Once you begin your entrepreneurial journey in running an Amazon FBA business, you will realize how many tasks you have to keep up with to insure things run and scale smoothly. Most of the individual tasks are simple, yet the combination of all the tasks coupled with the prospect of growing the business can be daunting.
Since the beginning, we have always used outside contractors to help us get things done. Here’s a list of items we’ve personally had experience in and what has worked, or failed to work for us.
Where to Find Contractors
- Upwork.com – A system where you can find contractors all over the world. You pay a percentage of the worker’s rate to the site. They have a suite of comprehensive tools that assist you in time tracking, escrow systems, project management and skill assessment to help you in managing your workers.
- Bestjobs.ph / Onlinejobs.ph – Both are sites focused on finding workers remotely located in the Philippines, a place where you can find capable and loyal workers. Some of the workers we have found on these sites have been with us for over 5 years.
- Fiverr.com – A slimmed down version of upwork.com. A quick way to connect with workers.
Tasks You Should Eventually Outsource
When working on a new task you have the skill level to handle yourself, we suggest you do it yourself so you are familiar with the process. The familiarity will make it easier to offload tasks to the workers when the time comes. If your skill set isn’t up to par for certain tasks (designing, copywriting etc.), you can either learn it yourself by doing , or work with an outsourced worker to get it done. Either way, you should have a deep knowledge of what it takes to get the tasks done in an efficient and high quality way. Here are just some of the tasks we suggest you think about outsourcing:
- Copy writing – Creating well written product listings.
- Design – Logos, packaging and branding.
- Photographer touch up – Photoshop work or making the product photo’s background pure white to comply with Amazon terms
- PPC – Monitor, test and manage adjustments of the PPC campaigns on Amazon.
- Inventory Management & Supplier communication – Responding to supplier inquiries and contacting them when you need to place another order.
- Customer service – Replying to ALL emails and inquiries from customers in a timely fashion and closing out existing emails that do not require a response.
- Product Sourcing – Create a set of criteria when it comes to the product niche and price you are looking for and have your workers contact factories that fit this criteria to obtain pricing and product information.
The Interview Process
It’s better to invest a little more time and money up front to make sure you really have the right type of contractors working for you. Hiring the right people can help your business exponentially. While rushing into a work relationship with a contractor can help you get immediate tasks done, it may not help you grow and scale the business in the long term. Here’s how you can make sure your contractors are up for the tasks you plan to assign them and make sure they fit your company’s culture.
- Ask the right questions – Do they have a strong and stable internet connection? Are they willing to provide references? What relevant experience do they have and can they talk about it in detail?
- The Paid Test Task – Make sure you have them complete a test task before making your final decision. Make sure this task is related to what they will be doing for you. The task should be as difficult if not more difficult than what they will be working on in both complexity and analytical scope. Be fair and don’t forget to pay them for their time to complete this task.
- Communication is Key – The interview and scheduled meetings should be done via Skype. This will give you a chance to see how they communicate with you on the fly and to see if their internet connection is as strong and stable as they say. The back and forth communication that occurs during the “test task” phase will also give you a good idea on how they communicate with you when working for you in the long term.
- Probationary Period – After you hire them you should create a short term contract (monthly or bi-weekly) to really get a gauge of how efficient, dedicated and detail oriented they are before having them sign a long term contract.
Once you have a team in place, we do not recommend you “set and forget” it. A consistent process for managing them will help make sure they stay on top of their tasks. Here are some recommendations in process and tools that we have used ourselves.
- BaseCamp – A project management tool by 37 signals. These tools are easy to use and gives you an easy way to create and assign tasks, provide status updates and manage relevant work files and documents.
- Slack – A great messenger tool that allows you to communicate with all your workers. Searching the message threads in Slack are easy and has proven to be very useful, especially if you want to have a clean and reliable electronic trail of your communication with your workers. Their mobile app is well designed and easy to use as well.
- Time Doctor – This tool lets you keep track and log all the hours that your workers are putting in while providing you regular screen captures of their progress to make sure they aren’t billing you for their personal time.
- Skype – For longer form meetings or communication that require detailed discussions, we recommend using good ol’ Skype. Despite it’s issues, it is still one of the more consistent video and call programs out there.
While systems like Fiverr and Upwork have their own payment systems in place, others may not. Quick payment systems like PayPal can be useful for payments for most workers, but if you are leveraging workers in the Philippines, most do not have a PayPal account and use Xoom as their payment system (which is owned by PayPal).
Tasks can get repetitive and boring, especially for your workers who are focused consistently on narrow and tedious tasks. We recommend following up with them every week or 2 to get their perspective on the work they are doing. Ask them if they want to learn any new skills or what their interests lie in and try to assign tasks that they have some type of existing passion for. This will help them keep engaged and let them know that you are looking out for their career. You can also gauge their potential by assigning them tasks outside-the-box that challenges them. Seeing what they come up with during these challenging tasks can give you data on where their true talents lie.
Running a business by yourself is difficult and makes scaling operations impossible. You may not have the funds to hire locally, but leveraging the international workforce that currently exists may buy you the time you need to really focus on what matters.
These tips and suggestions is what has historically worked well for us. If you have your own strategies and techniques on how you hire and manage outsourced workers, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section below.