I’m a Solopreneur and I Need HELP: How to Prepare to Outsource Tasks to an Independent Contractor
It’s a tricky spot to be in. You’re a solopreneur – an independent contractor to your clients – and now YOU are at capacity with your work and need to outsource some responsibilities. Whether you’re bringing in a virtual assistant or someone in your field who does some of the things you do on a freelance basis, you’ll want to prepare for the new working arrangement.
Before you hire an Independent Contractor consider having these things in place before you start working together:
A list of tasks/responsibilities you will delegate – While you might not have specific assignments determined, at least know and communicate the types of tasks you’ll be outsourcing. For example, a few of the things I’m getting assistance with include: research for blog posts, proofreading, and keeping record of my business mileage. You’ll want to discuss your needs with your independent contractor to make sure the work is in line with their expectations and capabilities.
Independent contracting agreement – Having one of these puts it in black and white that the person helping you is NOT an employee. That’s extremely important because they are responsible for submitting all applicable federal, state, and local income taxes, and you’re not responsible for providing health insurance or other benefits. Besides that, you can define the type of work the independent contractor will do and the compensation rate, which will confirm you mutually agree on those points.
You can find samples and templates of agreements online to use as a starting point, or perhaps one of your professional contacts might be willing to share their format with you. Here’s one on docracy.com that appears rather straightforward and customizable. When I created my independent contracting agreement, I was fortunate to have a template available to me via Gosmallbiz.com, a membership-based resource for small business owners. Having subscribed to pre-paid legal services through LegalShield, I also gained the benefit of membership to Gosmallbiz.com. After I tweaked the agreement template to include the particulars of my situation, I emailed the document for review to the law office assigned to me via LegalShield. I then made adjustments based on my attorney’s advice and forwarded the agreement to my new assistant.
Confidentiality agreement – While we’d all like to think the people we work with will respect our confidential and proprietary information, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to agree to it in writing. A confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement will state that the independent contractor will not share the information you disclose to them with third parties or the public without your permission. Of course, any information already in the public domain or that is common knowledge doesn’t apply. This agreement is to get acknowledgement that your independent contractor isn’t going to share your financial info, business plans, client info, private emails, etc. with anyone without your O.K.
As with independent contracting agreements, you can also find plenty of sources of confidentiality agreement templates online (like this one on nolo.com for example). I found one through Gosmallbiz.com and added a non-compete clause.
I’ve also seen some examples of combined independent contracting and confidentiality agreements. Regardless, it’s advisable to have an attorney review any agreements you plan to use or sign.
A system for working together – The success of your working relationship will depend on how well you communicate and define how you’ll work together.
- How will you exchange information?
- How often will you meet or talk by phone?
- When are tasks due?
- Where will you store digital files that you both need to access?
- How – and how often – will the contractor track and report her time?
- What tools will you use to manage projects?
And prepare to have to write out processes for certain assignments. While they might be second nature to you because you’re so familiar with them, your independent contractor may need step-by-step instructions.
Going from doing everything yourself as a solopreneur to delegating tasks to another person is a big leap. Not only is it not easy to admit you can’t do it all effectively by yourself, but it can be difficult to put your trust in someone else. And you might question, will it be worth it?
There’s one way to find out.
Have you used an independent contractor as a personal assistant in your solo business? What tips do you have to share with other solopreneurs?
(Please note that the content of this post is for informational purposes only and in now way should be considered legal advice.)
By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post
Have you subscribed to my blog yet? RSS or email – the choice is yours!
Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I would add to the list a very concrete timeline with milestones. And something in the agreement about what happens if milestones are not met. That’s been my biggest problem with outsourcing.
Good one, Corey! Thanks for sharing that. I’m using Trello for assigning tasks and providing due dates on them. How do you approach setting timelines? Smart point about the agreement, too. I don’t have that specifically defined in my contract, but there’s a clause about terminating the agreement for unsatisfactory performance. It might be beneficial to better define that by including what you just mentioned and some other more detailed criteria.