How to Outsource Your Grunt Work

Don’t have enough time to take care of necessary yet mundane tasks? You could hire an intern, but that seems like such a hassle — because you’ll have to train him. A better option may be to enlist one of several new services that offer temporary help with everything from distributing promotional flyers to assembling office furniture.

In the past, you may have hired a bookkeeper to handle your ledgers, a web guru to manage your website and social media outreach, or a virtual assistant to take care of your correspondence. These days, services like TaskRabbit, Zaarly, and Postmates offer additional types of assistance as needed, such as helping out when you get a sudden influx of business.

TaskRabbit, for example, offers a network of “rabbits” who can help you with virtually anything. You post the job, the deadline, and the price you’d like to pay. Available rabbits nearby respond with bids; you review their profiles and expertise and then hire one.

Of course, outsourcing comes with caveats: You may not be able to find someone in your price range or with the right skills for a particular task. And many services are available only in major metropolitan areas.

Ready to hand off your grunt work? Here are three tips for getting started:

  • Calculate how much your time is worth. Could that hour it takes you to make a delivery across town be better used trying to attract new customers or finishing up a project? Figure out whether it makes financial sense to outsource a particular job.
  • Set clear expectations. Describe your task as specifically as possible, setting goals and a deadline. Before you pick someone, ask questions and gauge his or her ability to complete your job. Has he done this before? Does she have the necessary tools and equipment?
  • Get creative. Outsourcing could be a low-cost way for you to test the waters on a new service, pamper your best clients with a surprise gift, or even meet new partners.

About Ellen Lee

Ellen Lee is a business and technology freelance writer in San Francisco. Reach out to her at ellenleeonline@gmail.com.
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