I began working with a new client last week in my Automated Authority Marketing Program, and of course, I needed access to his various online services being managed by his virtual team. It’s been over a week, and I’m still gathering all the info that I need to be able to access his accounts, figure out what’s going on there, and begin to track some metrics. His web designer had been MIA for almost a month, and we were talking about taking legal action to retrieve his info so that he could access his web site. Yikes! Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, as she miraculously surfaced and said that she’d been dealing with personal issues and provided the info that we needed. IMHO, it’s a pretty poor practice to fail to let your clients know what’s going on, regardless of the issue.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with this issue as I begin work with new clients. Many times, service business owners are so relieved to have delegated something, whether that’s administrative tasks, social media, marketing, web site updates, etc. that they don’t think through the ramifications of what I call the “hit by a bus” syndrome. By that I’m referring to a situation in which your team member disappears suddenly — is “hit by a bus” in some fashion — like has a long-term illness, is dealing with a family crisis, or any other situation in which the freelancer is unavailable over a long term. Would you be able to replace that person and/or keep your business running?
1. Know ALL of your logins, usernames and passwords. Your logins, usernames and passwords to all of your services are central to you being able to run a business successfully. If your assistant were hit by a bus tomorrow and you didn’t have this info, how would your business continue to run? It’s great that you have delegated your day-to-day operations or specific components of your business, but be sure that you are just delegating responsibility and that you aren’t totally dependent on your team and helpless without them. You need to know enough to move forward if something were to happen to someone on your team. Plus, you don’t want to be placed in the nasty situation of “having” to use a freelance team with which you’re not happy because they refuse to hand over the user information to your online services. Believe me, I have seen all kinds of unprofessional and unethical behavior in this area as some freelancers try and hold their clients hostage as a client retention strategy.
2. Make sure your intellectual property is registered in your name. If the services you use or intellectual property that you own (like domain names) aren’t registered in your name, you could be in a heap of trouble should you decide to change providers at some point. Make sure that the services that you use and the intellectual property that you own is controlled by you, not your team, and that you have the ability to change your mind about any aspect of your business when you want, without the decision being dependent upon a team member handing over information that is vital to the functioning of your business.
3. Create a central storage solution. Whether you’re using something simple like Google Documents or a Wiki, create some type of online collaboration space where all of your team members are listed and have access to the information that they need to work with you. There are a large number of inexpensive online collaboration services available these days. Determine what your needs are in such a space, sign your business up as a customer, and start using it.
4. Document your procedures. Would you (or another team member) be able to send out your ezine if your assistant weren’t able to? How about update your social networks, add an autoresponder, or update your web site? Have your team members take time to document what they do for in a step-by-step fashion with a procedures manual so that you or another team member can jump in and complete a task when needed without alot of handholding. Check out my Online Business Dashboard for more info about setting up your procedures manual.
5. Communicate regularly and deal immediately with problems. “You don’t know what you don’t know when you don’t it” is one of my favorite sayings. Your team needs to be able to see the big picture of what’s going on in your business so that they can better execute the details. If you have a team member who is consistently not delivering in a timely fashion, not understanding what’s being delegated, or is disappearing for chunks of time, you need to deal with that now, rather than later. Sometimes the problem is an isolated incident, while other times it’s an indication of a more serious issue. Get to the bottom of whatever it is by dealing with it immediately before it becomes a critical problem.
Take the proper precautions to ensure that you can make the kinds of changes you need to keep your business running smoothly. By following these 5 strategies, you have greatly lessened your chances of being held hostage by your freelance team.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.