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Are two heads better than one?

Written by Maari Casey on March 13, 2024

Why Freelancers Should Start Delegating and Collaborating to Scale Their Business

When we start building our business, we are still trying to navigate what we need to get done to be successful. Once you’ve reached the place where you are making money, have solid clients, and are establishing clear processes, the next step is starting to delegate. 

Firstly, congratulations on making it to this stage. You, my freelancing friend, are a successful freelancer!  Now it’s time to take those processes, write out some SOPs, and start delegating. It’s time to move some of those “less important” things off your plate and taste the sweet taste of freedom from the “gotta do all the things” treadmill of self-employment.

But where should you start? Automations? Virtual assistants? New tech? We actually want to focus on scaling by growing with other freelancers (aka subcontractors). 

When you’re a freelancer, you are a one-person show, and there are only so many hours in the day. When you start to find yourself turning work down that you’d like to do because of your bandwidth, it’s a good sign that working with subs might be the best option for you to scale up. 

We know there are a lot of worries and fears about using subs, so we hope to make you feel more comfortable in leveling up your business like the boss that you are. 

Setting expectations with subs

One of the most common fears about allowing an “outsider” to do your work is that it won’t be done as well as you could do it yourself, or that you won’t know what’s happening during the day to day of the project. But here’s the secret: delegating doesn’t mean losing control. It means gaining leverage! 

When you start working with other talented freelancers or subcontractors, you can free up your precious time and energy to focus on the tasks that truly light your fire and bring in the big bucks. Managing expectations with subs before you start to work together will help keep those worries about losing control and sacrificing quality of work at bay.

The truth is your sub won’t do the same kind of work as you, because…well, they aren’t you. Set the expectation with them the same way you set it with your clients.

  • What does success look like for you? (quality, delivery, communication)
  • What are your expectations and mandatories? (number of check-ins and rounds of revisions)
  • When do you need to see the work? (timing and final delivery)
  • What are you paying for this work? (project, hourly, budget)

Then – and trust me, this is the hard part – let them work. Your tendency (as was mine) will be to hover and micromanage, and then feel bad and not give clear feedback. It can become an uncomfortable situation for all involved, so use this worksheet and checklist to ensure you are setting things up for them clearly and managing the project without bugging them too much.

Remember if you micromanage them, then it’s not a delegation.

Setting expectations with clients
It’s good business practice to inform clients when you’re using freelancers. Be fully transparent and reassure them you’ll maintain regular communication. Explain that while your business utilizes freelancers, you remain the primary point of contact. Assure clients that this approach allows access to diverse skills and perspectives, enhancing project outcomes.

Remember

  • Be transparent and clear upfront
  • Share the benefit with them
  • Be flexible and responsive

How much can I pay and when do I start?
When I discuss “delegation” with freelancers, the chicken and the egg question always comes up: Do I need to get freelancers so I can grow, or should I grow first so I can afford freelancers? 

The answer is, you don’t have to do either. 

As a freelancer, you are constantly building a network of other freelancers (especially if you’re part of Unco’s Discord community), and so you are building your own subcontracting pool. When you find someone whose work, professionalism, and cost seem to be a good fit with your business goals, talk to them about starting on a small project together. Set expectations and a clear process, and give it a try! You’ll want to have some documentation in place, but the most successful partnerships will be based on transparency and clear communication. Making the transition from worker to manager is a hard one, but it’s necessary if you want to grow your business past your own bandwidth. The upside of building a freelance team to support your business far outweighs the fears, mistakes, and lessons you’ll work through. With a team of subcontractors, you will be able to grow into larger projects, learn from others, battle the freelance isolation we all face, and even take a break while still making income.

So what are you waiting for? Your scalable business is just a few steps away. And YES two heads are better than one… as long as you are delegating to one.