As a freelancer and depending on the size of your projects, you may sometimes have to work with other freelancers to complete your assignments. But how do you structure such a collaboration? What do you need to do to ensure that everything goes smoothly?
In this article, we have chosen to offer you some recommendations to follow in order to make your collaborations a success. These tips are based on the many situations we have observed from our position as coaches of budding entrepreneurs.
Find the right profiles
What values do you care about in particular? It can be benevolence, mutual aid, creativity, ethics, efficiency, sustainability... It is important to look for people who share the same values as you. In other words, focus on the personality of the freelancers. Because you will need a good chemistry to create a team atmosphere and to bind it together in order to develop a common mission.
Develop a win-win collaboration
If you offer activities that are parallel and complementary to another freelancer, why not contact him/her to develop synergies that could help you expand your network, gain more clients, increase your visibility, etc.? You can recommend each other to your clients. This is the case, for example, of a nutritionist who collaborates with a sports coach (and vice versa) for the fitness of their respective clients.
Never forget your own needs
A healthy and lasting collaboration is based on mutual respect. If you are confronted with a person who only talks about him/herself and is not interested in you, this should be a warning sign. It is up to you to set your own boundaries from the get-go and to observe the other party's attitude, with a sympathetic but also critical mind. This advice is particularly relevant for young entrepreneurs, who may tend to undervalue themselves because they do not have much experience yet.
As mentioned earlier, if you are a young entrepreneur, you may be inclined to accept any offer of collaboration for fear of running out of clients and money. However, just because you are starting out or it is a more financially complicated time for you does not mean that you should accept everything. In your entrepreneurial journey, you will soon find that many people are not as generous and caring as you are.
Let's take the example of an entrepreneur we coached. Shortly after his launch, he collaborated with another self-employed person. The aim was to help this self-employed person to set up a training course in a field he did not master. The entrepreneur agreed to help him on a voluntary basis because in exchange he would gain a larger address book and visibility. Unfortunately, in retrospect, he realised that the freelancer had simply taken advantage of his expertise without giving him the benefit of his network in return. The name of his company did not even appear in the communication about the training in question. So the trust was broken. As you can see, it is very important to identify the opportunistic profiles around you and to keep them out of your way in order to maintain your confidence and self-respect.
Set the terms for the collaboration while still allowing for flexibility
In order to avoid this type of setback and to maximise the chances of a good collaboration with a peer, we recommend that you formalise it in writing. To do this, you should identify your own "musts" and non-negotiable limits in advance, as well as your vision, values, the method of remuneration, the duration of your collaboration, the distribution of tasks and time. However, try to keep it as simple as possible, avoiding rigid and restrictive rules. Most self-employed people have chosen this status because of the flexibility it offers! For example, in the framework of a collaborative mission, it is important to have common working hours in order to be able to communicate on the development of the project, but also to respect people's work rhythm. Some of them may need to work staggered hours and start their day later.
Think beforehand about how you are going to charge for a collaborative service
Who invoices and how much? This is a headache for many self-employed people. It is imperative to ensure that you invoice correctly if you want to break even and not end up in an illegal situation. Will you issue a single invoice in your name and then your partners will invoice you for their services? Or will each freelancer invoice his/her own service with amounts in line with his/her assignment? In any case, it is important from the beginning to inform your client about your collaboration with other freelancers.
You should pay particular attention to collaborations that involve content creation. For example, if you have to create content for a training course, it is important to invoice upfront for the time spent on creating and writing it if you do not want to risk having your training course delivered by someone else one day... Also remember to clarify the conditions of re-use of the content and the copyright.
Use the right tools to communicate effectively
Making use of tools that make your collaboration and communication easier on a daily basis (Slack, Skype, or other) is definitely worthwhile. You should also ensure that you set up a process that encourages communication by offering a regular videoconference. This will allow you to discuss the progress of the project and everyone can present their priorities or ask for feedback. Depending on the size of your project, a management tool such as Trello or Asana may also be useful for monitoring and distributing tasks.
We hope that this article has given you some ideas on how to start and succeed in your collaboration with other freelancers and we encourage you to follow this kind of approach. Collective intelligence is the best breeding ground for entrepreneurship!
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