If you’re anything like me, you’re a busy entrepreneur who gets so caught up in her tasks she often forgets to eat, let alone go on vacation. Though I’ve been trying to get better about this in recent years, I’m still really bad about not outsourcing small business tasks, and instead taking on all the things and doing them myself.
But, as I’ve been reminded time and time again, I’m not Superwoman. The reality is we can’t do it all, and we shouldn’t try to because when we do it’s the fast track to entrepreneur burnout. Nobody wants that.
I certainly don’t!
So, let’s talk about outsourcing for small business owners. While outsourcing and delegating can feel scary, it doesn’t have to.
To get some real-world perspectives on outsourcing, I went straight to the experts — entrepreneurs just like you and me — for their top tips on letting it go.
How to know when it’s time to outsource
You might be thinking the best time to outsource is when:
You’ve got plenty of money
You have more work than you know what to do with and/or
You’re unable to take on more clients because your schedule is packed
But, perhaps the better time to outsource is right away! The sooner the better.
Anton Giuroiu, founder of Homesthetics.net, recommends that you outsource any task that jeopardizes your ability to do the things that only you can do immediately. “For example, if accounting and bookkeeping tasks rob me of precious time that I could have spent in executive decision-making, then it’s time to outsource or delegate that task,” he says.
You shouldn’t wait on outsourcing small business tasks that take up mental bandwidth you need for the bigger picture. Put another way, the sooner you start outsourcing and delegating, the sooner you can focus on the ideas and action items that can help your business grow and make more revenue in the long run.
Ravi Davda, CEO of Rockstar Marketing agrees with Giuroiu. “I have a simple rule: Outsource everything that costs $10 or less. Whether that’s cleaning, social media management, admin work, or anything else. This is a great place to start. You can get great VAs for this price. Then, increase this to $15 or $20. For me, the best time to outsource is straight away, as terrifying as this may sound. The benefits are worth it,” he says.
You might not want to wait until you have “plenty” of capital either.
Aseem Kishore, founder of Help Desk Geek, says the best time to outsource is actually when you’re having financial issues. The reason? It’s a more economical way to handle business operations. Kishore explains that managers and executives often have too much on their plate, and when they can outsource certain tasks, they can alleviate the work pressure.
Think about it: When you’re earning $50/hour, if you can delegate the less labor intensive tasks at even half that hourly rate, you’re able to take back that time and earn more money overall for your business.
According to Christopher Pappas of eLearning Industry Inc., the reason you need to start working on outsourcing and delegating as soon as possible is because it could take time to find the help you need.
“It will take time to find the right vendor or workers for your needs, so resist the urge to hire the first person you speak with. Even if they turn out to be the best option, compare and contrast their strengths with those of other providers. Spend some time looking around on outsourcing websites as well,” he says. “Choose a company specializing in exactly what you require; you want their strengths to match your objectives. When deciding with whom to begin a business relationship, numerous factors to consider. Of course, a reasonable price will influence your decision, but that isn’t the only consideration.”
Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree says the first thing to do when you’re considering delegating is to determine whether the task should be delegated, automated, or eliminated. “Otherwise, you just end up adding more costs to your business and wasting your hard-earned cash. For example, if you need to handle social media posting, you can always use a tool like Hootsuite to help schedule your social media posts in advance,” she says. “Or, if it’s something that can be eliminated without much consequence, like weekly client reports, then you don’t need to try delegating the task out.”
Jonathan Tian of Mobitrix says the best tasks to delegate are the ones that are unrelated to your core business but take up a lot of your time.
“For example, a retail business dealing in household items can outsource data backup maintenance, accounting, and tax filing. These tasks are often best suited for professionals, and hiring an in-house one can be very costly,” he says. “Performing them on your own can also limit your business growth, hence the need to outsource. They can take up valuable resources which you can channel towards growing the business as well.”
