This article comes from my friend Stephanie Ward. She’s originally from Oklahoma, but currently lives in The Netherlands. She wants to help you become a more meaningful entrepreneur, making a difference in the world.
While this article isn’t specifically written for rural entrepreneurs, I think outsourcing is a small town issue. Outsourcing doesn’t just mean big companies sending hundreds of jobs overseas. It also means entrepreneurs contracting with other professionals to take on tasks from administrative support to programming and development.
In small towns, many of us feel like we work in isolation: we may not have anyone in our town or area who can handle a given task for us. Some small town entrepreneurs make their living by providing freelance or virtual assistant services through these methods or others. And several large rural firms specialize in “rural sourcing,” providing remote IT services usually to large urban firms.
I’d love to hear in the comments how you feel about this issue. Do you object to hiring help from outside the country you live in? Do you seek out other small-town or rural providers for remote help? Do you provide services like this yourself? Speak up and share your story and your opinion.
By Stephanie Ward
As a business owner the one thing that is a limited resource is your time. You can make your life more fun and your business more productive by outsourcing activities. These days it’s super easy to delegate both personal matters as well as business activities.
Almost anything you are currently doing can be delegated or outsourced. Doing what you’re not good at or what you can pay someone else to do for much less than your hourly rate, is draining the life out of you and holding your business back.
The point of delegating some of what you do to someone else is so that you can focus your precious time on the things that you do well and enjoy and that allow you to create the most value.
Delegation does not equal dumping. Initially, it will require extra time to describe what you want done and how you want it done. In the end you will save time and be more profitable.
I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by all of the choices here. So decide on one activity you’d love to outsource and then compare your options for getting that done. Start small, you can always outsource more later.
At oDesk http://www.odesk.com their motto is, “Get the right contractor. Get the job done.” They work globally and you can post your job offer for free. They offer contractors in the following main categories: Web Development, Software Development, Networking and Information Systems, Writing and Translation, Administrative Support, Design and Multimedia, Customer Service, Sales and Marketing, and Business Services.
Their key selling points are:
- Hire on demand – Build a flexible workforce based on skills, ratings, and reviews.
- Manage the work – See work-in-progress screenshots, time sheets, and daily logs.
- Pay with ease – Rest assured with safe global payments and The oDesk Work Guarantee.
Another well-known option is Elance http://www.elance.com. They work globally and you can post your job offer for free. Most Popular Skills: Programmers, Designers, Writers, Admins, Marketers, Consultants, Accountants, and Mobile Developers. They boast over 1,800,000 rated and tested professionals to choose from and highlight the following benefits:
- Get candidates right away
- Approve work before payment
- Staff up and down as needed
3. FANCY HANDS
Fancy Hands http://www.fancyhands.com is available worldwide only in the English language and assistants are located all over the United States. You pay per request, not per hour. They offer a subscription based model, you pay monthly. See all packages on their home page.
4. GET FRIDAY
Get Friday http://www.getfriday.com works around the clock 24/7 and caters to busy individuals and small businesses in 30 odd countries across different time zones. You can choose from monthly plans or task based plans. They offer the following service categories: Calendar Management, Customer Interaction Management, Home Assistance, Online Research, Purchases, Phone, Travel, Data Entry, Database Management, Follow Up and Reminder, Secretarial, and Personal. For more detail visit this page: https://www.getfriday.com/?module=services&action=getfridaycanhandle.
5. BRICKWORK INDIA
Brickwork India http://www.brickworkindia.com/virtual-assistant/ offers services in Remote Executive Assistance (Business Support Services, Accounting and Taxation Support), Research and Consulting (Business Research, Investment Research, Healthcare Research, Procurement Consulting India Strategy Assessment, Legal Services, Content Development), and IT Services (Graphics and Animation, Opensource and Microsoft Technology, Internet Marketing Services).
6. ASK SUNDAY
Ask Sunday http://www.asksunday.com/ does currently service members from around the world but the requests must be English-based (they can’t call a shop in Germany and speak to them in German). Request Types include: Data Analysis/Entry, Internet/database research, Outbound calling, Social media management, Real-time remote login for technical and general support, Continuous processes, Document Editing, Uploading content onto websites, Managing online postings, Email correspondence, and Miscellaneous – get creative. They are open 24/7 and offer a free trial. Services are sold in blocks of hours per month, more on this http://www.asksunday.com/dedicatedplanspricing.
7. INTERNATIONAL VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS ASSOCIATION
International Virtual Assistants Association http://www.ivaa.org offers a directory where you can search to see if there is someone in your area.
8. TASK RABBIT
Task Rabbit http://www.taskrabbit.com is currently only available in The United States: Boston, San Francisco Bay Area, San Antonio, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and Orange County, New York City and soon it will be in the United Kingdom. Task Rabbit offers many specific services under each of these main categories: Delivery, House Chores, Shopping, Office Help, Handyman, Moving Help, Virtual Assistance, Event Help, and Skilled. There are even more categories, see the complete list here: https://www.taskrabbit.com/all/tags. For more on how it works see this page https://www.taskrabbit.com/how-it-works.
9. NICHE PROVIDERS
You can also search for specialized niche providers related to your industry. For example, a wonderful friend of mine is the owner of NGO Office Support http://www.ngoofficesupport.com. As the name communicates, she provides office support for NGO’s and she offers this virtually and in person.
I hope I’ve convinced you that there are a multitude of effective options for outsourcing some of your workload. Make the decision today to choose one activity to delegate, take action to find the right partner, and get it done. That way you’ll have more time to focus on the activities that create more value for your business.
© Stephanie Ward, used by permission.
Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to create a meaningful and prosperous businesses. Grab your FREE copy of the special report ’7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at http://www.fireflycoaching.com.
A couple of articles we’ve published before can help you with the question of hiring or contracting with an assistant.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.