What You Should Know About Hiring Subcontractors

bigstock-stressed-business-woman-workin-37083382-2If your business has grown enough, you may be in a bit of a pickle. You don’t have the cash flow to hire your first full-time employee yet, but trying to wear all the hats is limiting your growth potential.

The solution? Hire subcontractors who can do the things you need done when (and only when) you have the cash to pay for their help.

It’s an elegant solution, but one that isn’t without pitfalls.

My Hiring Horror Story

I hired two subcontractors two years after I launched my business. Both were friends.

One, whom we’ll call Kristy, did remarkably well. Kristy worked for me off and on over the next five years. I still contact her from time to time when I need help. I got lucky with Kristy.

The other, we’ll call Paula. Paula nearly destroyed my business.

With a client’s blessing, I’d hired Paula to draft three e-books which my client would be using to market his own business. I thought to save a bundle of time and double my earning potential by simply editing everything she wrote, freeing me to make more sales and pursue more lucrative projects.

Unfortunately, Paula decided to copy large sections of her book directly from Wikipedia. I only caught on to this deception by chance. I had to scramble to completely redo every book myself to get them into my client on time.

I felt sick. Didn’t Paula know she could have destroyed both my reputation and my livelihood? Didn’t she care?

When I confronted her, she got angry with me. Our friendship was over, but I learned a valuable lesson.

You must be just as careful about hiring subcontractors as you would be about hiring W2 employees.

I’ve since hired three more subcontractors. I didn’t want to lose any more friends, so I decided to use job boards to find people.

My first stab at this brought me 94 resumes from people who were completely unqualified. There wasn’t a single person I wanted to entrust with any part of my business anywhere in my inbox. I know, because it took me a long, fruitless day to go through them all and find out for sure.

The problem was not that great people weren’t out there. The problem was I’d utterly flubbed the job description. I had to learn how to write a good job description, something which would naturally attract people who would be perfect for the role while inspiring those who were less-than-suitable to self-select and avoid replying.

This meant setting realistic expectations for what my contractors could expect to do on my behalf, how often I’d have work for them, and how much they could expect to get paid. I also included some details on the kind of personalities I was looking for.  In short, I had to create a hiring plan. This was also a good opportunity to make sure the position I was describing fell within federal guidelines for the independent contractor designation. If it didn’t, I’d have to go back to the drawing board, as I was not in a position to start paying someone else’s taxes.

When I started doing that, I started finding people I could really work with. And if I couldn’t work with them, I didn’t lose anything by sending them on their way and finding someone else to work with.

Don’t be afraid to get help.

Often, we’re afraid to turn even the smallest part of our business over to other people. We think they’ll mess something up, or we think we can’t afford it.

Fortunately, you can correct mistakes when they happen, and the tax breaks you’ll get by paying subcontractors might even allow the people you hire to pay for themselves. It’s a matter of understanding how much you could earn in one hour versus how much you could pay someone to do relatively simple work for the same hour. If there’s a significant difference, you want to free up time to go out and earn more…especially when you’ve gotten so slammed that you find yourself wishing you could clone yourself.

There are a lot of great people out there who can help you meet your business goals. You just need to find them. Do that, and you can breathe a sigh of relief while removing at least one of your hats (at least for a little while).