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The Outsourcing Process: Team Leaders

This is a copy of an article written for The Net Effect

The Next Step in Your Outsourcing Process To Get Your Virtual Dream Team On Task and Running Your Business Without You!

My biggest take-away from Live 10 last month was the concept of “team leaders”.  Over the last few years I have made it a practice to outsource as much as possible.  This last month I was finally able to out-task one of the last steps of my routine tasks to my assistant and what a relief!  As I write this I am traveling with my family (my husband and 7 children) for a month long vacation!  We are driving through the beautiful mountains of Mexico on our way to Guadalajara.  After that we will be stopping for a few days in Mazatlan before making our way to the states! I do this knowing that my business is in the good capable hands of my two project managers!  Learning to out-task your business and replace yourself is not something that is easily done.  It is a process and something that takes time to learn, but once learned, the benefits are great!

Is your business completely dependent on YOU?

If it does, then you know what you have to do!  You have heard it before, outsource!  Recently a family member was seeking some advice on how to start a business based on an idea she had.  The problem was, she wanted to basically give someone a check to develop her idea for her and then just enjoy the profit.  My response was, “Don’t we all!”  In reality things don’t work like that.  The biggest mistake business owners make when they start outsourcing is that they try to hire one person to do all the tasks of the business owner.  You either have to pay someone a whole lot of money to be YOU and do YOUR responsibilities, or you take the risk of everything being done incorrectly and you have to do it all over again with several different hires.

So what can we outsource or out-task?

Almost everything.  But to different people.

Step one is to break your project down into different tasks.  Let’s say you want to write and sell an eBook.  This one project can be assigned to multiple people.  One person can write the eBook.  Another can create the graphics and design.  Another can edit and proofread it.  Another can create the landing page sales page graphics.  Another can write the sales copy for the landing page.  Still another can program website and install the shopping cart and email auto-responder series.  Each of these pieces of the puzzle of the project can be easily outsourced.  It is your job as the business owner to map out the strategy and process and to put all the pieces together!  Once you have a good project manager, your project manager can make sure your vision is carried out!

The second step is to clearly define the project and your expectations to the people you are outsourcing to.  It is not enough to say you want an eBook.  You need to specify the page length, the target market (who they are writing to), the call to action at the end of the eBook, if you want double or single spaced, if it is a How To Guide or an informative history lesson and so on.  Also know that everyone is different.  You can provide the same instructions to ten different people and get ten completely different projects back all of them having some how interpreted your instructions in a different way!

The third step is to set a deadline and to check and review the work before allowing them to get too far ahead into the project.  A lot of times the people you hire on oDesk or other outsourcing sites are juggling multiple clients.  You want your project to take precedence so you can test your new hire out and either give them new work or go on to the next person.

As you do steps one to three, keep track of any problems or issues your outsourcing staff had.  Record their questions in video or How To Guide form.  Keep all your training material in an easy to access central location such as a specific project in Basecamp or ActiveCollab.  When you hire new people, instead of having to create new training material from scratch, you can give them access to your training guides and just tell them to go read the training guides you have created.  Another way to do this is to set up a series of auto-responder emails.  Every time you hire a new writer for example, add them to your email list.  Your training can be automatically delivered to them via email.  If you have created videos or powerpoints with audio, you can add your training material to a private membership site for your staff only!  You can set it up so your new hires can automatically access everything or you can set it up so that each of them will receive specific daily training for the exact tasks you have hired them for.

Most business owners only require a few staff members to execute their online marketing.  It usually begins with a writer.  A link builder or publisher soon follows.  And eventually a full-time webmaster and graphic designer come in handy.  It is much easier to get things done quickly when your virtual staff is on-demand to your projects and you don’t have to continually look for and train new people.  Pretty soon five or more virtual workers are reporting to you and all looking for their next assignment!  This soon becomes a full-time job for you! Instead of outsourcing or out-tasking becoming an easy thing that frees up your time, your virtual staff require new projects, feedback about their current assignments, or help resolving roadblocks on their current tasks.  Once this happens, it is time for a project manager!

A project manager can usually not be hired, but rather someone that you can train from within your company.  One tip here: When looking to hire a project manager or to train someone to eventually become your project manager, look for someone that knows English and Excel.  The workers that are experienced in SEO, link building, and writing, are not necessarily the best for the position of project manager.  A project manager does not even have to know a lot about SEO in the beginning.  Their job is to follow up with your staff and make sure the work is being completed on time.  They also act as an intermediary and trouble shoot any problems that arise.

When your team grows to sufficient size to warrant it, you will soon find that there are not enough hours in the day for your project managers to get things done!  When that happens it is time to teach them to delegate!  Developing leaders within your organization is not as easy as it sounds.  Not all people can delegate easily and not all workers can supervise effectively other workers.  Just because your project manager can supervise and manage five people does not mean they can supervise and manage 30.  Also the team that you build in the beginning of your business may not be the team you need to build your business further.

Just as you took the time to develop your project manager, it is now time to develop your team leaders! A team leader has a variety of responsibilities including hiring and firing new workers.  This is tricky as this is something even your project manager may not have done before!  But once your organization reaches a certain level, spending time hiring, interviewing, and training new workers is not the best of the business owner’s time.  You can have a team leader for writers, a team leader for web assistants or publishers, and a team leader for your webmasters and graphic designers.  The team leader should be a member of the team also.  In other words, your team leader for writers should also be a writer themselves so that they understand all of the procedures that need to be followed.

When you are looking for new team leaders look for workers with initiative.  Workers you can trust.  On the day I left for my month long vacation my project manager and a web assistant organized a meeting with 14 of our writers.  The web assistant was getting frustrated with the writers not following procedures and she asked permission to organize a meeting to talk to all of them about exactly what the web assistants needed from the writers so that they could more easily do their jobs.  The meeting was a huge success with a lot of participation from all and the best part about it was that I did not have to do anything.  My participation was not needed or required!

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, the next step is usually to get systems and procedures in place so that you can outsource or out-task some of your routine duties.  Remember, if you can pay someone x amount of dollars to do that task, and you choose to do that task, then you are earning that x amount of dollars!

If you are on the fence about outsourcing, now is the time to get off!  Make a decision that 2011 is going to be the year you build your virtual dream team of workers so that you can get more done faster!

More information on The Net Effect is available on their website

Nicole Munoz is an SEO expert, mom of 7 kids, and missionary wife that runs her business from Puebla, Mexico.  Get your virtual team up and running in record time with her newest venture SEOTrainingMaterials.com.  If you are interested in full service SEO work with an emphasis on link building, check out her website www.StartRankingNow.com.

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