You met online. You were hesitant and unsure at first. There were so many questions, so much to consider. You weren’t exactly sure what you were looking for, but you had some ideas. You knew ultimately you were looking for someone who could meet your needs. Isn’t that the way all great relationships work? And so you took the plunge. You clicked on that link and started down the path of outsourcing work for your business.
It’s hard though. There’s no manual out there on choosing the right outsourcing partner for your business. It’s not something you learned from your parents. You didn’t go to school for it and you didn’t take “Finding A Business Outsourcing Partner 101” in college. So how do you go about it?
Thankfully we’re here to help at Principle Strategies. We have years of experience in outsourcing and partnering with businesses and have learned some tough lessons. We know intimately the joys of techs. We understand the nitty gritty of business relationships. We’ve researched. We’ve talked to both clients and business owners. We’ve been on both sides of the outsourcing relationship. And we’ve come up with five key things to consider when finding a company with which to outsource your business.
- Steer clear of speed dating. When you launch into search mode for that right outsourcing partner, take your time to get it right. Develop a list of what you are looking for in an outsourcing partner to help guide your search. Ask around. Check with people you do business with and your accountant, banker and others you are in contact with to see if they know the right people you are looking to hire. Hit up contacts on your social media network. There are also online tools to help you find the right partner.
- Communication. This is absolutely essential to the success — or failure — of any relationship, whether it’s personal or business. It starts with your very first contact with your company’s prospective outsourcing partner. Do you feel like they are listening to you and completely understand your needs? Are they responsive to your phone calls, or emails, or other forms of communication? Again, it’s not just being responsive in a timely manner that’s important. It’s also whether or not you have the sense that your potential partner consistently conveys an understanding of exactly what it is you are seeking. Keep things out in the open from the beginning, be honest and expect honesty from the other side.
- Share intimate details. We’re not saying on the first meeting to take your prospective partner back to your office and show them your company’s financials. But share what prompted you to reach out to them. Maybe it’s a decision to, for example, farm out human resources or marketing work that you’ve been wrestling with. Say why you think outsourcing the specific task is best for your company. Listen closely to the response. Are they hearing you? Does it sound like they are tailoring a response to fit your needs or are they just more or less whispering sweet nothings.
- Don’t fall for love at first sight. Do your homework on the company or person you’re looking to hire for outsourcing. Start with finding out how long have they been working in their field and their experience. Depending on what kind of work you are outsourcing, check their portfolio. How long have they been involved in outsourcing work and are they experienced? Ask about success stories. Do they keep their clients? Ask for references and follow up by contacting them.
- Define the relationship. Yes, you want to have the “DTR” talk. As you are finalizing the outsourcing decision, communicate your expectations clearly. The worst thing that can happen is making an assumption you are being understood when actually there’s a bit of confusion. Spell things out succinctly and clearly and make sure your outsourcing partner has clarity on the work. Be prepared for some minor speed bumps as well once the outsourcing work is started and handle them quickly and gracefully.
Now you’re ready to take the plunge into outsourcing business work. As additional help, we’ve got some links to some online outsourcing resources for you.
—Here’s an informative article from Entrepreneur magazine titled, “How To Build A Better Business With Outsourcing” in a piece that’s the comprehensive guide on the what, when and how to outsource for your small business. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204652
—Writer Lisa A. Maini tackles how to hire a firm for outsourcing in this article titled, “Find An Outsourcing Company & Watch Your Business Grow” in about.com: http://sbinformation.about.com/cs/bestpractices/a/outsource_2.htm
—Contributor David Teten tackles hiring out outsourcing work in this article titled, “How To Hire An Outsourced Web Designer And Survive The Process” that’s in forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidteten/2013/10/07/how-to-hire-an-outsourced-web-designer-and-be-happy-with-the-results/