Subcontracting, part 1

During the early days of running my own business, the concept of hiring a subcontractor provided significant anxiety. My fear stemmed from the fact that the design would not come from my own hand, and that my client would consider their project of lesser value if I were not attending to it personally. I quickly learned a couple fundamental realities:

  1. The client had a problem that required a solution, and as long as it met their expectations and came within their budget, the exact process was unimportant;
  2. Despite not having done a layout personally, NOTHING left my studio (concrete or virtual) without my sign-off. I would maintain my standards — and that was that.

And so, I slowly embraced the idea of partnering with other creatives to ensure my deadlines were met and that my clients received the service they deserved. To this day, the ratio of in-house work vs subcontracted work remains low, but I won’t shy away from utilizing this outlet if required.

From my perspective I can see 2 key reasons why a self-employed start up would lean on subcontractors, and they are:

  1. You are too busy to keep up with your current workload;
  2. You are getting by okay by doing the work yourself, but do not have sufficient time to step away from your desk and promote your business and/or generate new business.

My good friend William Cole of the Quick group of companies recently shared his take on subcontracting and I thought it would make a valuable addition to this discussion. His synopsis is captured in this short video.

A third key reason to subcontract occurs when you do not possess the skills or equipment to complete an assigned task. I don’t have a printing press at my small studio, but I rely on several local and national vendors to handle that. But there’s a difference between brokering and subcontracting. And that might be best addressed in a separate posting.

In part 2, I’ll discuss what it’s like to play the part of the subcontract. Something most freelancers will no doubt be familiar with.

I’d like to finish by saying thanks to Bill for his time and contribution. To read more from Bill, please visit his Sales and marketing blog here.

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Carson D. Samson

I do stuff. All kinds of stuff. And I really, really like Star Wars.