I’ve had a number of potential clients ask whether I’m on freelancing sites such as Freelancer, Fiverr, or Upwork. Though I have created a presence on some of them, I do not actively court clients in those locations.
It may seem to run counter to logic that a service company such as Cirrus VA would avoid sites that are filled with potential clients looking for able bodies to complete basic tasks. The problem lies within the expectation set forth by those sites that a simple request will be submitted, the project bid, and the best bid will get the job. In the eyes of the potential clients, the “best bid” is typically the cheapest. That cost savings, however, can come at a price.
Often, Cirrus VA takes on projects where some piece of legwork completed by an independent contractor from one of the top freelancing sites. What we quickly discover is that, despite the task having been completed, no thought was given to the usability of the end result.
There are some things a business owner can do to avoid these potential pitfalls.
Clearly Define Your Project’s Scope
- What do you need done? Example: Compile contacts into a list
- How do you plan to use it? Example: Sort contacts into categories for marketing purposes
- What format will help you achieve your outcome? Example: A PDF list will meet #1, but is it useable? An Excel spreadsheet will give you greater function. You can upload it into your company’s CRM platform, sort by category, and add notes IF it has been set up properly. Can your chosen vendor provide the necessary end product?
Choose Someone Who Asks the Right Questions
Sometimes the “What” seems clear to us, but we haven’t considered the “Why?” or the “How?” The right partnership will help to define those things before the project commences and refine them as it is underway.
Perhaps those questions are straightforward: “Are you looking for a master list that can be sorted, or would you also like the categories separated out?”
They may offer insights: “I notice that there is no category for [X] contacts, but you have a significant number that would fall into it. Would you like them divided out further so you can target them more directly, or do you prefer to keep only the categories previously outlined?”
Know the Process for Oversight
It’s tempting to set a project deadline with the expectation that said project will be completed with no further interaction until the final submission. That is the reason you handed it off in the first place, right?
It may be possible if there is an established relationship and the project is standard protocol within that relationship, but if this is a new working situation, you should know that the vendor will follow up with you for any necessary clarifying information and keep you informed on progress. The last thing you want is a completed project done incorrectly or in such a manner that you will not be able to make use of it.
What is the vendor’s manner of communication? How will you be notified of progress? What sort of flexibility do you have if things need adjustment after work as been completed?
Sometimes what seems to be a simple project isn’t. Have you hired someone with the skills to recognize the potential complexities? There are individuals who are very good at data entry. They are fast. They are efficient, but they give no thought to the use of the data they are entering and the real world applications of it. If you know exactly what you need, they may serve a purpose, but if you do not have every portion of your project outlined clearly, they may end creating an end product that looks right, but is unusable when it comes to execution. If you hire someone who has the necessary data entry skills, but can also look at how that data affects your project’s “big picture,” you can avoid potential pitfalls and end up with a better result than you imagined. That individual can also flex the work, should a redirection or a change in scope be necessary.
Even though you may never meet the individual completing your tasks face-to-face, you should never feel disconnected from your assistant. Communication should be consistent; protocols for follow up should be in place, and you should be able to feel that your project is getting the attention it deserves. Is your vendor accessible when you have questions? Are you getting regular updates on progress? Have you established a working relationship?
Remote workers are a great resource for small business owners, as they allow flexing of staff to the fluctuating needs of a business, but not all are created equal. Before engaging someone, ask questions. A strong working relationship will drive you to greater results than you may have originally imaged, because you have gained a partner in success.
Want to know more? Email us with any questions: Info@cirrusva.com.