As you continue prospering as a freelancer, a point may come when you start getting more work than you can possibly handle without help. You are bound to get to this point if you continue delivering what you promise your clients, and what your clients expect. You are bound to get to this point if you continue charging reasonable rates for your work. You are bound to get to this point if you continue putting energy towards business development. Having gotten to that point, where you get more work than you can possibly handle at a person level, you have two options. The first option is that of simply telling the clients who give you extra work that you can’t handle it, and just letting them give it to other (competing) freelance workers. The second option is that of building up a freelance work team, and using it to handle such work that you can’t do personally (but having the time work under your supervision, so that the clients’ expectations are met). This, in our opinion, is the option that makes more sense. But having taken this route, you will have to tackle the challenge of managing the freelance work team effectively.
So, what does managing a freelance work team in an effective manner entail? Well, it entails several things, among them:
Expectation Management: The members of the team may get to a point where they start imagining that you are getting very much out of their labor, and paying them very little. You therefore have to manage expectations. At the same time, you also need to ensure that you are fair, and that the people who do the work get to enjoy its fruits (by, for instance, ensuring that a certain percentage of what you are paid goes to the people who do the actual work). Managing expectations is also about making the members aware of the fact that there are times when you may not have work. It is about making them aware of the fact that there are times when you (as a team) may have to deal with demanding/unpleasant clients.
Motivation: The objective should be to get the team members to ‘own’ the team, so that they are self-motivated, and so that they don’t view working in the team as some sort of a favor to you.
Enforcement Of Discipline: This should be mostly done in a positive manner (through things like suspensions from the team and expulsions from the team as the very last resorts). At no point should you shout at team members. You mustn’t be petty, in terms of expecting team members to report to work at certain times ‘on the dot,’ not allowing them to surf the net when they have no work and so on. The team needs rules, but these should be the minimum necessary for its proper functioning.
Proper, Ongoing Training: It is only through this that your team can keep on delivering (and over-delivering) on clients’ expectations. If the clients are awarding you work on account of your competence, you have to ensure that the team members to whom you opt to delegate the work in turn have the same level, or a higher, level of competence as you. It takes training to achieve this.
Proper Ongoing Business Development: You need to be bidding continually and otherwise networking with clients and other stakeholders, to ensure that you have a continual flow of work, and thus to ensure that, if possible, your team never runs out of work.