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A Freelancer's Learning Curve: How to Trust Someone Else With Your Business

by Jill Foster on May 20, 2009

More than once, I’ve heard someone refer to her business as ‘a child.’
I can relate to that feeling. I worry about every little detail of my business like a mother hen. When I started looking at how I could hand off at least part of my work load, that in-depth involvement turned out to be problematic.

Wanting to – precisely – duplicate myself
I started making lists of specific tasks that anyone could do, but as soon as I wrote something down, I crossed most items back off the list. No one else would handle a particular task the same way I would. I kept imagining some well-intentioned assistant completely bungling even simple emails and costing me clients. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I didn’t trust anyone to do things exactly the way I wanted them done.

What could I do?
I needed to get some work off my plate — and fast! — but I was already stressing out at the idea of handing even a part of my business into someone else’s care. The solution turned out to have two parts.

  • First, I went looking for someone I knew I could trust. I thought about friends, past co-workers and even family. I focused in on the qualities and skills I knew I wanted and found someone I knew who fit the bill and needed some work.
  • Second, I wrote down my methods for doing everything. I’ve gotten a few laughs at how precisely I want someone to follow my guidelines, but they generally guarantee that the end result is pretty close to what I want.

Most projects don’t end up exactly the way I would have done them on my own: especially with creative work like writing, there are plenty of equally valid answers to any question.

But the end results are almost always something that I’m comfortable associating my business’ name with.

When they aren’t, I update the guidelines I use for a given type of project and examine my communications to figure out what went wrong. It’s been a journey to develop a relationship with another writer to the point that a given project matches my guidelines, but it’s been worth it.

There’s certainly a learning curve in bringing in a new person to your business [image Winding Road by Liutao, Creative Commons] — especially when you’re used to working on your own. But with a little trust and guidance, that curve doesn’t have to be too steep.

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Guest post by Thursday Bram. Thursday offers content marketing through Hyper Modern Consulting, as well as more traditional writing services. She blogs about the shift between freelancing and business through her personal blog Thursday Bram and can be reached at www.twitter.com/thursdayb.

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