One of the questions I get asked a lot from small business owners is, “What tasks can I outsource?”
Without a doubt, there’s a LOT of things to do when you are a small business owner – whether you’re a solo-preneur or run a micro or small business. However often smaller business owners don’t have the budget to be able to employ help on a full-time or even part-time basis.
This is where “outsourcing” can be so helpful. Outsourcing simply means that you hire freelancers, contractors or other business owners to do certain tasks for you. This could be anything from hiring a graphic designer for a one-off design project to hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) who helps with your admin assistance on a weekly basis, as needed.
In answer to that often-asked question of “What tasks can I outsource?” I’ve created a video for you. It’s called 101 Tasks You Can Outsource and – not surprisingly – I talk you through 101 tasks that many business can be, and should be, outsourcing.
I know this sort of “list” in a video can be handy to have as a text document too. So if you would prefer a summary of these 101 tasks you can download, click the link below to download the PDF summary:
I sincerely hope you find this helpful and that it helps you to develop and grow your business.
As a small business owner, the biggest challenge is usually not so much in knowing what to do. After all, you have probably studied as much as you can and looked into finding what needs to be done next. The biggest challenge for many is having the time to get everything done.
If you’re like many other small business owners, you probably have a schedule that is full of tasks, projects, meetings, and marketing plans that need to be done. This can cause a lot of stress, especially when you don’t achieve all you set out to each day. This often leads to moving the un-done tasks from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s, putting you behind schedule tomorrow before the day even begins!
The good news is that there are only five actions you need to complete to get more done each and every day, so that you still have time to spend on yourself.
Yes, just 5.
That is what you want, isn’t it? You want to get business stuff done without feeling overwhelmed, leaving you some time for yourself, your family and your friends.
It is extremely important that you know and understand which of your tasks must be completed, and which can be put to the side to be completed at another date or not completed at all (at least not by you).
Even if you don’t think you have it, set aside about two hours. During the first hour make a list of everything that you do daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Make sure you include everything including the small things such as posting to Facebook and checking email to the big things such as tracking your expenses and paying your bills.
Once your list is complete, spend the next hour prioritizing your list.
Break it down into three categories:
When your lists are finished you will easily be able to determine which tasks you must get done to productively move forward in your business and which are only keeping busy without any productive movement.
Take your list of tasks that must get done and delegate what you can to your team.
First, decide which tasks you want to complete because they fall into your skill sets. Do not decide to complete tasks simply because you feel you are the only one who can do them well. If you enjoy writing blog articles, then write them. But, if you are better at managing a team and communicating with customers, then do that.
Next, find out which tasks each team member has the skill set for (if you don’t already know) and ask them to complete that task. If you do not have a large team, that is fine, you can still find someone else to complete that task. There are plenty of outsourcing opportunities and websites to help with this.
Do you find yourself obsessing over your email, constantly checking it, or feeling overwhelmed by your full inbox? You are not alone. Millions of business owners feel just like you when it comes to email.
The best thing you can do to help reduce your overwhelm is to schedule time into your calendar for checking email. You may have to test a few different time slots to find what works best for you, but once you do, your whole email experience will change.
Once you have decided on a time, stick with your schedule (use a timer when you first start). Your clients will get used to your schedule, and you will have less overwhelm.
If you’re finding that it’s not possible to reply to all of your emails in a small, set time, or if your business is one in which you must reply to emails more often, look at hiring someone – or outsourcing to someone – who can manage these emails. A Virtual Assistant (VA) can be ideal for this role.
Microsoft Outlook and excel are common software programs while your smartphone is a common piece of technology that you probably use on a daily basis. How much do you really know about using these items?
You may use them and enjoy their functions, but do you know all the shortcuts available to you? Microsoft Outlook (and other email services), for example, provide quick shortcuts for adding appointments and meetings directly to your calendar. Instead of using these shortcuts you may be manually entering each event and appointment into your calendar. (This is one of those tasks that you could delegate.)
