Outsourced: Not the Show

Blue Gypsy Inc has grown so much in it’s one year of existence. This is a wonderful thing! This time last year I sent my first proposal out into the world and was busy getting my company name Blue Gypsy, incorporated.

Now I have several happy clients who keep me very busy. I’m not complaining! In this economy it’s so nice to be needed and wanted, and actually lead management should be the business of the future. All businesses should be focusing on how they are going to engage and retain a clientele and provide excellent customer service while meeting their needs. That’s what I do, take care of my clients’ clients.

However in order to continue to give the top notch service my clients expect, I need to be more organized. I need to prioritize. And in some cases I need to replicate myself.

I don’t have the resources to hire a full time, or even a part time employee. I don’t have enough work to make it worth someone’s while. I can’t pay enough money for someone who possesses potentially 5 different skill sets. And I don’t have time to train someone.

But I do need someone who can do the repetitive work I do, such as sending out template emails, transferring leads to data bases, looking into my computer files and organizing them, setting up leads on campaigns, and even researching certain topics and companies that may be of benefit to my clients. Later on I may need someone who can help with copy writing and more creative stuff, but on a very limited basis. As my business continues to grow I might need someone who can set up new accounts, and get them started, learn their data bases etc.

The problem is, it’s hard enough for me to do it all myself, much less to ask someone else to have all the same skill sets, and explain, oh, I don’t know how often I’ll need you, what kind of thing I need you to do, I won’t have time to train you, and I can’t pay you much. That just wouldn’t fly with most people looking for a job.

However my situation is a perfect experiment for Outsourcing.

Yes you hear people complain that all the jobs are being outsourced to India. Some say it’s not fair, some people blame the collapse of the economy due in part to outsourcing. I agree to the point that when large corporations outsource 100’s if not 1000’s of jobs overseas because the guys at the top make huge bank, and the stock holders want to see huge profits, this is a sad situation for middle America who depended on those jobs to live.

But for small little one woman businesses like me, this is a great opportunity to get the help I need to grow my business to the point where I may be able to actually hire an employee, but for now, I can get someone who works fast, and can do the things I need for an affordable rate that works well for my small start up company.

I did some research online and came up with a company called Talent Gurus. They have a lot of different expertise, and I wanted to know more. So I filled out their online information sheet, and less then a half hour I got an email from Heidi. She was very nice on email and set up a phone call. When she called me and I gave her all the criteria I was looking for, she explained (in a very easy to understand accent…please get rid of the stereo type that you can’t understand people from India) that what I would really be getting was several people with different focused skills to do the things I needed to have done.

When I asked about hours for training since there were a number of different database programs I worked with, she explained that I didn’t have to provide the time nor did I need to pay for the training.

I can purchase as many or as few hours as possible, and if I don’t use all those hours in a month, they will roll over to the next month.

I can split the hours up any way I like and I can get time progress reports to see how long it takes to do a certain task assigned. The more Heidi talked the more excited I became, because this was exactly what I needed to take some of the stress off. I dreaded some of the routine things that needed to be done in order to maintain my leads, because with more and more clients, I needed to be on the phone more and more. There were just not enough hours in the day. And as my time becomes more valuable, I have to find ways to replicate myself.

So I signed on, for my 20 hour experiment. Heidi called me back and introduced me to Nancy. She is my executive assistant, she can take care of data entry, organization, and more! I created a detailed step by step set of instructions for transferring leads from my email, into my database and assigning them to a task, campaign or follow up plan. Then she filed them all away, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to slowly see the back log leave my in box and go where it was meant to be.

I thought this task might take her 5 hours. It was so exciting to see that she did it in 3 hours and it was very accurate and well executed.

Sure there were minor glitches, but hey it’s her first day in my data base. I didn’t have to pay to train her, she simply took my instructions, learned the database and only charged me for the time she put in on the work. She tripled my productivity and what I paid for 3 hours was what less than one hour of my time is worth. (And I calculated had I done that work, it normally would have taken me a couple hours more because of all the interruptions with other things I have to do) She was focused and quick.

One key though, that I read during my research of outsourcing and that I think is a key element that helped Nancy get up to speed quickly is that you need to clearly define the parameters that you want for the work. It’s like creating a mini business plan, the clearer you are in your direction the more accurate the end result will be. I tried to look at every detail in the rote process that I do every day, so that I could break it down and make it as easy as possible. Not because Nancy isn’t smart, I’m sure she is, but being halfway around the world, she isn’t going to easily read my mind. I need to be clear with my goals for the day.

For instance she said, “I’ll make you a spread sheet of all the people….” I stopped her before she could finish. Nope nope nope, no spread sheets, that’s what the database is for. Know what you want, and know what you don’t want. A spread sheet could have easily added unnecessary time and busy work to her day.

I feel like this experiment may turn into a permanent solution. At least until I can generate enough work to justify hiring someone full time.

But for now, outsourcing is helping to alleviate some of my stress and make me more productive.