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Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Outsourcing

It’s common to think of a business coach as someone who has all the answers and knows just what to do. Often, it’s because of all the mistakes we’ve already made.

Hi, I’m Tricia. I coach recruiters and here’s where that amazing wisdom and guidance comes from.

You may have heard, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” Outsourcing was all the evidence I needed. I made a MASSIVE number of mistakes and wasted a TON of money learning how to effectively outsource.

Thankfully, I stuck with it and reap the benefits to this day. Now, I outsource activities in all my businesses, from coaching and training, to recruiting, and even real estate.

Here are 10 things I wish I knew 10 years ago. I hope it can save you the pain I experienced in learning.
  1. Know your hourly rate. You need to know your worth, to know when to offload the work. Take the revenue you generated this year and divide it by 2080 to determine the actual value of your time. Try to spend most of your time on the highest value activities that only you can do. Outsource the rest. If you generated 300K, your bill rate is approximately $150 per hour. It would make a lot of sense to hire someone, even at $100 per hour, if it frees up your time to generate more revenue. It always makes sense when you’re going to spend the time in revenue-generating activity and may make sense to simply give yourself a break.
  2. Know the best use of your time. Throughout your workday, consistently ask yourself, is there any way I could outsource this task and what would I need to do to make that happen? Start a list now that you can keep adding to whenever you think of something. Here’s a great hint: compare your hourly rate from above to whatever task and decide which is more valuable.
  3. Don’t forget to outsource reminders. If you had an Executive Assistant, you’d expect that person to give you reminders and glance over all administrative details. The same should go for a Virtual Assistant. We coach one-on-one and each of our clients has their own “Academy” where their training and session recordings are loaded each week. My VA checks each client’s Academy every Thursday afternoon and lets me know if I missed any uploads. A great assistant, Virtual or not, should be able to manage you a little. 
  4. Communication is key. The maximum efficacy your VA can achieve will be by following your exact directions. And that’s only if they are really committed hard workers! Break down the steps and details as if someone who has never done the job and lives thousands of miles away will have to figure it out from what you write. Then clarify as though English isn’t their first language. Be more specific than you ever think is required. All expectations need to be in writing. Over articulate. 
  5. Make videos. When you give work assignments, record yourself doing the exact task first. We typically use screen capture software for this. Verbally walk them through what to do, step by step. Take special note of the time it takes to do an individual task and then multiply the time by the number of instances, increase it by 20% and then ask for a time commitment. For example, I might have my VA capture a list of prospective clients, find their email and phone number, and then add all data to a spreadsheet or load directly into my system. I would do one of them start to finish, noting the time at 3 minutes each. Let’s say I gave them 100 people, I would assume 300 minutes, but I increase it by 20% to 360 minutes and then ask for a commitment for the project to be done in 6 hours. Time expectations must come with task assignments, or your hourly rate just became whatever they want it to be.
  6. Don’t skip the videos. It makes all the difference in the world when you must replace your VA (I’ve had over 15 in the last decade, and my current one for 2.5 years. He’s excellent.) They’ll need to be replaced; people marry, move on, take other jobs, or… disappoint you. If you have all the videos it makes training the next person significantly easier. I’ve even seen my VAs go back and re-watch videos which cuts down on both errors and my time to re-explain something. For another trick, load the videos to YouTube and they can turn on subtitles. This will cut back on communication errors, particularly with offshore VAs.
  7. Build an Ops Manual. From day one, they’re writing the book. Make one of their responsibilities to keep and maintain an operation manual for their role. Set it as your own Google Doc, and give them access. Require them to add specific instructions for anything they’re doing which isn’t covered in the videos you make. Also have them include links to the videos and any additional notes or instructions for the task. Check this weekly. This will also make transitioning much easier later. 
  8. Give them a background project. Virtual Assistants must always have a “background” project. It’s something they can work on between the important things you give them. Think of it this way, at some point your VA will be needing something to do at the exact moment when you don’t have time to manage them. For me, it’s currently data integrity. If my VA doesn’t have work, he systematically checks and verifies my data. 
  9. Time tracking. At the start of each workday, have them send you an email stating they are starting work and what they’ll be working on. At the end of the day have them send you an email letting you know they are signing out for the day and what they’ve accomplished. Having this as a standard from the start will save you a huge amount of heartache. It’s nearly impossible to add later yet gives so much peace of mind used from the beginning.
  10. Kindness and inclusion. Treat them extraordinarily well. Pay more than average. Surprise them with vacation days. Give them a random bonus for work done well. But most importantly, when you know you have someone good, share your vision for the business. Pose problems and ask for their opinion. Not only does that make them feel good, but you might be surprised to find you learn new and interesting ways to solve problems and move your business forward. 
If you’re still on the fence about outsourcing, remember the first rule! The time you spend on non-profit generating activity is literally unpaid. If you’re ready to jump in, I’ve marked many of the potential pitfalls. Smart people learn from their mistakes. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others. It’s why I became a coach.

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Tricia Tamkin, headhunter, advisor, coach, and gladiator. Tricia has spoken at over 50 recruiting events, been quoted in multiple national publications, and her name is often dropped in groups as the solution to any recruiters’ challenges. She brings over 30 years of deep recruiting experience and offers counsel in a way which is perspective changing and entertaining.

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