3 Common Outsourcing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
In this video I’ll cover:
- Why systems are critical to your business success and how to start putting them to work for you
- How a project manager can help keep you sane by ensuring everything is getting done on time and according to your guidelines
- The importance of clear communication, and how to make sure all your team members know exactly what’s expected of them
Watch the video:
Click here to ask Melissa a question.
Time Freedom Video Transcript – 3 Common Outsourcing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Hi everyone, it’s Melissa Ingold from TimeFreedomBusiness.com. This week’s reader question comes from Kelly.
“A couple of years ago I tried outsourcing because everyone said it was the only way to grow my business. Maybe it is, but all it did was cost me money. Why does outsourcing work for you, but not for me? What am I doing wrong?”
I want to share three common mistakes that a lot of people who are new to outsourcing do. The first one is that there are no clear expectations when it comes to what you expect from your team. It’s really good to have an initial meeting to talk about what it is that you expect from them.
No Clear Expectations
When you can talk to them, whether you jump on Skype and you have a meeting or you do a Hangout, it’s very important that they understand and you have a good idea of whether or not they are someone who can meet those expectations. This is something, actually, I’m doing. This afternoon I’m going to be having a meeting where we’re going to talk about the expectations for a project.
Basically, what we’re going to do is we’re going to discuss what is expected of them and I want to know if that’s something they’re okay with. What are they thinking when they are going into the project. Then I’m going to basically outline everything that I want them to achieve with the particular project.
That way, I’m going to leave the call feeling really good that this person is going to be able to handle everything. The team member is going to leave the call knowing exactly what is expected of them. That way they’re not always guessing. There’s not a lot of back and forth wondering, “What am I supposed to do? Is that okay if I do that?”
Another video that I did, and I will link to that below this video, is about team leadership roles. A lot of that has to do with giving your person permission to do things, to step into a role of leadership where they take the initiative and they make things happen. Team members will not do that without permission from you.
They’re always going to be looking to do for the right answer, for what’s next, for what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Having those clear expectations in place, whether you write them out, record a video for them or you get on Skype and talk with them, they’re going to feel a whole lot better going into the project, and so will you.
No Systems in Place
Another common mistake is where there are no systems in place. A lot of people who start outsourcing, and maybe this is something that you haven’t done either, is to have systems in place. This kind of ties into training as well. When you have systems, it’s going to be a lot easier for your team to flow and to make their work easier, and it’s going to be better. It’s going to make your whole business run like a well-oiled machine.
Systems are things like having a central location for communication, for files, a calendar, for projects. I personally use Basecamp. A lot of people use Google Calendar. Look for a project management system or a calendar system that is really going to be the central place for your team, for outsourcing and keeping everything organized and on task.
Consider Hiring a Project Manager
As your business grows and as your team grows you can bring on someone into the project manager role. A lot of people refer to them too as online business managers or operations managers. They basically come in and manage all of the other people on your team. They assign work. They keep everyone on track, keeping deadlines, communications, gathering files. It’s all done in one place.
A lot of times the ball will get dropped if you are just using email, because then you don’t know what the calendar looks like for your assistant. She doesn’t know what’s going on with you. With the lack of having a structured system in place, it really makes it difficult to stay on track, meet deadlines and to keep everything organized and that’s where a system like Basecamp project management system can really be beneficial for your business.
There are a lot of other systems too. There are systems that have to do with setting up, for instance, a simple system for managing your Facebook content. Do you have a whole system, a whole plan created for that where your team can go in and consistently do it over, and over, and over again without a lot of feedback and without a lot of back and forth, struggling and not knowing what to do next?
If you have a system in place for Facebook, “How are we going to keep our content on the page? How are we going to keep people engaged? How are we going to make sure that everything that we’re doing is promoted on social media?” then things are just going to tick along a whole lot easier.
I actually want to recommend my Freedom Finder program here for that, because we actually create entire plans just like that. It’s just really amazing and it will help you put those systems in place for your business.
Another example of a system is for free webinars. If you do a lot of free webinars to build your list and build your brand, then what is your system for that? Are you, every time you need your virtual assistant’s help with the next webinar you’re doing and so it’s again like starting from scratch? There’s back and forth. You’re getting frustrated and annoyed that she still doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be doing, because you don’t have a system for that.
It can drive you crazy and you’re wasting a lot of money because it’s costing your VA. She’s charging you buy the hour, and that’s just sucking up so much of her time and it’s costing you a lot, a lot of money. Having a system can save you a ton of money, a ton of headaches and it’s really going to help you grow the business by having a system in place for that.
