One thing I personally learned in my life is that you cannot do everything yourself. If you do, you will simply waste too much time.
Let’s theorize for a second and say that I need professionally designed flyers for an upcoming event. Let’s say a BIG club party. Since I’m a designer I can create a flyer myself using Photoshop. Keeping this in mind, it looks like I have other tasks that must be completed prior to the party. Should I use my valuable time creating a flyer? Or should I hire another designer to do it for me?
While I know I have the skill to create a great flyer myself, time is money. So as a smart entrepreneur I would much rather hire somebody else to complete this task for me. That way, I will be able to focus on other important things I need to get done.
The example above could be applied to many different categories like, hiring a developer, personal assistant, somebody to manage social media, etc. Outsourcing various tasks for your business is a great way to save time, money, and frustration. Thanks to technology, we’re now able to outsource as much work as possible to skilled, but cost-effective, external service providers.
Is outsourcing ethical?
Some believe that ‘outsourcing’ is an ugly word. They even go as far to say that it’s unethical. Let’s take a quick look at the actual definition of outsourcing.
- “To procure (as some goods or services needed by a business or organization) under contract with an outside supplier.”
- “The procuring of services or products.”
- “Obtain (goods or a service) from an outside supplier, esp. in place of an internal source.”
- “Outsourcing is the contracting out of an internal business process to a third-party organization.”
The reality is this: Everyone loves to outsource, but dislikes being outsourced. Outsourcing is usually confused with offshoring. Outsourcing doesn’t always mean outsourcing to India, China, or Philippines. A huge chunk of outsourcing is done among corporations on the American soil. Almost every kind of business uses some form of outsourcing.
It makes no sense for a business to develop competencies that are nearly identical across lots of businesses. It’s common sense for a business to farm our functions out to other businesses who can bring down cost while completing the service better than your company ever could.
To give you an example, let’s look at the PC industry. Does Dell create their own CPU chips? No, they buy them from Intel.
To create their own processors, Dell would have to spend billion of dollars to create a separate division entirely for researching and developing processors. Do you think it would be smart for them to do this? No. They can simply buy chips from Intel in bulk at a wholesale price. After all, Intel knows what they’re doing. You and I both know they make great products.
This type of mindset applies to services as well.
Online outsourcing websites allow you to hire workers for as much time as you want, to do nearly anything that you want done that could be done remotely. Another benefit of outsourcing is that you can find workers willing to work for less than people are willing to work locally. People in different countries are willing to work for different wages on average. Outsourcing some work could potentially save your business a lot of money.
There are many websites that allow you to outsource work. Some are clearly better than others. Today we will take a look at the top outsourcing websites you should check out first, if you’re planning to outsource.
Side note: I personally used every single website mentioned. To be perfectly honest I cannot choose a favorite. Every single service has pros and cons. So in the end, it’s up to you to get your feet wet and figure out what works best for you.
Good: oDesk has people willing to work from all over the world. Jobs posted are payed by the hour or at a fixed price. If you choose to hire somebody by the hour, you’ll be able to see a screenshot of your contractor’s screen, their activity level, and if they’re recording hours. You can require your contractors to use this software to make sure they’re working instead of messing around on Facebook.
Guru allows you to have some oversight over your employees and keep them accountable. Furthermore, you can find workers who are willing to work for very little, since oDesk has no limit on job price.
Bad: When there are a lot of low bids, it’s tempting to hire the contractor with the lowest one. Contractors who are paid so little may not be that motivated to produce good work. This is common sense, just put yourself in their shoes. When using oDesk, you must remember to balance cost and quality.
Another problem with oDesk is that it’s possible for contractors to get their friends to hire them. After they complete the phony job, their buddy gives them a 5 start review and writes a really good review. Just keep this in mind when searching for potential candidates.
Good: Similar to oDesk, you can hire contractors by the hour or per project. Elance also has software to ensure contractor quality, called the “Workroom.” The Workroom allows you to view screenshots, files, messages, and work that has been completed. One particularly nice feature of the Workroom is that you can invite co-workers to it. This is easier than showing screen sharing software to them. Elance has minimum bids, which can be both good and bad. It’s good because it allows you to tone down potentially distracting bidding wars.
Bad: While minimum bids can tone down bidding wars, they still happen. It’s important to remember while using Elance, like oDesk, that the lowest bid is not necessarily the best. Another problem is that these bidding wars can discourage qualified candidates from applying, since they may view their application as a waste of time.
Good: Contractors are generally paid using milestones. So you get to see some of their work, to ensure that it gets done, before you pay them. This website is traditionally used to outsource smaller jobs, with the average job being under $200. From a designers perspective, the design of the website is more intuitive and appealing than oDesk or Elance.
Bad: Contractors are encouraged to sponsor their bid, by paying a small fee, to raise it to the top of the list. The most qualified candidates are not necessarily the ones that are most likely to sponsor their bids. So this feature is distracting. Furthermore, contractors can see other contractors’ bids, which encourages bidding wars.
Good: Most of the contractors are US-based. Nearly 200,000 workers are in the US, while only around 50,000 are in India. This is good if you have a job that relies heavily on communication. If you post transcription jobs or article writing jobs on Guru, you will have less trouble finding those native English speakers you wanted. Another good thing about Guru is that you pay for the work that is completed using the Escrow system.
Bad: You have to pay a lot per project if you aren’t a member, over 10%. If you are a member, you have to pay a monthly membership fee. Either way, these are high costs that some other outsourcing websites don’t have.
Good: Focuses on $5 jobs. You can make the best of $5 on Fiverr. There are a lot of jobs that you could outsource for $5, such as voice-over work, small graphic design projects, or transcriptions. These jobs might cost you a lot more on other websites, like oDesk or Elance. Another great thing about Fiverr is getting your money back. If you’re not satisfied, or feel that you’ve been tricked, you can easily get your $5 back.
Bad: This isn’t your one-stop outsourcing website. If you have bigger projects that you want done, you might want to try another outsourcing website. So unless you have a bunch of $5 jobs you want done, this might not be a good choice for you. Another think to keep in mind that Fiverr is flooded with terrible gigs. Even thou it’s five dollars, be smart with your money. Always read the reviews.
A great thing about outsourcing work is that you can find a worker online to do any job that you can think of, which can be done remotely. If you want to find the right worker for the right price, choosing the right outsourcing website to suit your needs is essential.
And one more thing: If you’re one of those people who is enraged by outsourcing, instead of getting upset hire Americans only. Every single website mentioned above allows you to hire people geographically.
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