There are so many tasks you can delegate to someone else. Here’s a list of tasks to consider outsourcing:
Taxes and/or bookkeeping
Media and publicity assistance
Help getting on podcasts/finding podcast guests
Writing press releases and/or submitting them to media outlets
Audio and video editing
Newsletters, and more
Invoicing/accounts payable/accounts receivable
Appointment setting and/or calendar management
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it should get you thinking about the possibilities.
On the flip side, there are a few tasks you should not outsource. According to Vaibhav Kakkar, CEO of Digital Web Solutions, “Any areas of your corporation that will instantly impact customers should not be outsourced. Although some companies do well by hiring vendors for customer service or sales, it’s a risky venture that small businesses or businesses in transition can’t afford.”
Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit, seconds this, and adds, “If the task you are outsourcing could have an impact on your reputation and something goes wrong, you’ll be left in a difficult position. This is why I prefer to only outsource the most routine, basic, in-the-background work.”
Their advice for tasks like these is to hire a staff member rather than a virtual assistant or independent contractor.
When someone is working directly with you full time, or even part time, they are more likely to have a greater level of care for the tasks at hand.
This won’t be just one of many things they do. Instead, they will have a higher vested interest in keeping the customers and their employer happy.
How to find reputable outsourcing help
Once you’re ready to finally start loosening the grip you have on your to-do list, the next logical step is determining where to find help.
Personally, when I was first looking into outsourcing and delegating aspects of my content creation business, I went to Upwork and Fiverr on the recommendation of entrepreneurs that I mastermind and network with. Sometimes looking for help this way can take a while, but I’ve had pretty good luck finding the people I need when I need them.
I’ve found many people are eager to work, especially amidst the pandemic because they want to have the freedom to stay at home.
Heather Welch of Ukelele Tabs says she prefers freelance platforms like Upwork as well because individuals looking for work often have portfolios online. “This way, I can see past work and get a better idea on what to expect when I do decide to work with a specific freelancer.”
For Dalila Rodriguez, who runs a public relations company, she looks for talent on LinkedIn, whereas Shane and Jocelyn Sams of Flipped Lifestyle and many online business owners like them have been known to post their independent contractor opportunities on Facebook.
The key with using social media to find help is to have thorough job descriptions and a lengthy vetting process, but this process works and can yield decent results.
Pro Tip: If you want to use a freelancing platform, stick with only one
Hutch Ashoo who runs Pillar Wealth Management, says if you choose to use a website such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, or People Per Hour, to only stick with one of them. “Using many sites can make things (i.e. contracts, tasks, the people you’re working with) more difficult to maintain, but if you use only one, it’s simple to manage all of your tasks from a single location.”
Melissa Smith, Founder and CEO of The Association of Virtual Assistants says, “Look for talent on LinkedIn, in your peer groups, and where the person would likely spend time online. For instance, if you want assistance with your Instagram [profile] it would make sense that the virtual assistant would spend a good bit of time on IG.”
Pro Tip: If you’re struggling to find help on your own, consider an agency
Some entrepreneurs use agencies to find virtual assistants and contractors they can hire by the hour or even by the task, and there are hundreds of agencies to choose from. So, how do you choose?
It boils down to a few basic questions:
What is their reputation?
Can you speak to past clients/do they have testimonials or reviews?
How’s their success rate?
What is the fee?
How much of the fee actually goes to the person doing the work?
Where is the agency located? (Some businesses prefer to only work with agencies in the U.S. whereas others only want to hire help in other countries.)
Do you personally know anyone who has used the agency? If so, what was their experience like?
How do the contracts work?
What’s the exit strategy like?
What happens when you are ready to move on/let the help go?
Bottom line: Regardless of how you go about finding virtual assistants and/or independent contractors for outsourcing and delegating tasks, do your homework. Don’t just hire the first person at the rate you’re looking for.
Once you find someone to work with, the next question is how to delegate tasks to them.
