How do I work out what to outsource?
This is a great question - it means your business is growing, and your calendar is full. You love your business, but you have realised that you simply can't (or shouldn't) be doing all the things.
Being a business owner is amazing, but it does come with an expectation that in order for it be your business, you need to do everything.
And, quite frankly, not only is that simply not true, it gets to a point where that is simply not possible.
One of the greatest things you can do for your business is engage experts to handle parts of it - a bookkeeper/accountant for your tax and finances, a lawyer for your contracts, a photographer for your images. So why not admin?
But where to start?
This is a really simple checklist that can help you when you start thinking about outsourcing some or all of your admin. Using these steps will help you define your own comfort levels in outsourcing your admin (and these will be different for everyone), but the below is an excellent way to figure out what is going to work for you!
How to Outsource - a checklist
Make a list of everything that has to happen in your business
This is the very first 'brain dump' of all the tasks that keep your business going.
Some people like to use a big sheet of paper or a whiteboard, and just write down all the things. Others will walk around with a notepad and jot down the things as they do them.
If you aren't a pen and paper person, you can add the list in the Notes app on your phone, or create a board in your project management tool (like Trello or Asana or Clickup etc).
The most important thing is that this is a master list - there's no right or wrong, or yes or no, simply a list of everything that happens in your business over a day, week or month.
Divide and conquer
Block yourself an hour or two (make an appointment with yourself - in your calendar - that involves stepping away from your desk and phone if you can), grab a beverage of your choice, and look at that list with a truly critical eye.
You will need highlighters or coloured pens (if you are a pen and paper type), or you can use a highlight or grouping tool in your preferred app.
First, I want you to highlight all of the things that you really enjoy doing in your business - do these all in one colour. Don't think about anything else, just what you like to do.
Then, I want you to take a second colour or group, and mark all of the things on the list that you are good at. These can be things you have already highlighted, or ones that you don't like. These are the things that play to your strengths. Again, don't think about it too much - just highlight as you see a task or process that you are good at.
Look at what you have created. There will be tasks you enjoy doing, and tasks that you are good at, and there will be a few that are the magic overlap - that you enjoy AND are good at.
Depending on how your list looks at this point, you now need to sort your master list into four categories:
things you enjoy doing
things you are good at doing
things you enjoy and are good at doing
things that have not been highlighted at all
In a perfect world, the things you have highlighted twice (you enjoy and are good at) are what you would keep doing. Everything else would be a candidate to delegate.
The reality will probably be that your budget, time and patience won't allow that (see, honesty!). So let's look at it as a tiered process.
First to outsource
The first tasks you should be looking to outsource are those that haven't been highlighted at all - these clearly are the ones you don't enjoy, or don't fit your skills. These are the ones you should be using as your outsourcing starting point.
Look at this list critically - are they something that one person could do, or would you have different experts helping you? How much time do these tasks take you per week (remember that an expert will be more efficient)?
In our perfect scenario, you would outsource everything that isn't highlighted twice, and life would be easy.
In the real world, you don't have an unlimited budget, nor do you want to hand over everything to do with your business all at once.
So some simple things to keep in mind when looking to outsource are:
what's my budget to get an expert to do this?
what sort of timeframe do I want to use them for?
am I open to the fact that I may need a couple of experts to get what I want?
Selection and engagement
Like any position in your business, your VA needs to fit with you, your business and your values. They can be the best in the world, but if you can't communicate with them, or work together to achieve your business goals, it's a waste of our valuable time and money.
Remember, you get what you pay for - getting an expert won't be bargain basement price, but the value is immediate. Getting time, energy and focus back in your week is what you are paying for. The bonus is that you get what you want done by someone who is a specialist - faster, better and delivered to you as a finished product.
Use your networks, post in specialist groups on social media, and advertise on job boards. Be prepared to have to interview candidates - like any interview, have some questions prepared. Don't jump to a decision, and weigh up your best option (or options) based on how you feel about working with them and what they can do for your business.
Like with a new employee, you should ease them in to start, if you can. Give them a single task, with clear instructions and deadlines. Building trust takes time, but by working with them to give them clear guidance on what you want, and how you want it, you will be helping to make your life easier quicker.
Build from that first task - adding complexity, priorities etc, as you need. Maintain a good working relationship with clear communication. If something isn't right, say so, in a clear and positive way. Working with your VA to get what you want will pay off in the long run, as they will build a bank of knowledge about your business, voice, values and brand that will start to appear automatically in their work for you as they grow with your business.
The big picture
Over time, you can add other VAs to the mix - specialists in different areas to give you the best options possible. Or you can build with a single VA to handle your administration needs.
Either way, the long view is that a VA will give you the time you need to focus on those elements of your business that you love - the ones that made you take that leap in the first place.
There are a great range of places that you can start seeking outsourced support, besides Thrive of course! Some of these are listed below - feel free to check them out to get an idea of how it all works. None of these are sponsored links, nor are they a comprehensive list of the options available. All of the below options are for Australian-based virtual admin services.
Virtually Yours - an Australian directory of virtual admins. You can approach a VA directly, or post a job on their jobs board.
Find a VA - another Australian based directory of virtual administrators. Again, you can search the directory for someone with the skills you are seeking, or post a job via their Facebook job lead page.
Laptops & Lattes Community - this is a Facebook group for Australian women running service based businesses. You can join the group to access a range of specialist service based businesses, and post a job lead in the group.
There are also a range of job boards for freelance work - Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr for example. These sites are international, and do attract offshore freelancers. These sites also usually work in USD, and attract fees for posting and payment services through their sites.
- BLOG AUTHOR -
Marianne is your fast-talking, cheese-loving 'Make it happen' Online Business Manager (OBM) at Thrive Admin Services. Based in Hervey Bay, QLD, with her husband and their two dogs (Eli and Skye), she's a natural problem-solver, with a knack for seeing both the big picture and the small steps needed to make it a reality.
With over 20 years' corporate admin experience, she specialises in working with women in business to share the tips, tricks and features inside systems like Microsoft 365, Simplero, and more. It's all about reducing the overwhelm, frustration and heavy tech-talk, to create common-sense practical systems and processes that make sense to you! After all, sharing is caring!
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