The downside of being a “lean” organization, however, is that projects can often demand components that are outside of your employees’ skill sets. And then you have to outsource. But by learning how to manage outsourced workers – or “strategic partners” as we like to describe them to clients – efficiently and frugally, small businesses can maintain their edge.
The key is negotiating contracts wisely. Most independent workers – and consultants in particular – will ask for an hourly rate. But typically most of us can’t afford to pay an hourly rate, which always has the potential to balloon, when we’re working on a fixed budget for an internal or client project.
A wiser course of action is to tie payment for contract work to clearly outlined deliverables. You and the contractor can then negotiate a flat fee around those deliverables, or even on a per-deliverable basis. The point is that you know the work is getting done, without fretting about whether you’re hemorrhaging money with little to show.
It may be challenging to persuade your contractors to work on this payment model at first, but it’s well worth seeking out the ones who will. As long as you are honest about sticking to the scope of the deliverables, the working relationship should ultimately be good for both sides – and incite significantly less heartburn than outsourcing at an hourly rate.
***This article is adapted from the research and writing of Jocelyn K. Glei, a creative strategist with expertise in editorial, design and publishing. She regularly collaborates with Scott Belsky and the Behance Team, who run the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develop knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.