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Outsourcing 101 For Small Business

by Kristy Smith 21 Jun 2016

Bringing on a Virtual Assistant, or VA into your small to medium business is a new concept for most people. As a business owner you may feel a little inexperienced or self concious about the unknown, and this may be holding you back from exploring all the brilliant benefits and advantages that getting a good VA can offer.

We want everyone to feel well-educated and confident when it comes to delegating your work to a VA. So below we’ve answered the who, what, when, why and how of outsourcing. Giving you the information you need to make measured and well informed decisions on the growth and success of your business.

What is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing means just what is says - going “outside” of your internal resources to"source" what you need for your business. In terms of this article we use outsourcing in reference to seeking and employing the assistance of virtual onshore or offshore service providers that work within your company on a day to day or per project basis.

Whether you want a single virtual assistant, or a whole team of virtual workers at your disposal – outsourcing now makes this possible for small business.

Why Outsource?

The ability to tap into and leverage human potential, particularly people with the right skills and experience, can enhance the agility, productivity and competitiveness of your business. If done well, business outsourcing is an affordable way to create the space in your business to strategise on profitable activities, allowing you to scale and grow your operations.

Outsourcing virtually, whether local or international, is also much more affordable than having an on-site employee – giving you direct access to a enormous collective of experienced and talented personnel who are well versed in working virtually and providing assistance to their clients.

Who is Outsourcing?

With new technologies and the rise of online and cloud based SaaS almost any soloist, small business owner or entrepreneur can access and benefit from outsourced services. Outsourcing is no longer the dominion of massive global companies. Start-ups and established business alike are using outsourcing to grow and manage their online commercial operations

Where to Outsource?

When looking to outsource, one of the most important decisions is whether to go onshore, nearshore or offshore.

Onshore: Keeping things local by employing an onshore contractor gives you direct access to your service supplier and real time communication – but it comes with the onshore price tag which can be anywhere from 2 – 5 times the offshore amount.

Nearshore: Meaning an international virtual worker, but still close to your country, sharing a similar time-zone and language skills for better communication. Nearshore hourly rates are also comparable to offshore rates.

Offshore: This usually refers to teams in a very distant country, like outsourcing heavyweights such as Philippines and India. Whilst you will find the lowest hourly and project rates here, you may run into communication and language barriers.

When to Outsource?

Most business owners will instinctively know when the time has come to seek assistance in their business. You may find yourself overwhelmed with a workload too big for you and your existing team to manage OR you many need services outside your scope or experience such as web design or SEO in order to stay competitive in your industry. Basically – if your business is on the precipice of growth – it’s time to outsource. It is easy to grow or decrease your team when you use outsourced labour - virtual outsourcing is a great way to stay agile and scale your business depending on the market and your needs at any given time.

How to Outsource?

In order to employ a virtual or remote contractor there are several key issues you need to address:

Preparation: Consider whether your business is “VA Ready”. By this we mean have you identified the core tasks you want your VA to manage for you, have you created a process for each of these tasks so the VA is supported when they start (see point below), have you got enough time in the initial stages of bringing on the VA to dedicate to inducting the VA into your business. Remember, a supported VA is the best kind! You can find some tips on how to do this step in our quick video series here.

Systems & Programs: Organising your business to facilitate a VA is no easy task. You need to fully systemise and document the role or project you want to outsource, ensuring that you have provided a concise and easy to understand brief for your new contractor. Then you need to set up the programs that they’ll be using – making certain that all information and resources are accessible and sharable between yourself and your team.

Hiring: Sourcing, interviewing and finding the right candidate who fits your business is a crucial step and one that generally is not done very well. You need to consider not just the skills of the VA but also the cultural fit and personality to ensure you are well suited to work together. There are also many places you can source your VA, freelance sites, companies like Virtual Elves or through recommendations of other business owners. Either way you need to spend a good amount of time really screening the candidates to make sure you have the right match.

Implementation: Once you’ve vetted and decided upon the right VA and set up the necessary systems and programs you then have the task of training and handing over the role to your new worker. This is particularly important if you are considering hiring a Virtual Assistant or the like to work in your business on an ongoing basis. Ideally you need to spend a lot of time in the first two weeks guiding and communicating your exact needs. Similarly, if you are briefing a graphic designer or web technician you need to ensure that you have communicated your vision clearly and have the time to follow up on their work.


If you know your business is ready for outsourcing but don’t know where to start an outsourcing service provider like Virtual Elves should be your first point of call. We are able to support you through the process so you feel in control, well educated and understanding of how to work with a virtual assistant.

We only recruit the best skilled people for YOUR needs and make sure you have the systems and processes in place BEFORE that contractor starts with you. We are confident then the relationship will be well geared for long term success!

Learn more – visit our home page.



Kristy Smith is the founder of Virtual Elves, and has worked with many businesses helping them to develop the strategies, methods and tools for effective outsourcing.  She shows them how, with outsourcing, they can scale, grow and be profitable. She is known for her ability to see how businesses can operate in a more efficient way, and for walking business owners through the process. She uses her own business growth, mistakes and lessons learnt to give hands-on practical strategies that can be implemented immediately.

Virtual Elves started 6 years ago with just Kristy at the helm and now boasts an international team of over 25 virtual assistants, graphic designers, web developers and other various contractors and now growing at a rate of 5 assistants per month.
Prior to founding Virtual Elves, Kristy managed large teams and implemented front office processes and customer service training for private hospitals and 5-star hotels. A mother of two, she lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her husband and family.

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