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Outsourcing: do you need to put the love back into your workload?

There’s nothing I love better than a shiny new project.  For one thing it gives me the opportunity to learn something new.  I chatted to two other copywriters recently and we were comparing notes on the most unusual subjects we’d had to write about – snail slime was definitely the winner on that one!  In case you’re wondering, no, it wasn’t me.

I wouldn’t have started my business if I didn’t love writing.  Of course, that isn’t the whole picture.

The jobs I hate

Maybe hate is too strong a word, but you know what I mean.  Give me words in virtually any form and I’m happy.  Present me with numbers and I start to struggle.  I had to pass exams showing that I understood accounting rules for solicitors and could prepare and interpret a basic set of accounts as part of my legal training, but I’d be hard pressed to explain any of it to you now.

My method of account keeping probably leaves a lot to be desired.  Thankfully I have a friendly accountant who hasn’t winced at me too much – yet.  Equally, I’m not keen on doing admin and I don’t imagine I’ll ever come up with a truly stunning piece of graphic design.  I don’t mind trying but I get frustrated at the length of time it takes me to come up with something vaguely reasonable.

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How you can plan so that time equals money

Have you ever been lectured about pricing?  Or do you have to work for a fixed fee that you didn’t negotiate?  I’ve done both.  The benefit of being self-employed is that you can set your own prices.  Of course, you might have a client who wants to negotiate but ultimately it’s up to you whether you take the work or not.

The truth is that dealing with either situation requires proper planning.  That could be at the beginning before you issue a quote.  Or you might have to do it when you’re presented with a task that has a time and/or cost limit imposed.

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Supervision: are you the boss from hell?

If you believe the statistics, we change careers between five and seven times in our lives.  I’m already on career number four – if you count the student bar work and terrible admin jobs, that is.  In reality, I’ve changed jobs at least that often, if not more.  But what does that have to do with supervision, I hear you cry?  Good question.

The truth is, I’ve very rarely left a job because I completely hated the work.  Casual jobs aside, I’ve mainly decided to leave because I couldn’t live with my manager any longer.  The one exception to that was when I decided to leave the law.  I’d changed, so had the work, and it just didn’t fit me anymore.  My last supervising partner was great.

These days I don’t have to deal with dodgy supervision.  I haven’t had to sack a bad client yet but there are a few people I’m trying to avoid!

What’s your style?

Maybe you don’t need to supervise anyone yet.  If you’re a sole trader or a junior in the team, take note.  Your day will come and it’s better to be prepared.

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Do you delegate well?

You might have an easy answer to that question.  Either you delegate all the time and you think you’ve got it right or you don’t delegate at all.

If you’re a sole trader, delegating can feel as if you’re handing your baby over to a complete stranger.  Either you’ve decided to take on an employee or you’re preparing to work with a freelancer.  Potentially, choosing to outsource to a freelancer is less risky.  If things aren’t working letting a freelancer go is much more straightforward than if they were an employee.

Equally, if you’re in a larger business supervising a team of employees, their work will reflect on you.  You need to make sure that they’re being entrusted with work that suits their abilities.

I’ve been on both sides of the delegation table.  Mostly the tasks I was given were entirely appropriate.  However there was the odd occasion in my years of legal practice where I’d express concern about my ability level and be told to get on with it.  I suppose that’s more of a supervision issue, which is a whole new blog post in itself…

Good delegation can be difficult.  When you’re busy, often your team are too.  I’ve always been a planner but even with the best intentions it doesn’t always work.  I was occasionally guilty of handing a ridiculously short deadline to another team member and it doesn’t feel great.  Equally, an over confident but inexperienced colleague once lulled me into a false sense of security.

No matter how your team is constructed here are a few key ways to ensure you delegate effectively.

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