Listen to any podcast or read a business self-help book, and you’ll continuously hear the phrase: “outsource that!”. What the experts mean is that it’s often a better idea to pay someone to do things that you aren’t good at or take you a lot of time, then to spend your time and effort trying to do them yourself. That clears up some of your schedule for you to tackle projects that you excel at and give you the potential to make more money.
Examples range from anything like outsourcing childcare, housekeeping, cooking, to more professional roles like administrative tasks, bookkeeping, or specialized industry jobs like design, engineering, etc. By paying someone else to tackle these things for you, it’s your chance to work to your strengths and capitalize on the extra time that you have to either find self-fulfillment in a hobby, catch up on your personal needs, or maximize your business income.
It can really change your life, yet outsourcing is something that you have to be extremely careful about if you don’t want to run into legal and financial problems in the future.
Problem #1- Contractor vs. Employee
A common problem in the employment world is the distinction between hiring an independent contractor and hiring an employee directly. If you have an employee, there are certain responsibilities from your end that you should be fulfilling, such as paying into certain employment insurance funds, vacation pay, pension funds, etc., and possibly paying an insuring body for covering their liability when they are on the job. Obviously, this all depends on the line of work you are hiring for and your local state or provincial laws. An independent contractor will be less complicated on this front but you have less control over what they do for you, when they do it, and whether they can simultaneously take on competing clients. If this isn’t a problem for you, then you will most likely want to make sure that you are clear from the beginning of the relationship that they are your independent contractor and not your employee. Before you take the plunge, you might want to have an experienced lawyer answering all your legal questions and problems.
Problem #2- Delegating Takes Time
Other than the obvious cost, there is one other major issue which people have to overcome when outsourcing work- delegating. You think that the entire job or task is now off of your plate, but before you hand it off, you need to define the scope, decide on a pay schedule, give details regarding expectations, etc. The person needs to know what you want them to do, and preparing the materials for them to work from might be a hefty investment of time and effort. However, if you think that this will be a positive and long-lasting professional relationship, it’s completely worth the extra effort. It will all be fine as long as you don’t have the expectations for your contractor or employee to just come in and start working automatically with no guidance.
Problem #3- Loss of Quality
Many people find that they can only rely on themselves to produce high-quality results, whether it’s a poster for your business’s upcoming event or even deep cleaning your home bathroom. They find it difficult to trust someone else to care as much and deliver a superior product or service, either because their skills aren’t quite there, or they are not as invested in the results as you are. There are a few ways around this issue of quality control and trust. One is that you hire someone to do something you can’t do well. That way, it will be relatively easy to appreciate the results because in the end, they are far better than anything you could ever do. Secondly, do a trial run. If you can tell from the start that this person does not fit the expectations of the job or fit in with their personality and style, you can easily let them go with no consequences. A third option is to really place emphasis on describing what you want in as much detail as possible and create opportunities for feedback and continuous improvement. Communication is extremely important in this regard and without it, you may both become disenchanted and unhappy with the relationships as well as the quality of work.
Hiring someone to help you in your personal or professional role can be an effective way to grow as a person and as a business owner. However, anticipate growing pains, as it can take a while for you to be able to define exactly what you expect, lay out the position in a legally and financial advantageous manner, and find the right person for the job. Consult your professional resources like lawyers and accountants before taking this step, and ask your network for recommendations for a potential employee or independent contractor with the skillset you are looking for.