And The Difference Between A Subcontractor Versus A Team Member
[Part 3 in series of 5] Are you trying to build your team? I’ve been there also it is a lot of work. So, I wanted to help you by letting you know some of the steps I took along the way. I’ve been discussing building your agency all month and today it is time to talk about how to build your virtual dream team.
Let’s discuss how to build your virtual dream team and the difference between a team member and a subcontractor. As we discuss building your agency it is important to also talk about the difference between a subcontractor and a team member in your business.
Subcontractor Versus Team Member
The first thing before beginning to build your virtual team is to define what that team will look like for you. Most will tell you that when you build your virtual team that there is no difference between a team member and a subcontractor. I, however, disagree.
Although a team member can also be a subcontractor for you they are different than a general sub. The general subcontractor is usually brought in for a limited time frame on a specific project. It is not long-term.
A team member, on the other hand, is long-term (as in working with a retainer client) and is usually loyal to your company.
The Differences Between A Team Member Versus Subcontractor
|Works with you long-term*||Works strictly on a project basis|
|Has a regular client(s) (retainer) with you*||Is not a regular member of your team|
|Although they may have his/her company,|
they are also loyal to you and your company
|Is loyal to self (their own company)|
Subcontractors Who Only Subcontract With Agencies
Many subcontractors that want to work with agencies only subcontract and do not take on clients themselves. They do not promote or market their business.
Why would they do this when they could earn more themselves? Those I have worked with who do this do not want to have to do marketing or deal with client drama and problems. Nor do they want the setup and onboarding and documenting of processes. Basically, they just want the work.
I actually prefer those who only subcontract when I build out my teams. They are, as I said, more long-term and loyal. Plus, they do not take on their own clients so they do not leave when they start making more on their own.
I cannot tell you how many online service providers I helped mentor and train while paying them to be on the team and as soon as they began getting their own clients they no longer worked with me. Please do not misunderstand, I was happy for them as well, but my business suffered until I realized this trend in my company. The time period was usually within a six-month period on average. Therefore, my turnover was every 6 months.
This is not good for you or your clients. Although if you have good processes in place the clients should not see any change during the transition. You, however, will wear yourself out interviewing, onboarding, and training a new team member every six months. And if you have multiple team members that have their own business they are promoting then you multiply that out because it probably means you are going through this every month with someone.
Steps To Build Your Virtual Team
We’ve discussed the first steps to starting to build your agency. Now you are ready to invite bring team members to your virtual team. Although you are ‘ready’ it does take some preparation.
“A virtual team is a group of remote workers who collaborate together to finish a project. A good virtual team is able to communicate effectively using apps or software and can consist of employees from a single company or employees of different companies.“Science of People
Prepare To Interview Prospective Team Members
How do you prepare for interviewing prospective team members? Let’s take a look at a few steps I use to help me with this process.
Step One: Prepare a detailed description of the task/work
If you have all your processes in place as discussed previously then this should be very easy. Viewing the detailed processes of the task, try to summarize what is needed on a regular basis for you or your client. For example, you may have listed out all of your processes for doing social media management but you do not want to put ALL of that out to the public. So you say you “need a social media manager who can schedule posts, engage with followers, and give monthly reports” (this is not nearly all they do, but is very general). This is part 1 of your preparation.
Step Two: Prepare a list of characteristics for your team
Prepare a list of characteristics you value and want on your team. What do you want your team to be known for overall? Is it organization, loyalty, honesty, timing, or that they are detail-oriented? Whatever you would like to see in your team and be known for be sure to include it in your posts or ads about hiring a team member. Using the same example of a social media manager, you may say that you are looking for a bright, honest, hardworking social media manager.
Step Three: List the must-have skills
Put together a list of the skills they must have in order to begin working with you and your client(s). Do they need to be able to use excel to keep records of followers, likes, engagement, etc? Should they be able to use a scheduler? Make a list of all the must-have skills. This is part 3 of your preparation.
Step Four: Put Your Copy Together
Combine all the above steps (#1, #2, & #3). Now it’s time to put the characteristics and the actual work experience, plus the skills together. You want to take the wording (or copy) from number one and weave the character into it. Then you will want to add the skills needed. Using the same example of a social media manager; you may say that you are “looking for a bright, honest, hardworking person who knows how to use a scheduler and excel worksheets, who can also post and engage on social media channels for the client(s).”
