How to be a GREAT contractor or subcontractor

I may be a one-person business, but that doesn’t mean I’m alone. In fact, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a one-person business is that I benefit from the cross-fertilization that comes from contracting and subcontracting with fellow infopreneurs. I subcontract out specialized work I can’t do myself, and I work as a subcontractor for a number of businesses that bring me in for my specialized skills. Over the years, I have learned a lot about what is involved in being a good contractor and subcontractor. Here are my rules for successful contracting and subcontracting.

The 5 Rules of Contracting Out Work

  • Choose a subcontractor you trust, then give that person all the background information possible. There will always be ambiguities and things that seem blindingly obvious to you but aren’t intuitive to your subcontractor. Explain, explain, and explain some more.
  • Be clear on what you want for a deliverable from your subcontractor, in terms of format, medium, depth and breadth, budget, and timeline.
  • Stay in touch with the subcontractor throughout the engagement. Schedule regular check-ins to identify any issues and confirm that the project is on track. Provide clear feedback and ensure your subcontractor is on the same page with you.
  • Be sure to include in your project budget time for overseeing and working with your subcontractor; even the best subcontractor needs regular feedback and guidance.
  • Pay your subcontractor as soon as you are invoiced; do NOT wait until you have been paid. Remember, you are your subcontractor’s client and the happier your subcontractor is, the more likely they will be to go the extra mile for you.

The 5 Rules of Being a Great Subcontractor

  • The contractor is your client, just like any other client. Be sure you give your contractor the same focus and priority you do your other clients.
  • Ask lots of questions. Remember that you haven’t talked with the ultimate client directly, and you need plenty of context to help you understand all the parameters of the project.
  • Get passionate about the project. Your contractor is putting their name on your work, so make sure that what you deliver is the highest quality possible.
  • If, after you have spent a quarter of your time or so, you aren’t getting the results you expected, pause and call the contractor. Discuss how you can pivot, expand the project or otherwise change the focus of the work. Don’t surprise the contractor at the end of the project.
  • If something goes wrong or there was a miscommunication, accept ownership over resolving the problem (if not responsibility for the mistake). Work with the contractor to keep the ultimate client as happy as possible.

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