Outsourcing online is easy. Outsourcing efficiently isn’t difficult, but you need a plan to make it work. And if you’re outsourcing for your Amazon store, there are a few particulars that you want to pay attention to. In this article, we’ll cover a few tips for outsourcing efficiently online with a focus on Amazon and the tried and tested FreeeUp process, that Nathan and I have used for over a decade, to experience a smooth hiring process every single time.
Notes on Outsourcing for Amazon
Amazon is a closed ecosystem – it doesn’t rely on anything outside of itself to run properly. The marketplace was designed this way on purpose. Everything within its systems is focused on and specific to Amazon’s goals and functions, like providing top customer service and the rules and tools that support that. And it’s a really big ecosystem.
So, what does this mean for you as a seller looking to outsource efficiently online?
You need to hone in on freelancers who are supremely familiar with this vast ecosystem. The more niched they are in terms of Amazon tasks, the better.
That being said, if you’re a multi-channel seller, you will also want to find freelancers who are familiar with the other platforms you’re using. If you use FBA for products that you sell outside of Amazon, you’ll need to find freelancers with a slight overlap in skills, so that they can coordinate smoothly and still guarantee Amazon-level customer satisfaction. That is one of the keys to outsourcing efficiently for Amazon.
So let’s dive into the actual process.
1. Identify Tasks to Outsource
The first step to outsourcing efficiently is to be prepared before you begin the actual hiring process. It’s all about knowing exactly what you’re going to hire for, and why.
Pro Tip: This step is the longest of them all, but don’t rush through it. Pay it due attention as the foundation for every single part of each of the following steps for outsourcing efficiently online.
First, the why.
If you’re good at absolutely every single task that needs to get done for your Amazon business to run, grow and thrive, then you’re one in a gazillion. Everyone is good at some things, but rarely will you find someone who’s good at everything. Moreover, you want greatness if you want to build and keep a strong business. Finding someone who is great at everything is nearly impossible.
The smart thing to do is to recognize what you are good at, what anyone else working on the business is good at, and then identify the gaps.
You’re probably looking into hiring people right now because you’re doing too many things and you want some time for yourself. Some business owners feel ashamed of this, but it’s not actually a selfish idea. It’s a smart move to give yourself a breather.
As the business owner, you need to value your time because it equates to your health, which equates to your productivity, which then equates to the value that you are bringing to your business. Finally, this equates to the health of your business and its potential for success.
Reviewing your ability, money and time, you will see what is of value to you and your business and get an overview of what tasks you need to outsource. You’ll see and use these three words to keep you focused throughout this process.
It may be the right time for you to outsource tasks, but you may hesitate because of how much you project you’re going to spend. The great thing about outsourcing, though, is that it can be done whether you have a large or small hiring budget. So put that fear aside right now.
Looking at it from a different perspective, you need greatness for your business to be great. This means that being willing to properly invest in the different areas of your business is an important part of outsourcing efficiently.
Now on to the actual identification of the tasks you’re going to get off your plate.
Take out a pen and some paper, or open up a spreadsheet if you’re more comfortable taking the digital route. You can use this TATMA Sheet that’s already prepped for this task, you can keep it in Google Docs or download it as a spreadsheet.
Make a List
First, under “Tasks,” list out all of the tasks that are currently being done by you or someone else in your business. Next, add in all other tasks that no one has gotten to yet because everyone’s just too busy.
It may help you to create sub-categories so you can better organize things, especially since there are many moving parts to an Amazon business. Feel free to format your TATMA sheet in whatever way makes sense for you and your business.
If you need some inspiration, here are a few compilations of the most common tasks Amazon businesses can outsource:
- 39 Tasks a Virtual Assistant for Amazon Can Do
- 17 Key Freelancers for Amazon to Outsource Your Private Label Business
- 10 Key Freelancers for Amazon Business Tasks
- 10 E-Commerce Freelancers You Need on Your Amazon Team
- What You Should Outsource to a VA for Amazon Tasks
- 100 Most Common Tasks to Outsource eBook
Rate the Different Tasks
Now it’s time to mark the tasks that you and everyone else are least qualified for. Be objective. Never mind the why and just be honest about what’s getting done well and what isn’t. Under “Ability” next to each task, rate from 1-10 how they are being performed based on the results you’re getting. For tasks that no one’s doing or that are getting done sporadically at best, use 0.