Step Five: Post your listing
It’s finally time to get the word out and let others know you are hiring a subcontractor. Post your ad or listing on social media, in your newsletters, in directories, and in other connections, you have right now. Make sure you are clear and concise about what you need. You may get a trickle of emails or could get hundreds of them, depending on the number of connections and the audience type.
No matter how many you receive, respond to all. Create an email response copy in your digital notes to let them know you going through all emails and will reach out if you need any other information. Please, go through them all after giving the initial email. Pick out only those who qualify according to character, skill level, and experience. Put them in order for you – who you believe to be most qualified and who stood out to you. Email this person only and ask additional questions.
Step Six: Reply to Email With Questions
Once you find one person who stood out most then email them and ask these questions. I suggest having the questions in your digital notes also to make it easy for yourself. You can quickly copy and paste them into an email.
I have a list of questions I ask via email before asking for an interview.
My Questions via Email:
- How long have you worked in the industry?
- What are you currently doing (type of work and with what industry)?
- What software programs can you use? Please list them with your level of expertise noted next to each software. Indicate whether you are a “Beginner, Intermediate, or Expert” with the software (please be honest).
- What do you love to do (work or task-related) and would do all day long if you could?
- What do you hate doing (work or task-related) and would be happy to never do again?
- Please list 3 references (prefer clients you worked with but will also accept past employers and 1 friend/family).
I ask #4 & #5 so that I can match them well with clients. If they love writing and dislike creating graphics then I would happily add them to the blogging team but not to the content team. It is important to match your team and clients expertly. Otherwise, you may see a high turnover rate and that is not fun for you or your clients.
Step Severn: The Interview
Next is the interview. For an interview, you must trust your gut and ask questions related specifically to the task they will perform. Yet, also start out conversationally and casually so that you can observe character and responses but also to help with nervousness.
- Check references
- View their website (if they have one) otherwise view their LinkedIn Profile.
- View all of their social media channels to be sure they will fit in your team image and with your team. View these prior to the interview in case there is anything you have questions about.
- Go over their skills (that you requested in the email) just to confirm them.
- Take note of their professionalism in person and in the way they speak with you. It is alright to keep it casual but it should also remain professional.
If you do not feel the first one is a match go on to your next pick. Interview them and continue to do this until you find the person that you want to add to your team.
Have an email template in your digital notes ready for those you interview but do not choose. I always let them know that I was keeping their information for future projects. I created a chart in my digital OneNote that included name, interview date, and skills (I actually put the type of client in a column each, like blogging, social media, etc.). I also had a column for notes so that I could add information I learned in the interview.
|Sarah Jane||xx/xx/yyyy||X||Good fit for future blogging client (need social media at this time)|
|Thomas Smith||N/A – no interview||X||Not a good fit at this time – just starting & no knowledge|
|Patricia Jones||xx/xx/yyyy||X||Hired xx/xx/yyyy|
Step Eight: Make The Offer
Finally, it is time to choose the person and make your offer. I usually offered a percentage of what the client package was at the time. Most agencies offer this or a flat hourly fee and at times flat project fee. The percentage can be anything from 40% – 70% depending on your expenses and overhead. It is your business and your decision. So plan it as you would like.
After you choose the person, send them an email and make an offer. Once the candidate has accepted you will begin the onboarding processes. Just as you onboard clients, you must onboard your team. This means sending a welcome letter, and contract, and inviting them to any software you use (specifically with the client) but also do not forget to add them to your own project management system.
These are the beginning steps of adding team members to your business. It is a lot of work but will lead to more freedom for you once your agency is built.
I wish you well in searching for that new virtual team member. If you have questions feel free to ask me on social media or email.
I love helping you with your business. If you need further help adding team members, please reach out to me so that we can chat. Or simply set up a Free Mini-Session so I help you.
To Your Continued Success,
If you have questions about building your online service agency book a Free Mini-Session with me today!
*Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer nor do I specialize in labor laws so be sure to check with a lawyer. In some States, if a contractor works with you on a regular basis it can be viewed as an employee. Be sure to do a contract and spell out all scope of work. Do not dictate when they must work (hours) and do not provide equipment to your contractors. Make yourself aware of IRS regulations regarding contractors (or laws within your country if not in the U.S.). These statements and this blog is written in good faith to help others but it is your responsibility to make sure your business is keeping the law and I do not take any responsibility for it.