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The Foolproof Guide to Outsourcing, for Entrepreneurs

The Foolproof Guide to Outsourcing, for Entrepreneurs

This era is the time when entrepreneurship is easier than ever. The increasing flow of enterprising individuals entering the entrepreneurial space has presented more challenges that are vying for attention.

One of the main challenges has been finding ways to make entrepreneurs more productive.

Decades ago, the traditional way to fix this problem was to hire employees. It is still a great solution for medium and large companies. However, most of the new entrepreneurs entering the business sectors are startups.

Most startup companies are bootstrapping or trying to run a lean business. These companies have a staff of less than half a dozen people and have likely held a prior work or personal relationship before going into business together.

Even with a team of six people, day-to-day operations can still be overwhelming for a small business to grow rapidly.

For example, startups are always trying to get mainstream publicity and often hope to get it for free. Would one person be enough to score features from several popular publications in a short period?

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If not, would two people dedicated to public relations be enough? What about customer service, accounting, marketing, or raising capital? Will the company have enough time to address those areas adequately?

Such a business needs a strategy that will maximize their productivity without allocating more time to projects. With companies like AirBnB and Uber, it has been becoming more important to utilize leverage in this economy.

AirBnB owns no real estate, but they created a rental platform that allows them to leverage other people’s property. Uber is another example. They started out with a taxi platform that has enabled them to leverage other people’s time — people who desire to be taxi drivers, providing their own cars.

Moreover, leverage goes farther. All of us know that there are only 24 hours in a day. So, why are not more entrepreneurs coming to the realization that outsourcing can make them more productive?

Perhaps, some entrepreneurs are aware of the benefits of outsourcing. Although, I can only wonder what is stopping them from adding it to their business.

I would presume that the culprit is ignorance. Most people know about outsourcing, but they do not know where to start.

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First, it is important for the entrepreneur to know and plan which areas of their business are better suited to be outsourced to an agency or group of freelancers.

There is no doubt that there are parts of your business that you would prefer not to do, whether it is due a lack of competency or interest.

Why spend days or weeks working on tasks that are simply frustrating for you? Would it not be better to outsource those things to someone who has a track record of delivering superb results?

You have options! You can choose to hire from freelancers’ platforms like Upwork or hire an agency like Infintech Designs.

Second, careful consideration should be given to determine if it would be in the best interest of the business to outsource locally, nationally, or abroad.

Many entrepreneurs may overlook this one because they feel that it is not that important. It varies from business to business.

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If your business is based in the United States and looking to outsource customer support staff, it would be best to hire local, native English speakers. Otherwise, hiring an agency who have foreign English speakers may dissuade customers, due to communication problems.

Lastly, it is pertinent to consider the qualifications of potential freelancers or staffing agencies. This will be your most important step that will make or break your business.

Many startups will often try to find cheap talent to work within their budget. There is nothing wrong with being budget conscious, but it should never be at the expense of quality.

If you want to grow your business as fast as humanly possible, then you need to find a way to multiply your efforts. Some software applications like HootSuite can be helpful for managing your social media. However, software does not solve all of the problems that may inhibit the growth of a business.

Often, entrepreneurs get stuck working in their business rather than on their business. It is this very premise, which determines the speed of growth of a company.

Social media is important, but it can overwhelm you from focusing on other parts of your business.

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Entrepreneurs need to return to the realization that they cannot do it all themselves.

While having a small staff can make things slightly easier, it is best to have them focus on areas that are congruent with their strengths. Anything else of importance should be outsourced to competent professionals.

In an era where competition in the entrepreneurship sphere is high, it is pertinent to maximize productivity by leverage other people’s time.

As an entrepreneur, outsourcing is your most important form of leverage. If you want to grow your business fast or even put your business on auto-pilot, nothing will be more important than outsourcing.

Featured photo credit: Geralt via pixabay.com

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Kallen Diggs

Bestselling Author / Magazine Editor / Syndicated Radio Show Host

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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