Next, move to the “Time” column. Rate each task from 1-10 based on how much time it requires. A score of 1 means it’s too time-intensive and 10 means it’s perfectly under control. Think about what doing this task also means for other tasks that need to get done, and lower or raise your rating based on how much it affects their proper accomplishment.
The “Money” column is a bit more complex and will take a few rounds of rating. First, rate each task from 1-10 based on how much you’re currently spending to get it done. This could be how much you pay someone, or how much of your own time it eats up. 10 is a little, 1 is a lot. Use 0 for tasks that have no time being spent,because they’re not getting done. Don’t worry about exact numbers, an estimated average will do.
Pro Tip: If you haven’t got a dollar figure for your own time, use this formula to get an idea of what each of your hours is worth. Remember to use the same base time period for both money and time, whether it’s a week, a month, or a year:
($ you want to earn) / (# of hours you want to spend working)
Second, think about the value that each task brings to your business. Lower the rating for tasks that are truly value-adding; i.e. where the investment is worth it. Lower the rating as well for tasks that are getting very little or no budget because there’s not enough time for them. Don’t forget to include the tasks you’ve given a 0 to.
Third, raise the score for tasks that require little investment because they’re not important. Then lower the scores for tasks that a lot of money goes into but aren’t yielding great results.
Choose Tasks to Outsource
Here you need to filter each column in turn so that the data gets sorted from lowest to highest to see what tasks need immediate attention.
Look at each task with a rating of 1 and think about how vital it is. In this column, highlight in red the most crucial ones, then in orange the important ones, then in yellow the ones that aren’t urgent. Then look at each task with a rating of 0 and do the same.
Look at each task with a rating of 1 and think about how much value it brings to the business. This is in terms of how vital the task itself is and in terms of your time. Tasks that are vital but don’t require you to get them done get highlighted in red in this column. Then go on to orange and yellow as their importance decreases and/or they’re more worth your time.
Look at each task with a rating of 1. These are the truly value-adding tasks that you’ve invested well in. Mark these red in the Money column because you can either outsource them to lower your costs or to get better results. As above, use orange for the next ones, 2s and possibly 3s, then yellow for others that are still valuable but not supremely so.
Now, look at each task with a rating of 10. This is where your budget is being wasted. Make notes in the Action column next to each task for what can be moved from these tasks up to the priority tasks. Start with the 1s depending on what needs more investment and move down as far as your budget allows.
Pro Tip: If you’re not sure of the going rates for outsourcing to freelancers, do some research on all the red tasks before working out your new task-level budgets.
Out of all these tasks, single out the ones that show the most red over the three columns. These are the ones that you will consider for immediate outsourcing. To see these more clearly, you can filter them again so they’re ranked accordingly from the top down.
The key to outsourcing efficiently in this step is to start with just one task. Don’t be rattled by all the red marks. Yes, you need to do something about these tasks. But not just yet. Take it slow or you’ll get overwhelmed.
Write out a Task Description
Starting with the most urgent task you’ve chosen, write out a clear and detailed description of what the task entails. Keep in mind:
- Your budget based on industry standards for freelancers
- Where you are willing to hire from – an important part of outsourcing efficiently online is being open to hires from anywhere in the world, but knowing what factors, whether personal or business, will limit your choices
2. Identify the Right Freelancers
This step is all about knowing exactly who you need to hire to get your chosen task done properly.
Pro Tip: If you’ve paid close attention to your TATMA sheet, this part will be a breeze because you’ll be super focused and can now fix your attention on spotting the right fit and looking for red flags. If not, you’ll have to be extra careful, and know that you’re already running the high risk of not being able to either identify the right freelancer or know when an applicant isn’t that person.
You may have managed your store all on your own in the beginning. By now, you may have already hired some people to help you manage your hundreds and thousands of products. And you may have hired them based on how you handled the various tasks for your business.
Don’t let this history mislead you into thinking that one person can do a bunch of different tasks – or that this situation is a good idea. And don’t stick to hiring people because they’re like you. Another key to outsourcing efficiently is diversifying. Here’s why:
- Hiring different people for different tasks means that you can find highly experienced people for each area.
- If anything happens and your working relationship must come to an end, you can more quickly and easily replace that person.
- Hiring people with different skills and talents from yours means that you can add the value that this brings to your business.
