There are so many “should I” or “shouldn’t I” decisions that one has to make in life. The same could be said when starting a new career coaching practice. One of those big decisions is what you should do on your own and what you should consider paying for so you can focus your limited time and energy on what you are the expert in — coaching your clients.
This blog is a follow up to our “How to Hire a Freelancer” blog where we talked about the strategic benefits of spending a small amount of your tight budget on outsourcing specific tasks in building your practice so you can move forward more quickly. Be sure to also check out the FREE downloadable planning tool, DIY (Do It Yourself) vs. DFY (Done For You) to help you assess your own private practice business building projects at the end of this blog!
Freelancing vs Agency
In this blog, like any good piece of literature or movie, shall we say “the plot thickens”, for there are a couple of frontrunners when it comes to getting to the best bang for your freelancing buck. This occurs because there are a few different paths you can take when it comes to outsourcing certain aspects of your career consulting practice. So, which should you hire…a freelancer or an agency? What’s the difference?
This is a big decision, and you may eventually decide to use services of both an agency and a freelancer at different times. This blog explores the differences between the two and will help you to weigh the pros and cons of each so you can confidently make the best decision for your practice.
Defining the difference between a “freelancer” and an “agency”
First, let’s take a moment to review and learn about what the term “freelancer” and an “agency” entail. A freelancer is an individual who takes on tasks, projects, and even things like helping you to set your business objectives. There are freelancers for virtually all of your business needs. In fact, depending on your budget, you may choose to hire more than one freelancer as they tend to specialize in specific areas. When you bring a freelancer on board, you can make that individual a part of your overall team.
An “agency”, in contrast, is an enclave of highly skilled persons who have specialties and frequently work as an “outside team” on your behalf to reach your business objectives. An agency is a good place to get help with short-term and long-term goals and to help you set your strategic plan for your career coaching practice. They also work well on clearly defined to-do lists and their multi-pronged approach means the client won’t be left without options should an emergency arise with their primary contact person.
Words of wisdom from experienced freelancers
There are valuable insights from two successful freelancer interviews in this blog. One currently is working as a freelancer and the other is someone who started out as a freelancer, and then went on to create her own agency. These two professionals will share their tips from both the freelancer and freelance employer perspectives.
What to consider to determine your specific needs
Things like the scope and complexity of your projects and your tasks, your budget, what parts of projects you want to do yourself and what parts you want the freelancer to do. Also, whether, or not, you will be the primary contact for the freelancer or agency, or if it will be someone else in your business. You will want to think through in detail what you envision your processes to be and what your expectations are for the final product so you can be clear with the freelancer or agency.
Weighing the benefits of the options and costs
According to Tanya Amaya of Analytic Design, who started as a freelancer and now hires them in her own agency, “One of the most important aspects to consider when you’re just beginning your practice is cost.” Oftentimes, people who start career coaching practices begin with freelancers because they are much less expensive, more flexible, and given the right circumstances you can make them a member of your fledgling team.
Alternatively, Tanya states that the benefit of starting with an agency vs. an individual freelancer is that the agency can help you with strategic planning and set you on your way to achieving specific immediate and long-range goals. This can give a novice business person a real edge when it comes to setting priorities and objectives. The downside is that it comes with a hefty price tag. Tanya estimates it can run anywhere from seven thousand to fifteen thousand dollars. Still, she goes on to say,” The outlay in cost may be well worth it for a new practice owner and it is not unreasonable to even consider getting a loan to pay for it.”
However, for most private practice career professionals, who often start their business as a side gig that grows into something self-sustaining and profitable, this kind of cost outlay is simply not realistic. It is also possible to find freelancers, who will help you set strategic planning in motion, for a much lower, more doable, price point. Additionally, you can utilize the resources and help offered by the Small Business Administration or SCORE, which is a group of retired executives who offer superior service for very little cash outlay. Check out these websites to see if there is a local chapter for each of these organizations in your local area.
Need help assessing which of your projects could use some outsourcing and how to find the best freelancers and agencies for the job? Check out our FREE downloadable planning tool, DIY (Do It Yourself) vs. DFY (Done For You) at the end of this blog.
Flexibility vs Reliability
Other things to consider when thinking of an agency vs a freelancer is flexibility. A freelancer will often be very responsive to your needs, even when they fall outside of normal business hours. The “price you pay” for going with an individual freelancer is if they get sick, have a personal crisis or any number of life altering events, your project may be put on hold for long periods of time.
In contrast, an agency has multiple contacts who are specialists in their field and when one team member goes missing, another can usually act in their stead. Therefore, the risk of your project, or tasks, running afoul remains low. An agency, however, cannot typically be a part of your practice’s team. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as a Virtual Assistant Agency (VA).
Benefits of a Virtual Assistant (VA) Agency
A virtual assistant agency contracts with VA freelancers and matches them up with a company’s needed work. At Be the Change Career Consulting, we hired a VA through an agency to handle and implement a social media presence for our organization. Her name is Doris Brandford and even though she was hired through an agency, she maintains her own freelancing business called Skycee Virtual Solutions. Doris has become part of our organization’s team, often joining us for our weekly meetings to better understand the needs and direction of our business. Doris explains, “Joining your company was a seamless process. You all had clear goals and tasks that you wanted completed and also allowed me the freedom to give my input and work within the purview of your organization while still maintaining my autonomy.” Doris went on to say that providing a virtual assistant with well-defined, organized tasks or projects and providing a main point of contact in an organization is a must.
As you can see, there are reasonable cost saving ways to obtain the help you need to build your new coaching practice faster and will free up time for you to do the client work that got you into doing private practice in the first place. You are now one step closer to knowing who to turn to help meet your practices’ needs. So, go forth and outsource!
Download our FREE planning tool, DIY (Do It Yourself) vs. DFY (Done For You): The ultimate guide for deciding when to hire freelancers or an agency for your career coaching practice will help you assess and priortize where you need the most help in building your private practice and how to identify the right freelancer or agency to do the job.