How Delegation and Outsourcing Can Relieve Your Occupational Stress
Sarah Banks of Banks’ Business Solutions provides outsourced support to sole traders and small businesses. She has been providing admin and marketing support to Body Mechanics for just over two years, so we know first hand how valuable getting support is.
This article is aimed at those with small business or who work alone and are looking at how they can relieve some of the stress associated with being a business owner.
In the corporate world, it’s natural to delegate, indeed it’s encouraged. It’s widely understood that working as a team, with the best individual for each task doing their work to the best of their ability, enables projects to be completed successfully. It doesn’t matter what the industry, whether it’s a café, a hospital or a firm of solicitors, this is the working practice we’ve come to accept as best practice.
But in the world of self-employment, we’re no longer part of a team with a manager for support and colleagues to share the workload with. We’ve stepped out on our own and often, that means we feel we have to do everything alone. There’s a tendency to take on every task ourselves, whether we know how to do it or not, whether we have the time to do it or not, and this is a major source of stress for the self-employed and freelance community.
Around 60% of new businesses fail within five years, and 20% of that number within the first year. Commonly cited reasons for these failures are a lack of business plan and poor cash flow, but there’s one factor that doesn’t get talked about so much - stress.
"Outsourcing is simply delegating your business tasks to another business or freelancer."
There's so much to do and only one person to do it, that stress does increase when you're self-employed or a freelancer. From finding the work to completing it, to dealing with invoicing and chasing late payments, to making mistakes along the way; there are many stress-generating activities in our day to day lives and it can feel impossible at times.
But it doesn't have to be that way. You might not be part of a team anymore, but you can create your own team, and you can do that through outsourcing.
Outsourcing is simply delegating your business tasks to another business or freelancer, and yes, it can seem scary entrusting your business activities to someone else, but the benefits of doing so can relieve the stress and make your business stronger as a result.
Remember that you're not delegating to employees, but seasoned professionals and business owners just like yourself, so, trusting in their abilities to do the job well and in their own way, is something I always emphasise with my clients.
Outsourcings vs hiring - how to get it right
It can be stressful going through the outsourcing process and finding the right people to make up your business team, so here are some key considerations to bear in mind:
Understand IR35 regulations
If you’re hiring someone and treating them as an employee, but paying them as a contractor, you might be falling foul of IR35 regulations. In a nutshell who you outsource to, should set their own hours, methods of working, be able to outsource that work themselves if needed (i.e., it’s what they do you’re paying for, not the individual), and the arrangement ends when the work is complete. The regulations do come with some costly fines so make sure you understand them thoroughly, and check with your accountant for their advice.
Ensure your freelancer is properly setup
It can be scary entrusting your business activities to someone else, but do you know how to tell if they’re prepared for the job? Working from home has become the norm, so don’t be concerned if you see their kitchen or living room on camera, but do ensure they have insurance, a contract that covers you both, a good understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, and that they offer their own ideas and suggestions on ways to make it happen.
Remember, you’re outsourcing to a professional not an employee.
Understand what you can outsource
Really, any part of your business can be outsourced to a freelancer or other small business owner. Some of my clients outsource the tasks they hate, others outsource the tasks that take them a long time to complete, others will outsource additional services to a freelancer so they can offer their clients more, like SEO services if you’re a web designer, for example.
Consider what’s causing you the most stress in your work life right now.
- Is it not enough time or energy to get everything done?
- Is it not having the skills or knowledge to complete essential tasks?
- Do you simply want to devote your entire work hours to your clients and outsource everything else?
The answers to these questions should guide you toward the kinds of tasks that are ideal for outsourcing for your business. Generally, tasks can be split into the following areas:
Administrative – from getting the books done to data entry, audio transcription and taking minutes of zoom meetings. There are a wide range of admin-based tasks that can be outsourced from your business, usually to a Virtual Assistant who specialises in that area.
Customer support – from client follow-ups to virtually answering the phone, if you have a lot of clients who regularly contact you for support or further information, this can be a huge drain on your time. A customer support assistant can help you streamline your processes, or take care of some of these tasks for you.
Marketing – email newsletters, social media, website design and support, search engine optimisation, advertising, etc there are so many marketing tasks to contend with, that marketing is one of the most commonly outsourced areas. This is where I personally outsource the most, as I’d spend too much time on this and I’m not a marketing expert!
As an online business manager, I help business owners save time by simplifying the technology they use, but also by identifying the tasks they can outsource and how to find the right freelancer or business to ensure this delegation is a success. I guide my clients through what they’re trying to achieve and the best way for them to do that, in alignment with their own values and goals.
I’d love to help you save time, resources and free yourself from some of the stresses of being self-employed through delegation. To find out more, why not hop on a call with me and see what you could achieve through outsourcing.