Expanding into the Outsourcing Business in the Philippines
Last year, I was lucky enough to sell the rights to my online e-commerce business abubot.ph. Abubot took about 5 years of my time and I did not regret any minute of it. For one, it taught me valuable lessons in business, in e-commerce and added a LOT of skills to my digital marketing repertoire.
Around 2 years ago, I dabbled into Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) when opportunity presented itself. Like e-commerce, I started with zero knowledge but, thanks to Google, the Internet, Youtube and close friends and colleagues in the BPO and Customer Service industry, I was able to slowly learn and acquire new skills to push this aspect of Big Ideas into the mainstream. It’s not huge at the moment but we’re taking baby steps and (hopefully) putting things in the right direction and perspective.
Right now, our group has 3 clients from California, USA in various industries and the team is working to fulfill various vacancies for our clients. There have been tough calls and a lot of lessons learned from experience.
Here are some notes and tips that, from experience, I can share:
- Don’t expect to have agents or freelancers for the long term: Freelancing does have its perks and disadvantages at the same time. But “greener pastures” will often attract your talents. The key to retention is trying to find the right person and incentivicing them enough so they remain loyal. Money and compensation are just part of it, making them realize that they have real value is the challenge.
- Your biggest assets are your team, not your clients. If you take care of your guys, they will take care of your clients.
- Have rock-solid contracts and contingencies: Freelancing is a different beast than “regular employment”. I had to consult lawyers and friends from the HR industry to make sure that our contracts, clauses and stipulations are all strong and solid. The rough parts would be the “benefits” accrued to employees are often not given to freelancers. Though some clients will be more generous than others, look for the middle “sweet spots”, so to speak.
- Break the monotony of “Work From Home”: The myth is that ‘work from home’ is manna from heaven is false. The lack of face-to-face and socialization can take a toll not only on the business leaders but also on the team itself. Make sure you meet IRL at least once every month or so. Trust me, it will work wonders for the team!
- Take advantage of technology and tools: There are a lot of tools and apps that will make your life easier managing a remote team. Top of my head are some of the stuff we use like Google Suite, Trello, Slack, Any.do, Facebook Messenger and Wheniwork.com. Go ahead and Google it. Thank me later. Am sure there are others, but the above are what helped us the most.
- Always strive to improve: Learning should be constant. Read a lot of articles on the industry. Keep abreast of trends. Practice what you learned. Make and share this habit with your team. You should be infectious.
- Have backups and contingencies: Since home-based work and servicing your clients requires constant (and good) Internet service. I invested in a backup DSL at home. And even if that fails, the crappiest I will rely on will be my mobile data. I also make sure that everyone on the team has backups in cases of service disruption.
- Watch your health: Graveyard shifts and long hours sitting down will put a strain on your body. Remind yourself to take breaks, stretch, walk or just “do nothing”. Hydrate often and take lots of rest afterwards. The body can only take so much strain and stress and we don’t want to burn it out, do we?
So, those are just some of the things I learned in the 2 years I’ve been in this small “start up” and it’s been a wonderful ride. I am thankful for the key members and leaders of my team and we look forward to add more members to our family in the months and years to come.
If you’re into this kind of business or side-hustle, I wish you the best. Do comment below if you have any questions or need help and I will, to the best of my ability, try to help.
Until then, keep the faith!