How to delegate your tasks
Malte Scholz, CEO and CPO of Airfocus, says the key with outsourcing and delegating is to make sure the tasks you assign are “straightforward and easy to complete without constant supervision. You want [people] to be independent and save you time. If you have to explain every single thing, you aren’t really benefiting in the process.”
Nick Chernets, SEO of Data for SEO seconds this and adds, “One of the most common issues with outsourcing is the lack of understanding which leads to multiple mistakes. Instead of saving time, you risk spending hours explaining the task to the freelancer. That’s why you have to prepare detailed guidelines ahead of time and make sure they are easy to follow.”
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve personally ever heard for giving thorough instructions to a freelancer is to film yourself doing the task and then write out the steps you took.
This way, your independent contractor will have both visual and written cues for how to complete the task themselves.
It’s also important to avoid going back and double checking the work too many times. Micromanaging takes too much time, and can actually lead to your assistant making more mistakes than if you have empowered the individual to handle the task at hand on their own.
Next steps for outsourcing for small business owners
Hopefully, this post has inspired you to start looking at the tasks you do daily and start delegating some of them out. It can be scary to hand over the things you normally do, but the most important thing to remember is you’re not giving up control. You’re actually taking back control — of your time, your energy, and your ability to expand your business.
Take some time and really start thinking about everything you do in a day. Then, go back through the list and put a star next to the things that only you can do. I’m betting you’ll be surprised by how many tasks can actually be done by someone else.
Next, I challenge you to outsource just a single task. Start small. Before you know it, you’ll be an outsourcing expert. Who knows what you’ll be able to create with all the time you’ll free up!
But equity rounds aren’t the only way for a company to raise money — alternative and other non-dilutive financing options are often overlooked. Taking on debt might be the right solution when you’re focused on growth and can see clear ROI from the capital you deploy.
Not all capital providers are equal, so seeking financing isn’t just about securing capital. It’s a matter of finding the right source of funding that matches both your business and your roadmap.
Here are four things you should consider:
Does this match my needs?
It’s easy to take for granted, but securing financing begins with a business plan. Don’t seek funding until you have a clear plan for how you’ll use it. For example, do you need capital to fund growth or for your day-to-day operations? The answer should influence not only the amount of capital you seek, but the type of funding partner you look for as well.
Start with a concrete plan and make sure it aligns with the structure of your financing:
Match repayment terms to your expected use of the debt.
Balance working capital needs with growth capital needs.
It’s understandable to hope for a one-and-done financing process that sets the next round far down the line, but that may be costlier than you realize in the long run.
Your term of repayment must be long enough so you can deploy the capital and see the returns. If it’s not, you may end up making loan payments with the principal.
Say, for example, you secure funding to enter a new market. You plan to expand your sales team to support the move and develop the cash flow necessary to pay back the loan. The problem here is, the new hire will take months to ramp up.
If there’s not enough delta between when you start ramping up and when you begin repayments, you’ll be paying back the loan before your new salesperson can bring in revenue to allow you to see ROI on the amount you borrowed.
Another issue to keep in mind: If you’re financing operations instead of growth, working capital requirements may reduce the amount you can deploy.
Let’s say you finance your ad spending and plan to deploy $200,000 over the next four months. But payments on the MCA loan you secured to fund that spending will eat into your revenue, and the loan will be further limited by a minimum cash covenant of $100,000. The result? You secured $200,000 in financing but can only deploy half of it.
With $100,000 of your financing kept in a cash account, only half the loan will be used to drive operations, which means you’re not likely to meet your growth target. What’s worse, as you’re only able to deploy half of the loan, your cost of capital is effectively double what you’d planned for.
Is this the right amount for me at this time?
The second consideration is balancing how much capital you need to act on your near-term goals against what you can reasonably expect to secure. If the funding amount you can get is not enough to move the needle, it might not be worth the effort required.
Elon Musk said Sunday he “somewhat agonized” over the font designs for his companies Tesla and SpaceX.