You may also be missing some helpful apps on your smartphone such as Evernote or your favorite to-do list. You’ll be able to get more done if you spend a bit of time learning how to fully take advantage of what technology has to offer. Once you embrace technology and a few time-saving apps, you may wonder how you manged without it!
As you complete each of the actions above, make sure you schedule time to reflect and review upon what you have done. A weekly, monthly, and quarterly review of what worked and what didn’t can truly help take your business forward with great force.
Do you ever feel like you waste a lot of work time simply maintaining processes that could be automated? Chances are they can be. Here are 5 of my favourite, free or low-cost online tools for productivity. These can help make your business more streamlined and efficient.
(NB: I’ve included affiliate links in some of these recommendations below. So if you purchase a product via these links I may receive a commission or a discount on my own renewal of that product, or in some cases these links allow you to receive a discount or free trial. Either way however, I only recommend products I believe in and use myself).
A password manager like LastPass helps to save both time and frustration associated with keeping a large number of unique, secure passwords. You know that you shouldn’t reuse a password for multiple accounts or use a recognizable word or date. But the truth is it’s simply too difficult for most people to remember dozens of random passwords unless you write them down—another no-no.
So LastPass allows you to maintain secure passwords without needing to remember them yourself. You simply set up one master password for the app, and that’s the only one you need to remember. That way you no longer need to waste time resetting forgotten passwords, and unlike the password managers that come with most browsers, LastPass syncs across devices.
You may find the free version of LastPass is sufficient however if you create an account via this link, you’ll receive 1 month free access to the Premium version so you can test out the additional features too.
Dropbox is another major time saver. Because it allows you to store your documents in the cloud, you can access them wherever you are without the need for emailing them to yourself. And you can securely provide access to your team or partners, as well.
Cloud storage services like Dropbox conveniently allow you to work with team members and independent contractors across time zones. And each of you always has the most recent version of the document. As a bonus, cloud servers can save you a huge amount of money versus requiring an IT infrastructure for your business.
Skype offers a set of features that take care of all of your business (and personal) communication needs, without the cost of a VoIP phone system. It’s a robust communications platform where you can chat, send instant messages, translate messages in multiple languages, make phone calls, and engage in video conference calls.
With Skype, you can keep your team in contact and build a shared culture even if you work remotely. It even offers a range of emojis to add expression to your communications. For a fee, you can also use Skype to make audio and video calls to non-users, meaning you don’t need a separate calling system for your business.
Carbonite is an online computer backup service. Signing up with Carbonite allows you to backup an unlimited number of computers to a hybrid cloud and local backup system. It automatically and securely stores every file you add or change, and you don’t need to do anything.
Why use online backup? It provides an extra layer of protection to your onsite data backup. If you experience an onsite security breach or natural disaster, you can lose all the data that was not stored offsite. And since it doesn’t take any time to use, it makes an effective security strategy.
The other thing I love about Carbonite is that when I upgrade to a new computer I can easily import my files to that new computer.
There are other similar services too. Carbonite is the one I’ve been using and very happy with for the last few years, although I’ve heard good things about Nero and Mozy too.
Have you ever been doing research and come across an interesting article or video online? It happens to all of us, and the temptation to stop working to satisfy our curiosity can be intense. Or perhaps you have come across a useful piece of business advice that you simply don’t have the time to read at the moment.
That’s where Pocket comes in handy because it saves any content you wish for later viewing on any device. You can even view the content where you don’t have internet access. Pocket is the perfect way to make sure you don’t miss out on articles, videos, and other content.
But perhaps more importantly, it can help you stay focused on the task you’re meant to be focusing on at the time!
Start utilizing these five tools and you’ll immediately see a difference in your productivity levels. You’ll save time, reduce frustration, and decrease the chances of forgetting important passwords or information. And they’re all affordable for small businesses.