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🎯 Why you should be outsourcing more
I’m Brian and each week I publish content on personal growth. Sometimes it will be things I’ve learned in my own growth experience, but most times I’ll be answering readers’ questions about personal growth. Send me your questions, and in turn, I’ll do some research & interviews and humbly offer the best advice I find.
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Q: I’ve heard you talk about outsourcing a lot and I was hoping you could explain why I should consider it.
Big businesses outsource all the time. They outsource because it helps them move faster, save time & money, and reduce risk. When businesses outsource, they might be doing it to:
Bring in extra talent to work on a specific project or initiative
Seek out very specific expertise
Save money on overhead & management costs
A lot of us want to move faster or save time & money in our personal lives, but we don’t outsource nearly as much personally as the businesses we work for.
Something I’ve noticed in my life is that the wealthiest people that I know outsource a lot. I thought this was a function of the money that they had. If you have more money, then you can pay people to do stuff for you, right?
What I’ve actually seen though is that part of what made these people wealthy is that they outsource. They’ve been creating extra time throughout their life by outsourcing a bunch of aspects of their lives.
“I’ve been outsourcing stuff since I was 15-years old. Initially, I would pay my sister a dollar here or there to do stuff for me that I didn’t want to do. That just evolved for me over the course of my life and I kept outsourcing bigger and bigger things. “
- A wealthy person who chose to remain anonymous
Do you have an interest in increasing your productivity without necessarily working harder? Let’s chat about outsourcing then.
Three reasons you should be outsourcing more, starting right now.
1. Outsourcing is like buying your time for a heavy discount.
Ever felt like you want to replicate yourself so you can get more done in a day? You have 24-hours in a day and that’s all you’re going to get. One of the worst things you can be doing with your precious time is doing things that another person could do just as good for a fraction of the cost.
Let’s say you make $62,400 per year, then your time is worth about $30 per hour ($62,400 salary / 2080 working hours per year). This means that anything you spend an hour of your time on is worth about $30 based on the employment agreement you’re under that says that’s what your time is worth.
If there is something you’re doing that you could pay someone else $5 to do, you’re losing money by doing it by yourself. It’s funny how this happens because often we feel like we’re saving money by doing things ourselves. But by doing menial tasks on our own, we’re using time and energy that we can use on something more productive.
I made a visual to represent this. Let’s think of a task like finding a dinner reservation for Friday night. If I do that myself and it takes an hour, I’ve lost $30 in productivity. But if I pay someone else $5 to do it and I use the one hour I get back to do something productive, I end up positive $25 in terms of the value I produced in my life.
Once you outsource an hour’s worth of a task, you get that one hour of time back. It’s up to you what you focus that hour of time on. You can focus it on something more productive (i.e. work that produces income for you) or something you would rather be doing (i.e. exercise, spend time with friends, watch a movie, etc.).
Where this gets really interesting is when you outsource things that are themselves productive by nature. Let’s say you outsource a part of your job that you would otherwise have to do, and with the hour that you get back you do another job task. You’ll nearly double the production value of that one hour.
This is because you’re producing value in that one hour and the person you outsourced to is producing similar value for you at the same time. It looks something like this:
So, the number one reason to outsource is that you buy your time back, and you can use that time however you wish.
2. You improve your management skills while getting hyper-organized
Have you ever had a manager ask you do complete a task or assignment, but they weren’t clear on exactly what they wanted? Maybe you spent a few hours on the task only to find out later that you ran in the wrong direction? A bad manager will blame you for that, but a good manager will recognize that their instructions were flawed.
When you outsource, you’re managing the results produced by the person that you outsource to. Everything that they know about the project, the task, and the ideal outcome will be based on whatever you tell them. If you tell them something that’s unclear, they’ll produce something other than what you intended.
When you outsource something for the first time, you’re going to get some interesting feedback on how effective your detailed communication skills are, based on the results. This will require you to uplevel your communication and get hyper-organized in your asks. Net-net, you’ll end up becoming a better overall manager from outsourcing.
I’m currently dealing with a communication mistep that is feedback for how undetailed I was in my instructions. I outsourced the creation of some Pinterest pins for this article. I think the person I assigned the job to did a great job with the pins. But, all the pins he returned had white men in the images. In my request, I wasn’t explicit about the demographics I wanted in the images at all.
You can see the results here, but it was feedback for me on how I get to improve the way my thoughts leave my head and land on the page or the other person. I get to make sure we’re aligned and I can watch out for places where I make assumptions, especially cultural ones.
3. They’ll produce higher quality results than you could on your own
In reason #1 above, I talked about how outsourcing makes a lot of sense if someone can do the same quality of work that you can for a fraction of the cost of your own labor. This holds even more true when they can produce higher quality results than you can.
If you’ve ever used an outsourced service, you’ll notice that people specialize in certain types of assignments. When people specialize, they get really good, really fast, or both. They can return a quality of work that might take you twice as long to produce. If this is a possibility, you should most definitely outsource that work.
