Putting Your Foot Down with Contractors

Devon-McDonald by

Part of my role in recent months has been to manage independent contractors for internal marketing initiatives. Some of my experiences have been wonderful… others, have been down right maddening.

A couple of lessons that I’ve learned recently about when to put your foot down with outsourced resources:

  • In your initial conversations/interviews with candidates for a contracting opportunity, if you feel like the individual is giving off an attitude or sense of entitlement – cut them off immediately. Remember you are in control, and while this person will not technically be working at your company, you will be interacting with and depending on them to meet your goals. Don’t take your chances with bad attitude, regardless of the freelancer’s highly qualified resume.
  • Once you have starting working with this individual, if you feel as though you are not the top priority – it’s time to find a new resource.If the freelancer is constantly mentioning that they have so many projects right now, and they are pushing back on deadlines because of it, again, this is an issue. There are FAR too many qualified individuals out there, particularly in this market, to stand by a poor-performing contractor hoping that next time they will deliver. If this person doesn’t have the time, they shouldn’t have agreed to take on the responsibilities in the first place. Aim to establish a point of contact with a few different quality resources from the start to sure that you will not be stuck in a pickle if one contractor lets you down.
  • Finally, like the old saying goes, “Cheat me once, shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me.” If you let a contractor get away with pushed deadlines and poor quality work over and over again, you have yourself to blame. In the eyes of your supervisors, this individual’s product is a reflection of you and your efforts – don’t be made to look a fool.

The best way to find trustworthy and reliable resources is to use your network. One benefit of working with OpenView, a Boston venture capital firm, is that we offer our portfolio company advice on the industry’s top external resources to utilize if there is a particular need. For instance, OpenView is connected with Junta42, a site that connects businesses with the best matched marketing contractors, at no cost to the business.

For expansion stage companies, hiring external resources for certain areas of the business such as marketing is often a great option, particularly if you don’t have the capacity to bring someone on full time. OpenView’s Legal Principal, Jeremy Aber, is also an excellent resource that our portfolio uses for creating contracts for these types of engagements with contracts.

If hiring an external contractor is ultimately the path that you choose to take, make sure that you have the right fit (personality and professional qualifications) and that you are managing properly. Make your expectations (timeline, price, quality, etc) clear from the get-go!

For additional information and tips about managing freelancers, please check out Inc.com’s recent blog post by Christine Lagorio.