Posted by 2013-10-11 10:33:32
Title: I am a solopreneur. I would like to use partnerships and sub-contracting to grow my business. Do you...
Having a virtual team certainly comes with its advantages. Most significantly, a virtual workforce grants business owners enhanced flexibility. However, contractors will also often have other priorities that compete for their time. They must be allowed to direct their own work and the way it is done. They may be passionate for the clients they serve, but it is a rare contractor or partner who will throw their hearts into growing your business with you.
Your concern about control and quality is an important one. Taking on a virtual workforce does not exempt you from many of the management issues companies with employees face. Here are four steps to assist you as you prepare to manage your virtual workforce:
1. Structure the relationships right. Subcontracting arrangements and partnership agreements come with specific legal considerations. Make sure you are properly protected. Seek legal advice from a reliable source; there are many online resources and small business lawyers ready to help you. Just as good fences make good neighbours, good contracts make great partnerships.
2. Document your processes. A good operations manual will help you be a more efficient manager and will keep your virtual team focused on their work. It will also help you recruit the right people and bring new contractors and partners on-board.
3. Use technology. There are many no-cost and low-cost tools that can help you stay up to date with the progress of your virtual workforces’ work. Invest in tools that best match the type of work you need people to do – from project management to document sharing to client relationship management and beyond. Use your operations manual to inform your choice of tools with a focus on efficiency and your ability to oversee what is happening.
4. Be a good hiring manager. When interviewing, have a clear idea of the competencies you need. Once hired, sub-contractors and partners will need feedback, oversight and encouragement. They will need to learn how you like to work and what they need to know about your brand. Budget your time to ensure you continually manage your team.
Growing from a solopreneur to a small virtual business owner is a great milestone. Congratulations on taking this step.
Lisa Taylor, President, Challenge Factory Inc