Basic Freelancer Traits
In this step, remember that you are looking for someone who:
- Has specific skills in that task area of the vast Amazon marketplace that you don’t
- Has the experience to get things done right
- Charges a rate that fits within your budget without compromising on quality
- Can give you the hours you need consistently put in for the task
From all the above information, create a persona of the ideal person to handle the task.
3. Find the Right Platform
One thing that makes outsourcing efficiently easy is all the available hiring platforms online. You will definitely need to use one to quickly find the right fit without spending too much money. The key here is to find a platform that you can rely on to help you find the people you need without further draining your time, money and energy.
The platform you want will have the four Ps:
Pools the best – only true professionals with the right skills and experience for the task you are hiring for and great attitudes towards work, you and the business.
Provides support – quality assistance throughout the entire hiring process regardless of how much you’re spending with them.
People first – both you and the person you’re hiring are well cared for, ensuring mutual satisfaction that encourages the best results all around.
PDQ connections – gets you in touch with the right freelancers ASAP so you can get to work.
4. Interview Candidates
If you’ve been careful and attentive thus far, you’ll have no trouble at all spotting the perfect candidate for your task. You know what you want done and who you need to do it. This will already help you a great deal by narrowing down applicants to a handful of the best prospects on paper.
The last step before making a selection is to interview these finalists to confirm that they are the right fit. The focus here is to know without a doubt whether they:
- Are who they say and who you think they are
- Are passionate about your business and how they will be contributing to it
To achieve the above, you will need to prepare pointed questions about each candidate’s skills, attitude, and experience, and share some information about your business goals and how everything is run.
Set Clear Expectations
To conduct a proper interview, you also need to know if they will fit in with your business culture. To determine if they can work well with you and/or other people you’ve already hired, you need to make your expectations regarding the task very clear.
Create a document similar to your task description that outlines any important personal preferences you have for everything related to the task. This includes:
- What times you prefer it to be done and how many hours and days a week you need it to be worked on
- Your policies on vacation days and emergency leaves
- What kind of reporting you expect
- When you want to meet for updates and how that will go
- How independently you want them to work on the task
- How much initiative you want them to take with creating systems and processes or making suggestions to increase efficiency
- How and when you want them to communicate with you
- What your pet peeves are
Share that document with each freelancer after you’ve confirmed their hard skills so you can check on their soft skills as the final test of their suitability.
5. Hire and Onboard
After these interviews, you should be able to tell which among the finalists is the absolute best of the best. All you need to do now is make the hire official and set the freelancer to work.
You aren’t going to need to train this freelancer because you’ve already hired someone who’s skilled and experienced – that is if you didn’t lowball the applicants. You still need to properly introduce them to your business, however, so that they can get integrated. This is important because they need to get settled in to be able to perform at their peak.
Introduce the new hire to anyone they’ll be working with and give them time and space to get to know each other. Monitor how they interact over the next few weeks and be available to help smooth out any rough spots.
You’ve already introduced the new hire to your task systems and expectations, so now you’ll observe as they get hands-on with them. Make sure to let them know that you’re available for any questions they have, or point them to the manager you’ve delegated this area to.
Rinse and Repeat
For the first few weeks that someone works on a task, you need to be keenly observant. You’ll want to look out for any red flags that you weren’t able to spot early on. Decide whether they can be improved or if you’ve made a mistake hiring this person. If the former, give honest feedback and work with them. If the latter, be frank and let them go before they can cause more damage. Then go back to the first step and see where you went wrong so you can hire right this time.
As you get the first task down and everything’s running smoothly, you can move on to another high priority task on your TATMA sheet. Remember to take your time so you don’t miss anything important that will cause trouble for you later on, after you’ve invested time, money and energy into hiring someone. I assure you, you won’t make things better by hiring for more than one task at a time.
Hire slowly, being careful along the way and the chances are great that you’ll make only good hires every time. In the long run, this will save you so much time, money and effort, and prevent the damaging effects that bad hires will have on your business.
Connor Gillivan is currently a Founder and Owner of OutsourceSchool.com. He was an Owner of FreeUp.net, which he helped scale and was acquired in 2019 by The HOTH. Connor is an expert in hiring and scaling with virtual assistants and shares his business insights on his own blog, ConnorGillivan.com. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.