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Sustainable & Ethical Outsourcing: What To Consider Before You Outsource

One of the messages we’ll always hammer home is that green marketing is only green if it’s sustainable for you as a business. Sustainable and ethical outsourcing is one of the many ways you can keep your business sustainable. It’ll allow you to finish your working day with enough energy left to go out and do all those amazing things you want to do!

What Is Outsourcing?

There are many ways you can bring in help for your business, whether that’s hiring an employee or bringing on an intern. For this blog, though, we’ll be focusing on outsourcing to a contractor, who are generally experts in their field.

Outsourcing is when we obtain services for our businesses from an outside source. There comes a point where we can no longer spin all the plates. So, for the benefit of our business and health, we outsource those activities we know someone else could do a better job at.

Outsourcing allows us to spend more time on our business, growing our income, or finally taking up that hobby we’ve always dreamed of doing but never had the time for. Outsourcing gives us more space to do things outside of work as well as within our businesses, which we all know is essential to running a sustainable business.

Thinking About What You Can Outsource

Don’t get overwhelmed when you think about what to outsource! It doesn’t have to be something huge or require a high level of budget and commitment. All it has to do is help free up your time so that you’re running a business that is sustainable for you and your energy levels long-term.

Ask yourself these questions, and note down a few answers for each:

  • What things don’t you like doing? Be ruthless here, even if you feel like you ‘should’ like doing something, write anything down that you dislike doing! And sometimes we can be good at something but still dislike doing it, procrastinating it till the last possible moment – write those things down too.
  • What aren’t you good at and what don’t you have any desire to learn to be good at? We all have things that aren’t our zone of genius and there’s no shame in that.
  • What don’t you have time to do but would really like to be doing?
  • Are there things you love doing but are not good at?

Even if you’re good at something, there may come a point where you can outsource this to someone in the same industry as you. They could use it as an opportunity to learn from an expert, and you could train them up so that you can eventually outsource that task you’re good at but maybe ready to move on from.

No matter what your answers are to those questions, the main thing to consider is: are those tasks things that will generate income but keep getting pushed to the bottom of your list? If yes, then they can be what you outsource as a priority.

Pick the tasks that you are most comfortable outsourcing and the ones that are the most urgent and blocking you from doing other activities. Start small, as it won’t be sustainable if you can’t let yourself trust someone else with those areas of your business.

Before You Outsource

Know Your SOPs

Before you start working with someone it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got a good idea of your Standard Operating Procedures. Sounds fancy, but it’s really just a solid overview of your business from a project management perspective. Michelle, the founder of The Academy, has both the GMA and her design studio Minty Made all managed within Notion dashboards. This allows her to easily bring on new team members, showing them one central place where they can have to-do lists, file sharing, and comment on pieces of work. We’re sure Michelle would be a sponsor of Notion if she could be!

Think about timezone, location, and boundaries

Consider whether it’s important or necessary for you to have a team member in the same country as you. If you regularly do in-person meetings, or you’ve got tasks you want to outsource that can’t be done virtually, then location will be a big factor in choosing who to hire.

And if you know you have a meeting at a set time every week with a client, a meeting that you know the contractor will need to be present for, then timezone is another factor you’ll need to consider. But if you’re fully remote, with as much flexibility as you can handle, you could hire someone from anywhere in the world!

Your schedule is something else that is worth thinking about before you hire someone. We talk a lot about having sustainable boundaries in The Academy, and you can watch a replay of a session on it here. Say you have a very strong boundary where you don’t work on Friday afternoons and take every weekend off. Then you come across a business owner who takes Monday and Tuesday off and works on Friday afternoons and over the weekend. It’s not worth sacrificing your boundaries to fit theirs, so you may not be the right fit for each other.

Consider Your Values

As a lot of us are values-driven businesses, we may have some non-negotiable values. Is it important for those you work with to share your values too? Or, if they don’t share them all, are there any that are absolute musts for them to hold for you to feel you’re a good match? Usually, if two business owners share the same values, their personalities are more aligned than they might be if they clashed over certain values. Shared values are nice to have, but they might also be key to a positive and functioning working relationship.

Equally, if you don’t mind what values others hold, then that is also good to know for when you outsource!

Ethical Outsourcing

Unfortunately, it’s become common practice in the online business world for people to hire people from developing countries for a fraction of the price they’d pay to someone in their home country. This is particularly relevant at the time of writing when people all over the world are struggling economically and looking to cut costs wherever they can.

Before you go and outsource to someone without paying them a proper living wage, think about whether you’ll be supporting them; both as business owners and as people. Are you supporting them financially so that they have the resources to grow their business, just like you’d be growing yours? Would you be paying them enough to support their families? Their wellbeing?

Sustainable Development Goal 8 promotes sustained, inclusive economic growth and decent work for all. This is an SDG we want to build our businesses around, and it’s one that we think all businesses globally should stand by.


This blog was written off the back of an Academy presentation by Davey and Daphnah from The Eco Helper. We bring in expert guest speakers like The Eco Helper regularly, who share their expert knowledge on green marketing and green business practices to our students.

But if you’re not ready to join The Academy yet, you can still hear from our experts! Just keep an eye out for our workshops that are available to everyone – with replays available if you can’t join live.

Sign up to our email list to be notified of our next guest speaker workshops and register your interest.