just the ticket.
A local marketing student might be able to help you write your web copy; a design student might be happy to have a professional logo in his portfolio for less than what you would pay a professional.
It’s certainly worth looking in to.
If you’re looking for a general assistant, the uni job board or placement office is probably the place to start, but for specialized work like graphic design, I would contact the head of the department and ask for recommendations.
Family and Friends
Believe it or not, hiring your mom to do data entry or your neighbour’s teenager to help with a website might be the best idea you ever had.
A friend of mine hired a woman she knew from their local mum’s group as her virtual assistant, and has been thrilled.
Just be sure to treat the relationship like any other working arrangement; get agreements in writing and make sure all parties understand exactly what’s expected.
Time Banks and Bartering
Time banks are community organizations where you can easily barter your services for someone else’s – which, of course, you can do with or without a formal “bank” in place.
I caution people against doing this too much, especially in the early stages of your business.
On the one hand, you might be able to get a higher quality service than you could otherwise afford by trading with someone, but these deals can also be very fuzzy and get out of hand quickly.
If you do go the bartering route, be sure to put everything in writing so that both parties understand what they’re giving and getting in return.
And don’t do too much bartering, or you may find you’re spending all day paying off your trades, with no time to take in paying clients!
This really only just scratches the surface, as there are dozens of websites aimed at helping you find the help you need at a price you can afford.
I believe strongly in outsourcing what you can, so that you can stay in your zone of genius, doing the work only you can do.
Just remember the golden rule of getting the best you can afford, and start delegating already.
I want to hear from you
Have you tried outsourcing any part of your business?
Hired a freelancer or a VA to help you?
How did the process go for you?
Was it easy or hard to delegate tasks?
I’d love to hear your favourite places for finding amazing talent and your hiring experiences in the comments below…