Outsourcing business tasks can really take the pressure off you when building a business and can help you save time and grow your business to the next level.
However, it really saddens me the number of times I see women trying to build their own successful home business and taking the step to outsource some work, only to be ripped off.
I constantly hear stories, where an agreement has been made only to find that very little of the work needed, is completed. The person hired, basically tries to do a runner with the money. So many times, freelances who promise the earth quickly lose interest or are unable to do the work to the standard required. Rather than admitting their inadequacies and refunding monies already paid, they start to ignore emails, phone calls and Facebook messages.
The person hiring is left with a looming deadline, out of pocket so financially unable to hire someone else and in a sense of abandonment and despair.
Please, if you are going to hire a freelancer, do a few things to protect yourself from the same happening to you.
Agree to Terms and Conditions
Whenever outsourcing any work, before you do anything else agree clear, WRITTEN AND SIGNED, terms and conditions. This needs to include:
- the scope of the work with exactly what is going to be done by whom and when (including any information you need to supply to the freelancer),
- a deadline for the work to be completed,
- how much it is going to cost and
- what happens if either party is unhappy and wishes to cancel.
Do not rely on word of mouth and trust. So many times, agreements have been verbal as a person has seemed so wonderful and the relationship has been on trust, only for it to go horribly wrong. I have known ladies feel embarrassed about asking for T’s & C’s. Really? You are running a business and you need to protect it. If anyone tries to fob you off saying you don’t this, run for the hills.
Read reviews and testimonials
Read their testimonials and contact some of the people who have written them to make sure the reviews are genuine. Yes, it’s a sad world we live in that some people make them up.
Interview them. Yep! You are hiring someone so it’s perfectly ok to speak to them and conduct an interview. Ask them what they would do if they had an emergency and couldn’t complete the work on time. Ask them how many times they have had cancellations or had to refund a client. You can tell a lot from whether they answer quickly and confidently or start to pause and stumble over their words. Listen to your gut feeling when speaking with them.
Start with a sample piece of work
Consider asking anyone you are outsourcing work to, to do a small sample piece of work so you can test out their standards and service. Don’t expect them to do this for free but pay them for a small section of the project that you need help with.
Pay in instalments
Pay in instalments. Don’t ever pay in full upfront. Agree on stage payments. That way, if something starts to go wrong, you can stop your payments until the situation is fixed. Alternatively, you can cancel the agreement altogether (again, make sure this is covered in your written contract.)
Look at payment options
Think about how you pay. If you use PayPal if there is a dispute, and you can prove your case, you should be able to get your money back within a reasonable timescale.
In essence, take time to do your research before hiring anyone and use the checks above before signing on the dotted line and handing over your hard-earned money. I’ve been bitten myself in the past, so I am speaking from experience. It’s horrible when it happens but it makes you much savvier when hiring in the future.
Do you have a story to share on your own experience? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear about it whether good or bad.
Do you make this mistake when hiring a new employee?
It is said that small business owners waste more time and money on poor recruitment decisions when hiring a new employee than any other area of their business.
There is a huge cost in advertising the position, reading through C.V.’s and conducting interviews. Then there is the wasted salary of the employee who fails to stay. And it is not only their salary but the salaries of the other staff who have trained that person and helped them settle in combined with the time it took and loss of other work being completed during this time. Then there is the negative impact of employee churn on existing staff. If they see people coming and going it is bound to affect their own faith in the company and may leave them feeling unsettled.
I have sat through many recruitment processes and seen the results of a the right person being taken on who goes on to be a valuable asset to the business and the inevitable bad mistake that leaves frustration and upset behind.
The secret behind hiring a new employee
So what is the secret to taking on an employee that has the best chance of working out and becoming an asset to your small business?
I believe it comes down to getting the balance right of knowledge, skills and attitude.
Too many employers read C.V.’s and rely solely on the skills and experience or knowledge the applicant professes to have. And this is where I believe they get it wrong.
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Yes, of course, an applicant has to possess certain skills and knowledge dependent upon the role, but I firmly believe the first and foremost attribute a new employee requires is the right attitude.
They can have the best skills in the world but if they have the wrong attitude, they are doomed from the start. I have seen the most skilled of people join businesses I have worked with but it is apparent from the outset that they do not share the passion for the business and quite frankly, I believe some have had a personality bypass! They have no intention of trying to build relationships with existing staff and are just there to take their salary and run.
On the flip side, I have in the past come across individuals who did not possess the skills required to join the business but had such a fantastic attitude, I took the gamble and employed them. In the three instances that firmly stick in my mind, all three became top employees and performers in the business.
Why? Purely because they had the right attitude, they wanted to work for the business and were willing to learn without bring along their own pre-defined opinions and ways of working. They soaked up all the training required and soon had skills that far exceeded those of their peers.
“I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill”
Of course, this cannot work in every environment. It is no use employing an airline pilot purely because they have a great attitude but have never flown before. If you are in an industry where you can take some time to nurture an individual who really wants to work and is willing to learn, the time and effort to bring them up to speed with the skills required could be well worth it.
So think twice before being impressed by that well written C.V. when hiring a new employee. Look beyond the paperwork and find out more about the person themselves to see if they possess the right attitude for your small business. You never know, you many just find yourself a diamond in the rough.
Training your employees is an investment, sometimes in money and always in time. But it is so important. Making the time and monetary commitment to develop your team can have huge benefits including:
Higher levels of performance and productivity
When people know exactly what they are required to do and have the knowledge and skills to do those tasks well, they are able to carry them out with more confidence. This means things get done faster and to a higher standard.
When people perform to a higher standard, orders can be turned around faster and fewer mistakes are made. Both of which lead to increased profit and decreased wastage for your business.
Increased customer satisfaction levels
When people are performing their roles well, customers are happier. When people know how to deal with a complaint effectively, those customers are happier. Happy customers are more likely to come back and buy again. They are also more likely to recommend your business to others.
Decreased staff turnover levels
People who receive training are typically more loyal and happier in their job. This means they are less inclined to leave, saving you the effort of recruiting and training someone new to take their place.
Decreased staff absence levels
People who are happier in their job are also less likely to be absent from work. This means that productivity levels in your business won’t be impacted as frequently with unexpected absences.
Developing your business
As you grow and develop your business, perhaps introducing new products, services or markets, your team will have to develop (and potentially grow) too. These changes won’t be successful unless the people implementing them on a day to day basis understand them and are able to do them.
When people are happy in their job and feel valued (as they do when they are properly trained and developed), they are more likely to speak positively about their employer. This means that the wider world are more likely to have a positive impression of your business, which in turn means they are more likely to buy from you and/or more likely to apply for a job with you should a vacancy arise. Having a larger pool of job applicants give you a greater range of people to employ from.
This article has been written by Fiona Pollock of Zostera Ltd.
Fiona is a Director and Learning Specialist at Zostera Ltd. She has over 15 years’ experience in Learning and Development and specialises in training and developing subject experts who need to teach or train others.
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For more articles by Fiona on how to choose training and what factors to consider visit the Employee section in the members area.