The billionaire businessman added he “loves fonts” and has tweaked the logos over the years.
He revealed the SpaceX logo also holds a hidden meaning, representing a rocket’s arc to orbit.
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In a series of Sunday tweets, Elon Musk said he “somewhat agonized” over his choice of fonts for his businesses and revealed a hidden meaning behind the SpaceX logo.
Responding to a tweet about serif and sans-serif fonts, the billionaire businessman took a break from posting cryptic memes and discussing politics to say he loves fonts and put significant consideration into how his companies are presented to consumers.
“I somewhat agonized over the Tesla & SpaceX font design (love fonts tbh),” Musk tweeted. “There are some similarities, particularly use of negative space. We’ve made many little tweaks over the years.”
The Tesla logo — a T-shaped design with a custom, sans-serif font spelling out the brand name — is meant to resemble a cross-section of an electric motor. The SpaceX logo, written in a similar font with an extended X, references the reusable rockets made by the company.
“The swoop of the X is meant to represent the rocket’s arc to orbit,” Musk tweeted.
Other business logos have also held hidden messages: Baskin Robbins, a chain that sells 31 flavors of ice cream, has a secret ’31’ hidden in the letters of its logo. Likewise, Amazon’s arrow logo is meant to represent a smile, while the circular ‘B’ logo for Beats by Dre represents a person wearing the popular headphones.
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The internet has revolutionized the business world and changed how we conduct business. Any business that aims to increase its visibility and boost profit needs to pay much attention to top ranking factors, including local SEO — which introduces the topic of the local search algorithm.
Local SEO is one of the top practices that help boost a business’s visibility and generates more sales.
However, achieving better local SEO rankings is not a walk in the park, especially due to increased competition. To appear higher on local results, businesses and marketers need to understand how the local search algorithm works.
Knowing this helps guide the steps for improving rankings in the local pack.
The competition gets stiffer as more businesses open and optimize for local searching. Besides, Google is updating its algorithm consistently, meaning only businesses that can keep up with these updates can appear at the top of local search results.
Luckily, you have come to this post as this article looks at everything you need to know about Google’s local search algorithm and what you can do to get that top spot in the local pack.
Understanding the local search algorithm
Google aims to provide the best results that match a specific local search query. It constantly updates the local search algorithm to determine which business to rank on top of local search results.
Ideally, Google wants to provide local content that is relevant and valuable to users. As with search engine optimization, keyword stuffing cannot give you that top spot in local search results.
SEO specialists and marketers should consider Google’s local search algorithm updates and make the necessary changes to rank higher. Failure to consider these updates means losing your local search presence, resulting in fewer leads and conversions.
Local algorithms check the Google My Business (GMB) listings to determine where to rank a business in local search rankings.
Ideally, Google’s local algorithm ranks businesses with information that matches a searcher’s query. And the higher a business ranks in local search results, the more chances a potential customer will click on it.
This post looks at the three major pillars that determine local search results to better understand the local search algorithm: proximity, prominence and relevance.
Of course, other factors make up Google’s local search algorithm, but since we cannot identify all of them, we’ll focus on the most crucial ones in this post.
By understanding these pillars, marketers can better position themselves for local search success.
Proximity is one of the major ranking factors when it comes to local search. That means the distance between a business and a searcher is a ranking factor in local search.
When a searcher searches for something, Google considers how far the searcher is from the location of the term they use in the search. When a searcher doesn’t specify the location, Google calculates the distance based on the information they have regarding their location.
Ideally, Google aims to provide the most relevant results to a search query. For instance, why would Google provide a list of coffee shops in Los Angeles if the searcher is searching from Colombia?
That would be irrelevant local search results that won’t benefit the searcher.
Unfortunately, while proximity is a major local search pillar, it’s one of the factors that businesses have little control over. After all, you cannot change where your business is located, right?
