Saturday, January 1, 2011

Make 2011 Easier - Outsource It!

My goal for 2011 is to find balance. Enjoy the benefits of being an entrepreneur but also to focus on my personal life. Being an entrepreneur requires long hours, dedication, persistence, and delayed gratification. I have been working at this for 8 years now. When you feel like your business is running you, rather than you running your business, it is time to make some changes.

Now, when I say "outsource it," I don't mean give your business to someone else to run. Look at parts of your business that you can outsource or find a "helper" to do. And don't automatically assume that you can't afford it! You will be amazed at how inexpensively it is to get help. If you can free yourself up by paying someone $5 an hour to gain more time where you can use that hour to make $20 or more, the investment is worth it. By outsourcing a few things a week, you can find more time to spend doing more profitable tasks, or to accomplish personal goals or have downtime. Remember this rule:


Let me give you a few examples of tasks I have outsourced this year.

1. Book keeping. I am big on keeping detailed records but it is time consuming and I don't particularly like it. This year I hired an accountant to take care of my monthly Quickbooks, quarterly taxes, etc. The fee is $50 per month. This frees up at least an hour and a half a week for me. That's 6 hours a month that I can be doing what I do best - working with clients, writing, affiliate marketing, working with consignment clients, and sourcing products like books to sell on Amazon. The benefits far outweigh the cost, and this task is being done by a professional who can do it better and faster than I can.

2. Prepping and photographing items. I found someone local who has a much better camera than I do, and she is very creative. She comes over and preps my items (cleans them, irons clothes, takes stickers off, etc) and takes the pictures. There are lots of people out of work who will do this type of thing for $8 an hour or less. They think it is fun. And I can be working with clients, listing more items, or writing articles while my eBay items are magically prepared for me. 3 hours a week is a huge help to me. This allows me to get more items listed faster.

3. Inventory sourcing. I picked up a consignment client this year - a small charity thrift store. I guess you could say I outsourced "looking for inventory." This shop provides a steady stream of high dollar items that I sell for a commission. I choose what I want to work with. Most of the items sell for between $50 and $200. If you charge a 30% commission, you can make $20-$30 an hour doing this. The trick is to approach businesses, not just your friends and family. You want an ongoing relationship with businesses who depend on you for income. Click here for more information on consignment selling.

4. Article writing. I do quite a bit of writing online as a source of income. If you have a blog, write for The Examiner, do article marketing, or write for revenue share sites like Bukisa or HubPages, you can outsource some of this. You can find article writers for about a penny per word. (300 word article for $3.) You can go to the WAHM Writer's forum and place ads to find writers. For a very small investment, you can have income generating content created for you while you do other things. I may pay someone $3-$5 to write an article for me that will contain affiliate links and that article is on the internet forever and will become a passive income stream. (If you love eBay, you can get paid to write about it. Click here to find out how to write for The Examiner.)

5. Marketing. Do you use Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites to market your eBay items or your blog? Outsource it to internet marketers. They will work for $5 an hour. Have them do things like Facebook marketing - adding friends, participating in groups, commenting on photos and posts. It is all about having an internet presence. On Twitter, they can follow your target market, post tweets, and participate in discussions. Have someone do this for you 15 minutes a day. I pay someone $6.25 a week to do social media marketing for me.

6. Shipping. I switched over to the Amazon FBA program and they handle shipping everything I sell on Amazon. This saves me about 30 minutes per day. Click here to read about how the FBA program works and how I quadrupled my profit in just 2 weeks using it. Click here for more information on how to automate and grow your business using Amazon’s FBA program.

7. Personal tasks. Think about what tasks keep you from your work. Cleaning your house? Cooking meals? Running errands? Doing laundry? Grocery shopping? Same as item #2, people are looking for work. Maybe you have a friend who is out of work that can help you out a few hours a week. You don't have to hire a stranger. My photography girl also cooks dinner for us sometimes, either at her house or mine. (And she cleans up, which I love.) If she cooks at her house, I pay her for her time and the groceries, and she brings it over. This saves me time at the most hectic time of my day as a single mom.

Think about what tasks you can outsource to make your life run more smoothly and help your business grow. You are already outsourcing things in your life now if you pay a hairdresser, an exterminator, a baby sitter, a tutor, etc. The only way you can grow your business is to add more people. Try and outsource it!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011!


Unknown said...

Fabulous ideas for outsourcing to free up time for the creative end of your business! I really need to get creative about what I can outsource. Frankly, it's hard to let go of anything, yet things are starting to tumble out of my very full hands, so I need to really get serious about doing this myself. Thanks, Suzanne!

Vanessa said...

I'm in the same boat, selling on Ebay (consignment) almost 7 years now. This year I've really felt overwhelmed and as though I'm losing control of my personal life. I'm trying to make some changes so I really appreciate these tips. They come at just the right time. Thanks so much.