Micro-Entrepreneurship For Dummies
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Hiring outsourced workers for your micro-entrepreneurial business is very simple to do, but you need to outsource the right way to prevent problems. Outsourcing your work, if done right, is one way in which you can increase your profitability while also reducing your own personal workload.

Establish clear goals, milestones, and requirements for outsourcing

Too many projects run over budget or the allotted time or deadline. To avoid overages, make sure you do the following:

  • Define clear objectives for the work to be done from the start. Don’t leave anything to guesswork.

  • Be accurate and provide complete information. Make sure you give clear steps from start to finish for the project.

  • Have potential workers ask you questions about the work requirements both before the work starts and in the initial phase of work. If they don’t have any questions, ask them questions about their approach to work to get a better understanding of their knowledge and experience.

  • Where possible, provide milestones. Milestones are definable points where work is progressing, such as 25 percent finished by a certain date, 50 percent completion by a subsequent date, and so on, until the project or task is 100 percent complete.

    For example, if the worker is writing a detailed, 50-page report, tell her that you want to see the work after 10 pages, at 20 pages, and so on, until you’re confident that she is performing as you want.

Focus on qualified workers when outsourcing

The levels of expertise and experience among workers can vary tremendously. Hence, you need to figure out what specific work you need to have done and limit your search to only those individuals that have a track record in that type of work. Furthermore, make sure you ask for credentials and references to support what the candidate is stating about his expertise.

If, for example, you need an advanced shopping cart system set up, ask to see what shopping carts he has completed with links to operational websites with the shopping carts. In this case, don’t look for “ecommerce experience”. Instead, look for “ecommerce experience and specialization in advanced shopping cart system set-up and maintenance” with work samples and references.

The more specific skills you look for, the better off you will be. Hiring someone who is more qualified may cost you a little more than a generalist, but in the end, doing so will be worth it. Over the long run, you’ll also save on hassles and money. Choosing a worker solely because the quote was the lowest can be an expensive mistake.

Review portfolios and samples of an outsourced worker

Previous work can be a great indication of the skills that workers possesses and the quality of the work they’re capable of performing.

Particularly if what you need for the workers to do isn’t within your expertise, such as something technical, and you’re still unsure about whom you should hire, send the potential applicants an email detailing some of the problems you’re looking to address by hiring them. Their responses to the issue can give you a feel for their knowledge on the subject as well as professionalism.

Don’t give outsourced workers critical projects related to your business’s success until you get a sense of how they perform. As they become more familiar with your business needs, and your confidence and familiarity with them increases, you can increase their workload.

Agree to payment before you hire an outsourced worker

When working with outsourced workers, you usually have two options on how to pay them:

  • Hourly: You pay by the total hours they need to finish the job. If you contracted with this outsourced worker through freelance sites such as Elance or oDesk, you’ll have access to “screen shot function” so you can actually see the screens of the workers for the hours you’re paying for.

    A screen shot function means they can send you an image of their work to show you a visual point of progress.

  • Fixed: A set price for the specific task or project. You can pay a lump sum after the project is completed or you can set up project milestones where the worker will be paid after a specific milestone is completed.

The choice is yours. Using the hourly payment structure for less complicated projects, such as menial or administrative tasks, is typically better. However, for more complicated projects with set milestones and that require certain skills, such as AutoCAD or programming, a fixed payment is better, because these projects can have setbacks and quickly go over budget if you pay hourly.

Use an agency to hire outsourced workers

Whether you’re using outsource workers from across the street or across the globe, you should go through an agency, such as Elance or similar agencies.

Agencies screen workers and protect safeguards to make sure that you’re happy with the work. The agencies provide guidance from start to finish, which is very important, especially for those micro-entrepreneurs just getting started with outsourcing.

Consider other potential issues before outsourcing

In addition, make sure you know about these other potential quirks in the world of outsourcing before you have problems:

  • Language barrier: For jobs that require customer interaction, you need to be aware of the worker’s English skill level. Many outsourced workers speak English as a second language.

  • Access: Be aware that outsourced workers will sometimes need access to your website or your source code. Make sure you secure your data (such as backing-up your critical computer files).

  • Piracy: Piracy (the unauthorized use of copyrighted material) is a potential risk you must consider. Intellectual property theft does happen so make sure you have outsourced workers sign nondisclosure agreements (a document two parties sign that protects confidential material). Usually agency sites have protection built into their agreements.

  • Distance from your workers and time zone: You may not be able to visit your workers and chat with them, which may be difficult for you to get used to. If you need to have more interaction than an occasional email, talk with them on Skype once in a while.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Paul Mladjenovic is a certified financial planner, micro-entrepreneur, and home business educator with more than 25 years' experience writing and teaching about financial and business start-up topics. He owns RavingCapitalist.com and is also the author of Stock Investing For Dummies.

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