You can only ensure your business location is as clear as possible, so that it appears for related nearby queries. Here are steps you can take to achieve this:
Claim and verify the Google My Business listing
Ensure local listings are accurate and optimized for local products or services
Get the Google Maps API Key and optimize for your location and routes
Set up your profile correctly (for Service Area Businesses) to avoid violating Google’s guidelines
Users can perform several types of local searches, including:
Users will perform geo-modified searches when they are planning to visit somewhere. For instance, a searcher in Los Angeles planning to visit Toronto, Canada, may search for a “coffee shop in Oakville.” The results will differ from if they searched for “coffee” while physically in Oakville.
To be specific, geo-modified searches are mainly based on relevance and prominence as opposed to proximity when a user searches for something when outside the city included in the search.
Searchers perform this type of search when looking for something around them. For instance, a user in Los Angeles performing a local search for “coffee.”
Ideally, the user only needs to search for something and is shown results based on proximity. They will get the results that are closest to them.
“Near me” searches
“Near me” searches have been so popular in recent years. Although their popularity has significantly declined, users still perform this type of search when looking for something locally.
For instance, some users could add “near me” when searching for a coffee shop, hoping to get the most relevant results near them. As we’ve stated, this trend has lost popularity because when you perform a local search, you are searching for something near you.
It is not necessary to add “near me” to what you’re searching.
Prominence refers to how important Google thinks your business is, which gets factored into the local search algorithm.
In other words, it refers to how well a business stands from the rest in various aspects, including directories, links, reviews, mentions, among other things.
If search engines view your business as trustworthy and credible, they will likely show it on top of related search query results.
The local search algorithm views businesses/brands with a stronger online prominence as credible and trustworthy. Some of the factors that determine prominence include:
A local citation is the mention of a business’s information online. The mention can include the partial or complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a local business.
Citations are an excellent way for people to learn about local businesses and impact local search results.
A business with high-quality citations can rank better in local search results, although businesses must continually manage citations to ensure data accuracy.
Backlinks play a crucial role in local business prominence. Gaining relevant backlinks from high-quality sites is an excellent way to build a business’ online reputation.
If you’re trying to outrank your competitors without much success, your backlink profile could be the reason.
In that case, you should check your competitor’s backlinks and compare them with yours. When doing this, pay attention to the number and quality of their backlinks.
As a rule of thumb, aim to have high-quality local backlinks pointing to your site to improve your page’s authority.
Next, you need to pay much attention to reviews to improve local prominence. Many customers look at a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to engage more with the business or not. Besides, many positive online reviews can increase a business’ ranking factors.
Consider this scenario. A potential customer is looking for a pub around Oakville. When they perform a search, they are presented with two results: one with over 100 reviews and another with less than 10 reviews.
Which business do you think the searcher would trust? The one with 100 reviews, obviously.
As with search engines, customers need to trust a business before they decide to do business with it. Similarly, search engines can view online reviews and analyze them to determine a business’s online prominence.
That said, here are strategies you can use to boost your online review signals:
Have a strategy
You won’t have a strong online prominence if your products or services are not of a high standard. So, the first step to having many great reviews is to develop great products and services.
After that, develop a strategy to encourage your happy customers to leave honest but valuable reviews of their experience doing business with you to help boost your online reputation.
Monitor and manage the reviews
Having many reviews is one thing; you need to develop a plan to engage with your customers for better results. Responding to reviews shows people that you care and are genuine about your products and services.
People will avoid businesses that don’t respond to customer reviews (whether positive or negative).
Search engines, too, can tell whether you engage with customer reviews or not and will use the information to determine where to rank on local search results.
When responding to online reviews, pay special attention to negative reviews and how you respond to them. While no business likes getting negative reviews, how you respond to them can positively impact your business — respond positively to turn the negative reviews around.
As earlier stated, Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a local search query. This key ranking factor will determine a business’s position in local search results — how well does a local business match a search query?
Even if your business ticks the above pillars (prominence and proximity), if the content on your page isn’t well structured and doesn’t cover the topics that a searcher is looking for, you won’t appear on top of local search results.
