How to Expand Your Business for Half the Cost

Outsourcing work to overseas staff is a great way to grow your business for a fraction of what it would cost to hire local staff. Not only does outsourcing overseas make economical sense, but you’re giving opportunity and experience to people who may not be given such opportunities in their local communities.

Outsourcing and globalization of manufacturing allows companies to reduce costs, benefits consumers with lower cost goods and services, causes economic expansion that reduces unemployment, and increases productivity and job creation. - Larry Elder

While working with overseas workers can grow your business inexpensively, the process can bring a set of challenges unique to the virtual office environment. In this article, I’ll go over some lessons I’ve learnt by employing a handful of overseas workers over several years.

Some of the questions this article will cover include:

  • How to hire the best overseas staff easily and quickly?

  • What are the costs involved in hiring overseas workers?

  • Why should I outsource tasks overseas?

  • What are the best tools to help me work more effectively with my overseas staff?

  • How can I start outsourcing overseas?

Why outsource?

Let me start by saying it is smart to outsource tasks to overseas workers. Not only are you changing the lives of people in developing countries, but you’re also able to get things done for considerably less than it would cost for local staff or freelancers.

"If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you're putting yourself out of business." Lee Kuan Yew

In my own business, I have found overseas staff to be an invaluable asset. While my day job is working for Freelancer.com, my overseas staff handle the day to day running of my business. Not only are these staff giving me more time, but they’re also doing a better job than I would be able to do.

Tips to Start Outsourcing Overseas / A Word to the Wise

Tip #1: Test Task.

Tim Ferriss, a pioneer in the global freelance space, said this years ago: When you find a promising freelancer, test them before giving them the job.

Why?

So you can make sure the freelancer is suitable for the bigger task.

One of the advantages of outsourcing overseas is that it is contractual basis. Take advantage of this by offering 2-3 hour tasks before proposing.

Here are some examples of things that I have done in the past:

  • Before I hire a graphics designer to design an application interface, I ask them to first create the application icon.

  • Before I hire a customer service representative, I provide them with 5 questions that they must answer as they would if I was the customer.

  • Before I hire a blog manager, I ask them to detail how they will drive traffic to the blog.

By giving test tasks, I can gauge the freelancer’s time management, his or her work quality and if he or she will work well with the other employees. If the freelancer passes the trial task, then I offer the freelancer the position.

Tip #2 - Attitude matters.

Skills are important, but attitude is just as important. You want to hire reliable, conscientious employees. This is especially crucial if you are just starting your business and you are developing processes on the fly.

“We can change skill levels through training, but we can’t change attitude." - Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO. 

I have found freelancers based in the Philippines to have the perfect attitude: eager to please, hard-working and reliable.

Tip #3: Set Clear Expectations

When hiring overseas, make sure you have a clear outline of what tasks you expect your freelancer to handle. This can save you a lot of unnecessary friction later on.

Before posting your job on Freelancer.com, make sure all potential recruits are aware of the tasks that you need them to do. If you’re not sure, then rethink posting your project.

For example, if you are looking for a logo for your business, have an idea of what you need the logo to say, the rough size, colours and examples of logos that you like. You may also want the logo to be used for business cards, letterheads and social media profiles.

Like local staff, without clear guidance, the overseas worker will likely struggle to perform to your satisfaction.

Tip #4: Tools to Make Your Lives Easier

The virtual office is a unique environment that depends on cloud based computing to get things done. Here are some of the best tools employers use to communicate and work with overseas contractors:

  • Google Sheets: Cloud based spreadsheets including with gmail for free.

  • Skype: Instant Messaging, Voice and Video Chat over the Internet.

  • Freelancing platform: Use this to pay, manage and communicate with your employee.

Paid applications such as Highrise, Wufoo & Asana can help manage employees and projects, but are usually only necessary when you are managing several overseas workers. At time of writing, I have 5 overseas staff and have just started to use Highrise to manage employees.

Tip #5: Be prepared to pay in $USD

$USD is the standard currency when hiring overseas workers. This is true regardless of the country that you or your freelancer reside. For example, many of my contractors are in the Philippines while I am in Australia; I pay in $USD and they receive in $USD.

Freelancer.com handles these transactions for employers, where employers need only provide their payment method, such as their Visa, Mastercard or bank details.

Tip #6: The Best Tasks to Outsource

Almost any task that does not require physical presence can be outsourced. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Writing & content marketing.

  • Website design and development.

  • Application development.

  • Graphic design.

  • Social media management.

  • Data entry.

  • Virtual assistance (like a personal assistant, but in a different country).

In my own business, my staff handle customer service, order management, website management, human resources and graphic design.  

Outsourcing enables you to get more done at very competitive rates.

Summary: Change lives by outsourcing

Outsourcing tasks to overseas workers is a trend that smart business owners are taking advantage of to get more work done for less. In addition to the increased output, employers are changing lives by hiring people from countries all over the world. While hiring overseas workers can seem intimidating at first, I hope this guide helps you hire overseas workers with confidence.

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