I once worked on a project that required a lot of cold outreach via email. If you’ve ever done cold email outreach, you know it can be a grind and to be honest I wasn’t the most consistent at sending the emails out. So, I found someone who could consistently email people for me, have the initial back and forth conversation, and schedule a phone call with me. She easily emailed twice as many people as I would have personally and I got to focus my time on warm leads.
I think that if I really put my mind to it, I could have produced equal quality results. But this assignment was in her skillset wheelhouse, so she excelled. It was worth it to outsource it.
What should you be outsourcing?
Tim Ferriss has a good framework for what you should be outsourcing that I post an image of below. It’s kind of complicated.
The high level summary is you can outsource anything that:
Needs to be done
Can’t be automated
Can be done by another person
I would assess the steps in that order. For example, it can be a challenge to find a meeting time with another person. I could outsource that to my Virtual Assistant, but Calendly does it automatically, so I don’t outsource it to a person. Alternatively, I can’t automate video transcription at a high-level, so I end up outsourcing that to a person.
Unfortunately, you can’t outsource things that other people can’t do for you. You can’t outsource exercise, for example. You can pay someone else to work out, but that won’t impact your own personal health. While you can outsource certain aspects of a relationship (buying flowers for example), you can’t outsource the relationship itself.
Another key to this equation is it should be something that you don’t want to do. If you do want to do it or enjoy doing it, then don’t outsource it.
For example, I studied accounting and passed the Tax portion of the CPA exam, so I can technically do my own taxes. But I hate taxes, so I outsource it (and get more money back). I actually enjoy posting on Instagram & Twitter because I get to engage with people, so I do that myself.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that either I or someone I know has outsourced to someone else to do for them:
Meals / cooking 🥕
Taxes & tax prep 💸
Growing a social media following 📸
Standing in line at the DMV 🚗
Responding to LinkedIn inquiries 📨
Selling stuff on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace 🛏
Amazon purchases 🛍
Creating an Airbnb listing 🏡
Finding jobs to apply to 💼
Booking flights & hotels 🏝
Finding good locations for a date 🍷
Swiping on dating apps for the person ❤️
These are pretty specific tasks, but things in life that can be outsourced will pop up at random for most of us. Think about all the little tasks and chores you have to do that take up mindshare that don’t require any special skill.
For things like that, having a Virtual Assistant is priceless. They can serve as a catchall for a lot of tasks and once you have the relationship with them, you can just text them what you need. I think everyone should have a VA and you can get one for $5/hour online.
How to start outsourcing
So if you’re ready to try outsourcing something, I would take the following steps.
1. Make a list of stuff you don’t want to do
Jot down a couple things you want to outsource to someone else. These could be a group of small tasks that you want someone else to do for you or it can be a larger project. I know someone planning a cross country road trip right now and their using an outsourced person to find and book accommodations for them.
Write down the details of the tasks, including what you want the final deliverable to be. You’ll need this for the next step. Here’s an example of a write up a did for the Pinterest task.
2. Go find someone on Upwork or Fiverr
On Upwork, you can post a short write up of what you’re looking for and people will bid on doing the work. You can see the reviews people have before you hire them. This is where I would go if I wanted to find a Virtual Assistant or someone to take over cold emails for me.
You can also look on Fiverr to see if anyone will do a specific task for $5 - $10. That’s where I found the Pinterest pin creaters who are crazy fast. You can also get some fun stuff on Fiverr, like having someone create an Avatar of you for $5.
I’ve personally had the most success with hiring people from Eastern Europe, The Phillippines, Mexico, and Argentina. I know other people that work with people in India, but the 12-hour time difference is inconvenient for me, personally.
If you live in the US, one interesting thing about hiring someone in Europe or Asia is that they’re working while you’re sleeping. You’ll wake up to completed tasks that you didn’t have to do.
3. Assess your results
Once you outsource, it’s feedback time! You’ll see how specific and clear you were in your request. Getting the results back is kind of like opening up a present because you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get. But you’ll learn from it, get better in the future, and you’ll be increasing your productivity along the way.
For ongoing tasks, like a VA, it might make sense to find a couple of people you can outsource to so that you can compare results and assess who you want to work with in the future. I gave that Fiverr Pinterest assignment to multiple people on Fiverr… almost like an interview / demo process.
💥 Actions you can take
Go find a Virtual Assistant on Upwork and have them support you with the little tasks that suck your time up during the day.
Pick something fun to outsource to someone on Fiverr so you can see how much you like outsourcing.
🌟 Other things you might find inspiring this week
Tadej Pogačar just won the Tour de France and he’s the second youngest person in history to do it. He was actually falling behind in the standings, then crushed it the day before the finals. It’s another great lesson in resiliency.
That’s it for this week! Hit me up if you have any thoughts, feedback, or insights to share.
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