My business exploded in late July and early August of 2016. I’d been in business for about a year at that point, and my business had been growing in fits and starts during that time. But, all of the sudden, it just outright burst through the ceiling that had seemingly been on it. That growth continued – it’s still growing – and for a long time, I struggled to keep up with everything by myself. A few times I received the advice that I should hire a subcontractor, but I knew I just wasn’t there yet, at least financially.
In my most recent blog post, I wrote about celebrating your successes. I think that finally being able to hire a subcontractor is a success of mine, and I thought it might be helpful to other virtual assistants and social media managers if I wrote about how I knew it was time to hire a subcontractor. As with anything in business, it wasn’t something that was clear-cut with a sparkling moment of clarity that yes, now is the time! But, I did finally realize that it had to happen.
Here were the three main catalysts for this decision:
- Four of my current clients requested to increase their clients this past spring (of 2017). One of them wanted to increase her hours immediately, and she almost doubled her hours, going from five to nine per month. The other three wanted to increase their hours this summer. Two of them have indeed increased their hours, starting on June 1st, and both went from five to ten hours per month. I’m still waiting to hear from the fourth, but as far as I know, she still wants to increase her hours, as well.
- I continue to have a waitlist with upwards of 8-9 people on it, pretty much all the time.
- I felt desperate to start growing other aspects of my business that continually kept getting left on the back burner because client work always needs to be my #1 priority, since it’s the breadwinner of my business and my livelihood. These other aspects include writing blog posts, revamping old products in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, creating new products for my TpT store, working through online courses I’ve purchased but never completed, and marketing my blog posts and business.
Therefore, I felt that I needed to come up with a better way of meeting the demand on my services. For quite a long time, despite the recommendations that I start hiring subcontractors as a way to scale my business, I was resistant to this idea. It seemed like a lot of work and hassle to set up and get going, and the biggest concern, in my mind, was confidentiality. Plus, I didn’t have an accountant or a CPA at that time with whom I could talk through these things. My alternative idea for trying to meet this demand – not necessarily the demand on my services, specifically, but the demand for virtual assistants in the Teachers Pay Teachers niche – was coaching. I provided one-on-one coaching for two women, and then I created my Teacher-Seller Virtual Assistant School and launched two cohorts of it, with seven women in each cohort.
Unfortunately, though, I felt like TSVAS wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped it would be. I don’t know for sure, but it seems, from my perspective, that my “graduates” aren’t getting clients and growing their businesses quite in the way that I’d hoped they would. But, of course, I have to remember that it was almost exactly 13 months from the day that I started my business before I was able to start working from home full-time (not that that’s everyone’s goal, but the main point here is that growing your business to the level of success that you want out of it doesn’t happen overnight, and I need to remember that for my “graduates'” success, too). I know that many, if not all, of them will get there eventually, but for now, I’ve still got people banging down my door.
All of that is to say that I finally gave in and decided to hire a subcontractor to work under me and to take some of my client work off my plate. Doing so would allow me, in the short term, to grant the requests of my current clients who wanted to increase their hours and, in the longer term, to bring some people off of my waitlist. Therefore, this is how I knew it was time to hire a subcontractor – when I needed an easier and more efficient way to meet the demand on my services that wasn’t being met by other attempts – and when it seemed like this was the only and obvious answer to keeping up with everything.
For the time being, I only have one subcontractor, and I’ve only delegated one service to her: Tailwind*. If I’m remembering correctly, about seven or eight of my current clients were having me do Tailwind for them, and it was taking up an estimated eight hours per week of my client work schedule. Therefore, being a relatively easy thing to learn to do and having an easy way to have a subcontractor work in (with Tailwind’s features to add collaborators with limited access), it made the most sense to me to delegate that. I’m still sort of hoping to be able to hire another subcontractor or two eventually, but most of my other services aren’t jumping out at me as easily delegate-able (shhh, it’s a word), and I’ve got my budget to mind.
Some other things that you should keep in mind when making this decision for yourself include:
- Your budget for paying a subcontractor (yes, I am kind of panicking about that still, if you’re wondering)
- How you will pay the subcontractor
- How the subcontractor will track the client time they work for your clients
- Having your subcontractor complete a Form W-9 (if you’re in the U.S.)
- The possibility of a Form 1099 for your subcontractor (again, if you’re in the U.S.)
- What services or tasks you’ll delegate to your subcontractor
- How you’ll onboard the subcontractor and bring him/her up to speed on what to do for your clients
- The contract agreement that you and your subcontractor will sign (that you should create)
- How you’ll notify clients of your subcontractor and get their approval to have the subcontractor take on some or all of their tasks (because one or two clients will refuse to agree, so keep that in mind and prepare a way to handle that, when it happens – because I’m assuming you don’t want to lose the client just because he or she refuses to allow the subcontractor to do the work)
- The fact that your subcontractor is not your employee, and therefore, you are not required to provide benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and so on
I hope you found this post helpful! I’m more than happy to write a follow-up post later with more details about how I set things up with my contractor on my FreshBooks* account, how I onboarded her with each client’s Tailwind services, and other things of that nature.
*Note: The asterisk indicates that this is my referral link to this online tool. I personally use these tools and recommend them to others; otherwise, I wouldn’t include the referral links! However, you should know that this means that I will receive a small compensation if you sign up using my referral link.
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