We’ve all heard horror stories of outsourcing mishaps and virtual assistants gone wild.
But, whether you’re scaling your business or bootstrapping a startup, the benefits of outsourcing jobs and small tasks can be a real game changer. For many of us, the horror stories and lack of guidance are enough to hold us back.
So, when I had the chance to interview someone with years of outsourcing experience, I jumped at the opportunity. Liam Martin is not one of those guys who just talks the talk. He has a successful track record of building profitable, scalable businesses Staff.com and Time Doctor by applying his own field-tested principals for tapping into the benefits of outsourcing. Over the years, he’s learned the hard way, so you don’t have to.
After building my first web design business by leveraging some outsourced talent, I’d like to think that I have some expertise myself in the area of outsourcing benefits. But, after my conversation with Liam, I could tell that he not only knows how to outsource effectively, be he’s also very skilled and helping others learn to do the same.
Here’s the interview with outsourcing expert, Liam Martin…
The Real Benefits of Outsourcing
How did you get your start with web-based businesses?
I finished grad school just in time to see the economy completely collapse. After months of job searching I decided to start tutoring students online. After a few months I started to hire my friends to tutor students, then their friends and before you knew it we had 100 people in the company, tutoring mostly premed students through skype.
What was one of the biggest lessons you learned in your first year as an entrepreneur?
If you want to grow past being a ‘onetrepreneur’ you must systematize all the processes within your business before moving forward. Once you’ve conquered that and you have a scalable profit funnel, you’re set.
What are the biggest obstacles of outsourcing?
- Lack of education in the process. Educating someone virtually is completely different from doing it locally and you have to change your management philosophy in order to adapt to virtual companies.
- The realization that outsourced employees are smarter than you. Just because you’re paying them a fraction of what you would pay a local employee does not make them less effective. In most cases they are more effective and can usually do jobs better than you ‘the business owner’ can. Delegate work and stay out of their way.
- Proper tracking and accountability. Since everyone is working virtually many employers are wary of whether their outsourced employees are getting work done. We have a great solution to that problem but any tracking option that places accountability and productivity at it’s core will help solve that.
How can new founders realize the full benefits of outsourcing?
Educate yourself before jumping in. Read a few books and blog posts, speak to other companies that already do it. 1 in 5 employees now work remotely so it shouldn’t be that hard to find a company that can help you.Next, systematize your business. Write down your top tasks and choose the most time consuming one then create a step by step guide. Give that guide to outsourced employees and ask for input, figure out what changes you need to make until it runs smoothly and you no longer have to do that job. Rinse and repeat.
If you could tell one thing to someone considering starting their first business, what would that be?
Don’t worry about problems of success before you’re successful. Business success boils down to three things. Acquisition, conversion and retention. Don’t worry about the last two if you haven’t figured out the first one.
This year during SXSW a bunch of successful entrepreneurs got together to produce an unofficial panel called “The Most Important Panel You’ll Ever Attend: How to Get Your First 100 Paying Customers”
Panelists include the founders of Mixergy, AppSumo, Lujure, and Liam Martin (interviewed in the post above). If you’re going to be at SXSW, I highly recommend getting in on this panel (no badge required!) http://appsumo100.eventbrite.
If you’re not going to be in Austin this weekend, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our Verge media team will be there to livestream all the action for you, simply sign up here and we’ll send you the details for the interactive livestream.
Have you tried outsourcing with virtual assistants or offshore talent? What kinds of questions do you have?