You’ve spent your blood, sweat, tears and time growing your fledgling service business into a successful, blossoming company. But you’re at that point where you’re going to have to make a hard decision – either scale back the growth, or bring in more people.
Deciding to go ahead and bring in subcontractors or hanging onto your “baby” for dear life is one of the hardest business decisions you’ll make. After all, you’ve poured yourself into the business and you really don’t want someone else messing it up.
But businesses are like kids. You can’t keep them in high chairs forever. Eventually, they’re going to go to school, get invited over for sleepovers and generally get taken care of by other people.
Likewise, you’ll need to learn to let go and let other people handle some of the tasks in your business, including some of your client work. Of course, that doesn’t mean you just drag over the first subcontractor you see and throw some work at them.
10 Smart Ways to Subcontract
- Understand that building a subcontractor relationship takes time. You need to get to know your subcontractor and they need to get to know you.
- Before you even consider hiring someone, ask your colleagues for recommendations. A great recommendation will go a long way towards insuring that you’re hiring someone who is good at what you need them to do.
- Hire the best subcontractor you can afford, not the cheapest one you can find. You may pay more than you think you can afford, but you’ll bank on a fine reputation instead of throwing money down the drain on a bad situation that could hurt your reputation.
- Get references, and actually call those references. If the references all give glowing reviews, you’re ready for the next step. If the references are less than glowing, you may want to find out why.
- Check the potential subcontractor’s portfolio and website. If their own site isn’t up to your standards, chances are, their work won’t be either.
- Consider a trial project. Contract them to do one small project and see how they handle it. If you ask them to edit a 500 word article that you wrote and they take 3 weeks, you know they’re probably not going to be a good fit. If they return 30 minutes later and have truly made the article better, you’re golden.
- Make sure you both sign a contract. Include how much they will be paid, allowances for increases in rates later on, a point at which the contract will be re-evaluated and specific instructions on what will happen if either one of you wants out of the contract. You’ll also need to include specific information on what happens if either one of you breaches the contract. You’ll also want to include a confidentiality clause. In any case, make sure you consult an attorney before signing any contract.
- Communicate effectively. Make sure that you provide clear instructions and that your subcontractor understands what you are wanting. If a mistake does happen or there is a miscommunication, review the situation with your subcontractor so that both of you understand what went wrong.
- Always review your subcontractor’s work. The only way you’ll be able to ensure your company’s quality is to review the work yourself (unless, of course, you’ve hired someone to serve as a project manager and that person knows exactly what you’re looking for).
- In the event that a subcontractor doesn’t work out, follow the instructions in the contract for termination. Don’t take it personally, don’t tell them they stink, but do give constructive feedback if they want it. Also, don’t let one bad experience turn you away from subcontracting.
Follow these ten tips and you can grow your business from a solo entrepreneurship to a company run on teamwork that handles several clients and many projects with ease.