November 5, 2015
Here’s the blessing and the curse of being a successful independent – at some point, you may have too much work to handle on your own. You can take it all on yourself, but you run the risk of sacrificing quality for quantity.
But can you be independent…with a partner? The smartest independents, like any good businesspeople, know when to ask for help.
Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to incorporate as a small business, order new business cards and start picking out office spaces together. I’m saying that you should have a bench full of players you can go to when you need to. And if you’ve got a good network, you should have no shortage of talented, trusted colleagues. But what’s the tipping point? When do you raise the white flag? And how do you hire a contractor, when you’re one yourself?
For me, it came down to three key parts:
- Know Your Limits. I’m an award-winning creative director and copywriter. But what I’m not is a project manager, production expert, or a web developer. So when opportunities come my way that require some skill sets outside my wheelhouse, I reach out to the people I trust to back me up. My client gets quality work, I’m not overextended, my colleague gets a piece of the pie, and everyone wins. Even if you’ve got the skills, but not the time, it’s a smart move to share the load.
- Ask Soon. As in, as soon as you know you want this piece of business, or as soon as you know your schedule is too packed for you to do it yourself, raise your hand. This way, you don’t get into the (horribly bad) habit of hitting your network up at the last minute. Remember, they’re not sitting around waiting for your call. Also, the sooner you ask, the more options you’ll have to choose from, so you can choose the right partner for the project.
- Set The Rules. Sit down and hammer out an agreement. Who’s the lead contractor? Who’s the sub? Who issues the invoice – or juggles the tax issues? It’s worth it, but it’s not always easy to hire another you. Once you get a taste of hiring a contractor yourself – even someone you know and trust – you’ll have a new appreciation for your clients.
So there are some thoughts to consider – a partner can help you keep the business you have, pick up the business you want, and build stronger relationships all around. And as an independent, you can never have too many strong relationships.
How many partners do you have? Or even better, share your #bettertogether story with @MBOPartners!
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