Here are factors that businesses should consider to create a relevant listing:
Local page signals
Local listing categories and attributes
Social posts and responses to online reviews
Local listing signals and categories
A business GMB listing and category can impact its relevance score for local searches. As such, complete your business profile carefully and continually add quality content to the web page to ensure it is relevant for proximity searches.
More specifically, ensure that all information on all listing pages, including Yelp, Bing, and Google, is complete and accurate. Aside from these factors, here are two crucial features you should pay attention to:
Selecting the right categories for your local business listing is among the crucial factors for ranking locally. With over 4000 GMB categories, you want to choose categories that best describe your business — ensure they are relevant and specific.
Here are guidelines to follow when selecting a category:
Describe your business as opposed to your services
Be specific to minimize competition
Reduce the number of GMB categories to describe your business better
Without a proper description, users won’t know what your business is about. This section is about adding an introduction to your business so that customers and search engines can know more about your business.
However, don’t use this section for marketing your business. Just give users and search engines descriptive info that can help determine whether your business matches their needs.
Local page signals
Another way a business can improve its standing in the local search algorithm is by optimizing web pages for specific keywords. For multi-location businesses, it’s essential to have separate, localized pages for each location, with relevant information and contact details for customers to reach you.
Performing competitor research is advisable to determine what terms or keywords to use for a specific query. Here are top on-page signals to consider when trying to gain relevance for a given topic:
Keyword research — Before creating local content, you need to find keywords that matter to your business. Perform keyword research to determine highly relevant keywords with high intent. When finding relevant terms to use in your content, base your research on the customer perspective; think about what they search for and the type of content they are looking for.
Create local content — After finding the right keywords, it’s time to create your content. Google values the quality of content more than the length of the content, so keep this in mind when creating content. Another crucial thing to pay attention to is localizing the content. For example, you can create content on local news and events or use your city’s name within your content.
The goal is to create a connection between what’s happening in your local area and your business. Also, use pictures with your specific geolocation to increase your content relevance.
Creating quality and relevant content is only the start. You need to optimize your content for on-page signals so local search algorithms can discover and rank them better. Here’s how you can optimize your local content for on-page signals:
Meta descriptions — Include keywords in your meta descriptions to encourage searchers to click through and increase visibility
Title tags — Title tags are some of the factors that search engines use to determine where to rank content. Incorporating keywords naturally in your title tags can help boost local rankings
Image tags — Another way to improve local rankings is by including relevant keywords in your image tags. Including geotags also comes with an added advantage
Headings — Users and Google value pages with clear structures. Consider creating headings within your content to capture readers’ attention and encourage them to read on. However, ensure your heading tags describe the content that comes after them well. Also, include keywords in your heading tags to help search engines understand them and their importance.
Off-page local signals
Gaining high-quality backlinks is a great way to boost credibility and trust. Backlinks refer to external links from another website to your site. Aim to have more high-quality backlinks to boost your website authority.
Ideally, having many quality backlinks shows search engines that your website or page is credible and trustworthy, which boosts the chances of ranking it higher in search engine results.
Guest posting is one of the best examples of link-building strategies you can use. Finding great guest posting opportunities provides an excellent opportunity to share your content to a new but relevant audience, which helps boost your website authority.
Another strategy you can use is to create longer and better content than what is already available on the web. When your content is high quality and relevant, it will be easier to get high-quality backlinks.
Review and social signals
Online reviews can also help boost relevance for your local business. Aim to get as many positive reviews from your happy customers as possible.
Remember, when customers perform a local search, they get not only the relevant businesses but also reviews related to the search. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher chances a potential customer will do business with them.
Closing thoughts on the local search algorithm
Ranking on top of local search results can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t when you know the vital things to focus on. As you have seen above, the local algorithm is based on three pillars: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
Of course, other factors determine local search rankings depending on your industry and competition.