Especially when working on a startup, the more time consuming tasks you can outsource, the better. Is there a forum or community that would be a good resource for ideas on how to outsource more tasks?
For example, I need to get passport photos. I talked to a friend the other day, and we realized that if I had a decent digital photo, I could have a virtual assistant crop it to the right dimensions, have it printed at Shutterfly, and sent to me. What's a good resource for asking stuff like "how can I outsource getting passport photos?"?
It really depending on what you need done and my approach to outsourcing tasks is to put them into two main categories; one time projects and recurring tasks that you need on a regular basis in your business.
If its a one time project consider sites like Odesk and Elance; go there and post your project. Just make sure to be very descriptive and fully outline the work you need done. A short cut is to search for similar completed jobs that were posted by others and find out which providers got the work done. This way you can just invite the providers to apply for your work. Also make sure to pay attention to the feedback given to the providers by those who previously hired; this is very important so please spend time to read them.
The second category is work that will happen on a regular basis and for this I suggest you hire Virtual Assistants from companies who can provide you with a team of VAs and also a manager to manage them on your behalf. Here are a few;
I have a video blog where I interview Entrepreneurs on a regular basis on my blog to find out their challenges and successes with outsourcing, automation and also how they work with Virtual Assistants in their various businesses.
There is a bunch of services like that, just google for "virtual assistant". Usually they offer to do fixed number of task per week/month on your behalf, for a fixed fee, $35 and up. Here are two examples:
For a one time tasks like "Crop my passport photo" you could try Fiverr?
It's a site where you put up a $5 job, and someone does it for you.
You could also try TaskRabbit (they are only in Boston though)
There is an interesting thing about all of this and its the cost of living with East V West and the cost of employing someone for simple tasks. I remember being at college where a kettle was thrown out even though it only needed a fuse. Why? Because the person repairing it was £50 an hour a new kettle was £12. Obviously this couldn't have been outsourced but I know plenty of other people who would have fixed the kettle for £5 even in the UK!
But in reality life is getting more complex in the world, how much paperwork is involved in simple tasks that before didn't exist? Everything has become bogged down in process and a lot of it can be outsourced. The photo being cropped etc is a prime example of something that could be done. Phoning the vet, booking a restaurant there are a lot of tasks a virtual assistant can do and they are cheap to employ.
Even more so if you don't even know what you want there are task based virtual assistants that will do 15 tasks a month for $30.00 which I think may sound a bit of a luxury but then again how much is $30 to you?
Adding to that getting someone to search websites for an hour to get the best quote for your car insurance your going to gain back more than you just paid the person who did it.
(I run an outsourcing website, and have a virtual assistant myself) You can hire someone hourly on odesk.com or elance.com, or you can use a task based outsourcing website like timesvr.com.
I highly recommend you to hire Filipinos for this kind of job (as opposed to Indians* for example). Filipinos tend to be honest, speak good English, and $4/hr is well paid for someone who isn't skilled in the Philippines. I just come from a trip in the Philippines where I met a guy who was paid $1.5/hr working for Google.
*That's not to suggest that all Indians aren't honest or can't speak good English, btw.
http://virtualassistantsdirect.com/ is probably the lowest cost with still good quality alternative for hiring a full time online personal assistant. For local stuff, craigs list or task rabbit are good alternatives.