How to Outsource Work When You Don’t Have Much Cash

Outsourcing is not just for the rich, but it’s necessary to make you rich…

You probably wouldn’t cut your own hair. You probably wouldn’t fix your own car. But you probably do clean your own room and do your own soul-destroying admin work.

The outsource myth

Too common is the advice that when starting out we need to do everything. That we must wear every hat and plow through the tough grind of whatever project we are working on with relentless energy.

How to decide what to outsource

When not to outsource

There are a few things we should bear mind when deciding what work to outsource. The first one is my golden rule of outsourcing. Don’t outsource from a place of ignorance. Never hire a freelancer to do a job you zero idea how to do. I’ve done it before, and it wasn’t pretty. You end up getting ripped off, you end up getting work delivered that isn’t what you wanted. There are three reasons for this.

  1. If you have no idea what you are talking about you might not even know what problem you are trying to solve. For example, if you want a website but don’t know about no-code builders you’ll pay over the odds for a pointless custom website.
  2. If you can’t even slightly speak the language then you are going to find it more difficult to communicate with your freelancer.

Identifying and prioritising tasks to delegate

Generally, you want to be looking for the lowest leverage, highest effort tasks. You can check out this article on leverage if you want to find out more about that. Generally when we speak about low leverage work we mean work that a tonne of people can do. If lots of people can do it, it’s low leverage, if it’s low leverage it’s cheap. That’s the beauty of supply and demand.

  1. Come up with ideas for t-shirts
  2. Screen-print the t-shirts
  3. Package and ship the t-shirts
  4. Deal with customer support requests

How to find talent

Once you’ve made a list of the tasks you want to outsource, you’re going to be ready to go and find talent.

  • I pick a selection of 3 or more freelancers, based on their past work.
  • I then give them all the same assignment to complete, of course paying them for this assignment.
  • If I’m happy, I pick the best one and we work together.

Make a process so they can’t fail

Your relationship with your freelancer, and the quality of work you receive, will fall to the level of your system. A system for getting a cleaner is easy. You come round at this time, I pay your rate, you clean the house, and take care of any extra bit I put on a to-do list.

The Job Spec

The first part of your process is going to be the job specification. This might seem overkill, especially if it is for a freelancer who you are only going to be utilising for a few hours a week or less, but it’s vital you put one in place so you both have a clear idea of what is expected from the relationship.

Agree on payment and deadlines

The worst thing that can happen with outsourcing work is disputes on pay. You can avoid it altogether by making sure before any work begins both of you are crystal clear on under what criteria work will be paid for

Make all work visible

At the start, your freelancer is going to need a lot of hand-holding. They won’t understand your unique needs and ways of working. You need to over-communicate exactly what you expect from them from each task you assign. Otherwise, they’ll end up handing you a heap of shit, and you’ll have to pay for it.

Regular feedback

Feedback is the miracle ingredient to a good relationship with your practitioner. Without it, you’ll both just being increasingly more pissed off with each other until the relationship explodes. With it, your relationship can grow into something beautiful.

Co-founder, Chief Product Officer, Lithium Ventures. Web 3.0 Enthusiast.