If the saying, “You have to spend money to make money,” is accurate, that person might have been talking about hiring and managing subcontractors for your freelance business. It may mean more out of pocket expenses, but there are some serious perks to consider:
- Scale your business faster. Offload specific tasks to a reliable subcontractor so you can move on to the next job more quickly.
- Improve customer service. Make it less likely to miss deadlines and get started on new projects faster. Fast, reliable service is key to earning return business and referrals for new business.
- Expand your offerings. Are there related services for your business that are not in your wheelhouse? Maybe you have a thriving photography business but aren’t great at touch-ups or other services. Retain customers and win more jobs with subcontractors who can fill the gaps.
- Fill your back office. Maybe the areas where you fall short are back-office management, marketing, accounting, inventory, etc. Pay it forward to other fellow entrepreneurs and find people whose solo hustles meet your needs.
Planned appropriately, the costs of subcontractors can increase your revenue rather than drain it. So what do you need to know about managing this next stage of growth for your business? We’ve got you covered.
Figure out what you need
If you’re using a tool like Solo Hustle, go back and look for clues in past jobs:
- Find proposals where you lost the job—were there any requested services that you could not fulfill?
- Look at jobs completed after the deadline—what slowed you down or caused you to miss a deadline?
- Check your invoices—are they going out on time? Are you receiving payments on time?
Once you’ve identified places where it makes sense to seek help, start searching for the right people for your roles.
Find the right people
Once you know what you need, write a job description. While you’re not hiring someone full-time (right now…), a job description will keep you on track looking for the right qualifications. It will also make the intro conversations with potential subcontractors much more straightforward and ensure they are clear about your needs.
Now start searching:
- Where do you advertise your services? If you are looking for someone with similar skills and qualifications, start where you find your clients. Bonus: They might also have their clients with whom you can collaborate, growing your business right off the bat.
- Look at services such as Upwork, Toptal, Fiverr, SuperSourcing, PeoplePerHour, and more. These are also a great way to get a better idea of what you might need to pay for the services you seek.
- Seek referrals. Talk to your fellow side hustlers. Ask on local chat groups, check-in with local artisan groups, and more.
Create a subcontractor contract
We’ve talked before about the importance of client contracts. Having one with your subcontractors is equally as important. The essential items to include are:
- Deliverables. Be specific about what you expect them to complete, what formats and types of files must be delivered, and fully detailed deadlines.
- Pay rate. This is self-explanatory—will they be paid by the hour or per project and what amounts—but you should also include how payment will be made and when. For instance, if you need to receive compensation from the client first, make that clear.
- Non-disclosure and other legal items. If necessary, include a clause ensuring the privacy of your business and/or your client’s business and making clear that the client will own the intellectual property rights to the completed work.
Have a subcontractor version of your client contract
While creating new contracts, make sure to have a version of your client contract that clarifies you may outsource specific tasks to a subcontractor. Include a copy of the subcontractor’s contract, but consider whether or not to share the subcontractor’s contact information. You want all communication to flow through you.
Use your tools
If you’re using a tool like Solo Hustle to manage your business, make sure you are tracking your subcontractors as well:
- Create contacts for all subcontractors, track notes on their skills, tie them to the projects for which they’ve been hired, and manage contracts and invoices through the system.
- Ensure consistency across jobs by creating templates for contracts and invoices in the system.
- Keep track of the availability of your subcontractors by tracking their calendars within your system.
- Include services you frequently farm out to subcontractors in your price book so your proposals are clear and accurate.
Expansion can be scary, especially for a business you have created and cultivated all on your own. But understanding when it’s time to seek additional help is crucial to reaching the next stage of your business.