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Better Than Multi-Tasking, Multiply Your Abilities By Outsourcing

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Whether you’re running your business alone or with a full staff, you may have an occasional task to be done which is beyond your resources. That might mean you have a short-term need for skills you don’t possess – like creating a social media promotion with special software. Or maybe you have the skills but not the time for an accounting project, such as organizing expenses for tax preparation.

What are Your Options?
You could call a temp agency. But you’ll need to provide the temp worker with office space, equipment and possibly purchase expensive software. And, in addition to the temp’s wages you’ll be responsible for certain payroll-related costs. Then again, if your project can be performed online, you will likely have more flexibility and less expense if you hire a contractor from a freelance registry.

One choice is Odesk, which lets you list your online project for free, and then choose from among the contractors who respond. Among the other registry sites are Elance, for a variety of workers, or Ebyline for writers. Depending on the site you may be able to simply set your price, which might be hourly or per project. Other registries might allow contractors to bid on your project. The work is done remotely, so there’s no need for you to provide office space, equipment, or specialized software.

The finished product is delivered to you online, by your deadline. Once the task is done to your satisfaction, you pay the registry the agreed upon contractor fee, plus a markup (generally of 5% to 15%), and the registry pays the contractor. Done! No payroll-related costs or other employment entanglements.

Are There Drawbacks?
Nothing’s perfect. As in any situation, if you’re looking to hire the cheapest possible labor, you could end up with shoddy work. Some contractors answer every ad regardless of their actual skills, so it’s up to you to list and choose carefully. But keep in mind, many well-qualified contractors located outside of the United States can work for very low wages and still earn a good living, because they are subject to different economic factors.

Here are some tips to increase your chances of finding the right contractor:

Give it time. List your project early enough to give yourself time for careful selection.

Projects are posted by categories and subcategories. The more you can subcategorize your needs, the better.

Be specific. List project and experience requirements in detail to weed out those who apply for every job.

Previous experience is important. Insist on a contractor who has done prior work for the registry.

Read client comments about contractors you are considering. If allowed, set an acceptable level of feedback, such as “must have client feedback of 4 stars or higher.”

Grasp of the language. These days, many offshore contractors barely speak English so if a strong grasp of the language is critical, say so. For example: “English must be your first language.”

Sift carefully through responses, for a good fit. You may want to choose a few contractors, give them a closer look at the project details, and then wait a day or two to see who is still interested.

Time & pay. For hourly workers, sites like Odesk provide a “window” into the progress of work as it happens, through a system called “Work Diary.” However, if you can determine the dollar value of the overall project, it’s often better to set a project price.

Keeping up with changes in technology is not easy, especially in the business world. Outsourcing certain projects lets you cover the bases efficiently and affordably, leaving you free to do what you do best… run your company.

Teresa Ambord

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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