Every step she knows exactly what she needs to do when she goes in. She has all of those resources and it’s a whole system that she can apply to your business over and over and over again without having to start from scratch every single time.
Another common mistake is that there is a breakdown in communication. I talked earlier about having a project management system, where communication can be in a central place and you can send messages and that stuff. Even though there is that communication, there can still be communication breakdowns where certain things are not getting across, and that can be really frustrating. It can just drive a business owner crazy.
Here’s the thing. If you are not initiating open communication and giving your team permission to communicate with you, then they’re not going to just step up and do that. You have to give them a platform to make sure that communication stays open. A lot of people love to implement weekly team meetings or even just once a month where you all get together. You’re going over everything in the business and everyone is on the same page with that.
Team Meetings and Regular Check-Ins
You could even just have weekly reports sent from your team. These are some strategies that we are going to be implementing with my team very shortly. That is to have regular team meetings and get back on track with regular reports. That way everyone is on the same page. Everyone knows what’s happening and there is no breakdown in communication.
A lot of time when there is a breakdown in communication, yes it could happen when you have just one virtual assistant, you’re not getting their messages. You’re not coming across clear enough and they don’t understand. Again, that’s where training kind of ties into communication as well. That way there is no back and forth, back and forth. If you’ve outsourced before guys, you know what I’m talking about. There can be that crazy back and forth.
That’s where training comes into place. A lack of communication and a breakdown in communication will creep up when you start bringing on more team members. You’ve got you, your project managers and you’ve got VAs, designers, tech people and you’ve got all of these people and things like communication can break down.
We may have something going on here with customer support that isn’t getting back to project management which is messing up something over here and so there can be some breakdown. You’ve got to really make sure that you have systems and procedures and expectations in place for everything that’s going on. That way you can prevent and do your best to stop that breakdown in communication.
The key takeaways from this are, make sure that you have clear expectations in place for your people so they know what to expect on particular projects. It feels good for you as a business owner because you know, “Okay, they understand what I’m looking for and what I need from them.”
You’re going to feel a lot better going forward. They are going to know what is expected of them and so they are going to feel a lot better going forward, again, having that permission to step up and do the things that will really help you grow your business as well.
Then, also having systems in place for everything is really important. The number one thing is to have that central communication center, whether you just want to use a Google document and the Google calendars. What I really recommend is to have Basecamp or another project management system where there is a calendar, to-do lists and they get email notifications when things are due. Files can be uploaded and shared.
You can connect one team member with another team member so the project manager has access to everyone and makes sure everything is managed. It sounds really overwhelming and complicated, but it’s really not when you have the right platform to manage everything.
Again, a quick reminder about the different systems. There’s everything from how to set up a product in your shopping cart. What is the system for that? What is the system for following up with customers? What are your systems in place for handling customer support? What are your systems for getting content out there? What are your systems for hosting webinars? What is the whole process and system for that?
About the Time Investment
Those are going to make a world of difference. I know it sounds like a lot, a lot of work, but it is worth it over time. Really, you only have to do that work once, right? Then it’s done and any person that you bring on, you can just recycle any of that and pass it on to them and they’ve got everything you need.
Make sure you go check out my Freedom Finder program. It’s really awesome. People are just absolutely loving it and it can be so beneficial to your business.
Again, the last key takeaway is communication. You’ve got to make sure that there is a platform for your people to communicate, to keep the doors of communication open, so that your team doesn’t feel afraid to discuss things with you and to approach you. Maybe they think, “Oh, she’s going to get so mad. I don’t want to tell her.” but really that’s just going to cause a breakdown in trust and that’s not okay.
You’ve got to make sure that your people know that you understand. Crap is going to happen. Things are going to blow up. You’re going to make mistakes because you’re only human. They’ve got to know that it’s safe to go to you and communicate everything and be open about everything that they’re doing.
I hope that really helps. If you guys love this video and you want to offer feedback or ask questions, make sure you go over to my Facebook page and start a comment or question there. I’d love to connect with you if you go to https://Facebook.com/TimeFreedomBusiness. I would love to get to know you better over there.
If you would love to have your question answered, make sure that you click the link below this video and you will find a form that you can fill out all of your information, your name and your question, and send it to us and I will try to answer it on an upcoming video. Also, if you would love the link to the Done-for-You Outsourcing Plans, you’ll find the link for that below too. I would love to have you join us in that program.
That is it for me, and I will talk to you soon. Thanks. Bye.