That Freelance Life: Asking For Help + Not Getting Burned
Image c/o the boss babes @Flybrow
Back with some more freelance goodness for you! Once you've decided to take the leap into the freelance world you'll quickly learn that you can't do everything. A freelance painter may not be the best accountant or business manager. Additionally, maybe you're a freelance content creator and marketer who has an accounting background (moi!) but to scale your business you should be working on your business, not the admin things that can be outsourced. And the best part, at some point (hopefully), you will have so much work coming your way that you'll need support from an assistant/ part-time help. #freelancegoals
Here are a few of my tips about asking for help, where to find it, and how to protect YOU and your business. I recently got burned from a previous contractor (more on that towards the end of the post), so I'm hoping my mistakes can help you never be in my position.
KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP
- While most of us are superheros (freelancers get sh*t done), be in tune to your business needs and don't fight asking for help
- Asking for help doesn't mean you're less talented or not good at something, it means you've identified an area of your business that could use an expert or tasks that can be taken off your plate so that you can focus on making things happen for your core business
- Can you identify 20 hrs worth of work that can be done by an intern or assistant? Get one!
- Hire an accountant. It will make your life SO much easier and keep you from getting in trouble with the IRS. In the end it will most likely SAVE you money. Think of your accountant as an investment and figure out a way to pay for one no matter what it takes.
Where to find help
Legal Zoom: an amazing resource especially if you want to incorporate. I did my entire Pursuit Digital S. Corp through Legal Zoom. Again, talk to an accountant before deciding what the right move is for you. There's a few different ways you can structure your business and a tax accountant can provide insightful information on the pros and cons of each.
Boss Ladies Resource Guide: a vetted guide to Boss Lady lawyers, accountants, graphic designers, and more.
I love Creatives: a great spot to find creatives, photographers, etc!
Craigslist + Social Media: a great way to find assistants and interns!
Your Network: here's where it gets tricky. Definitely utilize your network + Linkedin to find support. It's always nice to know someone who knows someone that could be your potential employee, however, I would strongly advise NOT to hire friends. Deep diving into this next...
Don't Get Burned + Protect Yourself
For most of us, our business is the biggest endeavour we will ever embark on. It takes serious guts to take the leap to self-employment, immense drive to make it happen, and insane amounts of work to keep the business alive. Which means we need to protect it like it's our first born.
No one cares about your career growth more than you—no one
This is something I realized back at Hautelook and even said in my first Career Contessa interview. It's a quote I try to remember all the time to keep myself motivated and not depend on other people to makes things happen for me but somehow I forgot the mantra as it relates to people I bring into my business. Everyone is looking out for themselves. ALWAYS. And not everyone's route to that career growth is honest or ethical. Sadly, I'm experiencing this right now with an ex-contractor. She worked for me for 2 years, learned all my tips and tricks, and farmed my contacts until I finally realized it and let her go. Come to find out she's starting a competing business to Pursuit Digital AND ripped off my logo almost 100%; working files she had access to while I employed her. Yup, it's no fun and that's an understatement. As I try to work through how this could've possibly happened, especially because she started out as a friend, I keep reminding myself :
THE CREAM ALWAYS RISES TO THE TOP!
COVER BANDS DON'T HAVE FANS!
It really sucks and I wish I would've done things differently. Here's how I would've protected myself:
- Create an employment contract (Rocket Lawyer is my go-to) with all of your contractors, assistants, part-time and full time employees that outlines EVERYTHING: compensations, confidentiality, and term/termination.
- Don't give any one person access to ALL.THE.THINGS. Seems pretty straight forward but when you have an assistant that's supposed to help you with ALL. THE. THINGS you give them access. Just don't until you have truly vetted their intentions.
- Similar to the above, don't have any one person work on every part of you business. ie: don't let them know too much. Once they do it's pretty easy for them to up and leave and try to compete.
- Don't work with friends. Pretty much everyone has said this at some point but for some reason it never sticks and I fell in the camp of "it will never happen to me!"
- IF you do work with a friend, make the deliverables and expectations very cut and dry. There should be no blurred lines between your work relationship and your friendship. OVER communication is key.
- Trust your gut. About 6 months before I let my ex-contractor go, I KNEW something was up but I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Don't give ANYONE the benefit when it comes to your first born.
Back in a few weeks with some more freelance life tips and tricks. Please let me know if there are any specific topics you want me to cover going forward! Btw, I'm starting to share articles related to entrepreneurship and owning your own business on my Facebook page (follow me!)