5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Outsourcing

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Outsourcing

outsourcingOutsourcing is one of the most important aspects for every online business owner: An entrepreneur gets to delegate routine work for someone else while he/she can then focus on the more important parts of his/her business.

When you decide whether a task/work is worth outsourcing, ask yourself these five questions. Your answers define the right direction to take when outsourcing and what needs to be done next.

1. Do I want to learn a new skill?

When you are doing a task and you are pondering whether you should be spending time on it or not, ask yourself: “Do I want to learn a skill that I can take advantage of later on?

For instance, when I was writing my book, one of the sub-projects was to build a website for it. I thought that this skill would be very valuable (I might offer web design services later in the future), so I created the site and the design myself.

Points to consider:

  • By answering “yes”, you find the time spent on the task valuable and you realize you can take advantage of it commercially at some point.
  • By answering “no”, you don’t see that the task would add any value to you or your business. In that case, head over to Fiverr, eLance and outsource your tasks through them.

2. Do I have enough work to give to my helper?

I remember the time when I had a day job and yet, my employee didn’t have enough work to give to me. Sure, it was boring and eventually I started doing my own stuff to fill-up the time I was spending at the office.

For the same reason I decided to skip hiring a part-time virtual assistant for now. I just didn’t have enough work to give to this kind of person, so I had to find other alternatives.

I realized that it would be just plain silly to hire a person and not give him/her enough work to keep him/her fully employed.

Points to consider:

  • By answering “yes”, you find outsourcing a strong candidate for taking your online business to another level. Head over to Virtual Assistant Assistant to learn more about the options you have for outsourcing. You can also head over to Time Doctor, to find reviews of top virtual assistant companies.
  • By answering “no”, you understand that your worker would be bored to death because of the lack of work. Instead, check out sites like Efficise for hiring an assistant for smaller amounts of work.

3. Do I consider it only as a cost?

If you see outsourcing only as a cost, you are less likely to outsource your work since you want to save your money for something else.

However, if you see it as an investment to your business, you understand the bigger picture of what it’s all about. When you are able to get rid of the mundane and routine tasks, you can really focus on key areas of your business (creating long-term plans, developing your future products and services…).

Points to consider:

  • By answering “yes”, you see this whole outsourcing thing as a cost and not as an opportunity to grow your business. This is how I felt years ago, but I now understand its value and the benefits it can bring to me. I also realized that the longer I keep doing everything by myself, the longer I’m pulling the brakes – rather than pushing the speed pedal – when building my online business.
  • By answering “no”, you think that outsourcing can grow your business and gives you new opportunities that you didn’t have before. You see it as an investment that is going pay itself back at some point.

4. Am I willing to document my processes?

Expecting that you can just throw your work at someone and you get stellar results in return is plain silly. Rather, you should understand that outsourcing is a two-way street: When you provide solid instructions to your helper(s), you can also expect solid results in return.

Unfortunately, even if documenting and creating processes can be boring, it’s something you just have to do before you can expect any real results from your helper. Since this is the case, why not get started right away?

  • By answering “yes”, you have the right attitude towards outsourcing and you really want to maximize your helper’s time. Just make sure you block enough time for creating processes and documents (written documents, video tutorials…), so that the instructions are easy to follow and understand.
  • By answering “no”, you … sorry, I can’t find any reasons why you shouldn’t document your processes. Maybe outsourcing is just not your thing.

5. Am I willing to get outside of my comfort zone?

Believe it or not, at times outsourcing makes you go outside of your comfort zone.

This can occur when letting your helper access some of the most personal and critical parts of your online business (i.e., your personal inbox, your e-mail list management software, your blog’s admin area, your social media accounts…).

It’s really a trust issue and it can also turn into a real bottleneck of productivity if the trust isn’t there. So rather than letting the assistant help you, you are still doing the routine tasks yourself (things like updating e-mails to your auto responder service, updating posts on your blog…).

  • By answering “yes”, you are able to get all the secondary work out of your hands, considering that it’s clearly documented. Only this way you get the results you were looking for.
  • By answering “no”, there is a trust issue and I can’t blame you. Letting an external person get access to critical parts of your business is sure very scary.

Maybe you could just give partial access to certain services (like to your blog’s admin) or make a decision to hire a dedicated virtual assistant, so that you can create a trusting relationship with him/her. This way it’s easier for you to give them access to your critical systems.

Over to you: What is the biggest stumbling block for not outsourcing your work?

Image credit: Oberazzi

  • I just outsourced the editing of my website using fiverr this weekend and let me tell you, I wish I wouldve done it months ago! What took me months at a time trying to complete, took fiverr less than a few hours toget done! I feel so silly for not having outsourced sooner, but at least now, I’ve learned!

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Julie!

      Yep, Fiverr is one of my favorite places for outsourcing my editing.

      I have used it a lot for the last couple of years and it has saved me a lot of work.


  • Great article Timo!

    However, I don’t completely agree to some of the points made in #2. To me that is not a question you should be asking yourself if you have never outsourced anything as the answer will always be “no” and you won’t go ahead at all.

    To me a more positive question is “how much time can I save by outsourcing” or “what can I do with my freed up time”.

    There is always enough things to outsource but you need to get started with it in order to realize how many they are.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Kosio!

      Thank you :)

      I guess what I was thinking here (when writing this part) was the virtual assistant option. In other words, I still haven’t found enough work for someone to keep him/her employed full-time (or part-time).

      But yes, you can always start with smaller tasks first and do micro-outsourcing (like through Fiverr) to get started (and save time too :).


  • Hey Timo — love it, thanks for the shout-out!

    The mindset shift of outsourcing as a cost-center to a profit-center is huge. If you’re working at a big company, think of it the same way — if the company didn’t plan to make more money from your efforts, why would they have hired you? If their goal is to maximize profits, and it probably is, it wouldn’t make sense to employ unnecessary people. Same with a VA.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Nick!


      And yes, that’s a great point!


  • This is a really great list. I don’t think I have enough work to outsource since I have only been working online for about 3 months, but I hope to be able to outsource in the future. The first tip was something I hadn’t thought of before. I don’t think I would have asked myself if I am willing to learn a new skill, but now I will every time I consider outsourcing anything. That’s a truly great idea! Instead of outsourcing, I could become more useful. Thanks for the article!

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Kalen!

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Yeah, the first question was an “ah-ha” moment for me too.

      Since I knew I’m most likely going to take advantage of the skill I have learned in the future (an example in the tip #1), I decided to do the work myself.


  • I like the question about where one would consider outsourcing as a cost. It’s a great evaluating question to see if outsourcing is worth it for your business. I think outsourcing is great, not just because I’m currently doing it for a company, but it’s really about working smart and investing your time wisely. Thanks for sharing!

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Catherine!

      I agree.

      If it was only looked as a cost, my guess is that many people wouldn’t do it.

      Rather, it’s a way to grow your business by giving you the chance to focus on the important things.