Can you outsource that task?

September 24th, 2012   •   no comments   

Many small-business owners like to do everything themselves, particularly  when they’re just starting out. There’s good reason for this: Going it alone can  save time and money and assure quality control. That said, if you want to your  company to grow — even if it’s based in your home — it often makes sense to  outsource certain tasks so you can focus on business development.

Here are five specific duties to consider outsourcing:

  1. Data entry — Data entry is dull and time-consuming, and it  requires little skill. Why waste your time on it? If you have a huge stack of  business cards from a recent conference and don’t have time to transfer all of  the names and numbers to an Excel spreadsheet, pay someone to handle the task  for you. Likewise, if you need information converted from one type of online  document to another, a virtual  assistant should be able to tackle the project at minimal cost.
  2. Web production — You’ve established a blog to help grow  your business’s online visibility, but formatting links, text, and photos takes  far too much of your time. No problem: Hire a freelancer through an online  marketplace such as Elance or Guru to convert your blog posts from basic text  documents into share-worthy links.
  3. Social  media promotion — Don’t have time to tweet and update your company’s Facebook  page daily? Use outside help. Take advantage of the project-management tools  offered by a service like HootSuite, which can give you the chance to  approve and edit scheduled social media posts in advance of  publication.
  4. Outreach efforts ­— Let’s say you’re hosting a giveaway  on your website and want to promote it. Don’t spend your time sending out emails  to bloggers who may or may not be interested. Instead, draft a template letter  and hire someone to research relevant leads and customize the letter for each  recipient. Your assistant could also reach out to sales prospects individually,  but you’ll likely want to correspond with potential new customers directly once  they’ve expressed interest.
  5. Email management — If your email inbox is filled with  hundreds of new messages each day, have someone else to filter them. Your  assistant can flag high-priority messages that you need to follow up on  immediately; separate those related to specific projects into folders; and  respond to those that don’t require your input. (Note: If you do this, make sure  you use a separate, personal email account for the messages you don’t  want your assistant to see.) Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour  Workweek, offers these tips  for outsourcing your inbox, as well as an extremely comprehensive virtual  assistant questionnaire.


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