By Jared Miller, 10K COO
Since our founding nearly five years ago, the 10K Community has grown to over 400 seasoned, independent Salesforce experts. Many of the Salesforce independent contractors and small-sized consulting companies in our community are not only looking to partner with us to deliver projects but are also looking to build a business, grow their client base, and potentially hire full-time employees.
Our soon-to-be-released 2020 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report shows that more than 50% of Salesforce consultants are looking to further grow their business in the coming years. Some (22%) through the use of contractors, and some (32%) by hiring full-time employees. Thirty-six percent of respondents in that survey say they are actively using subcontractors to scale their business today.
As COO and the leader responsible for the 10K Expert Community, these numbers have me feeling optimistic. I’ve recently noticed an increasing number of experts asking how they can use our community as subcontractors to further expand their business and take on more clients. This is something that we love to hear.
While taking the time to vet your subcontractors is a must, there are a few other things that are important to consider when looking to expand your delivery capabilities with subcontractors.
Here are three basic steps you can take to start scaling your time and growing your Salesforce business.
Include explicit permission to use subcontractors in your client contracts
At 10K, we ensure our client contracts have subcontractor flexibility built-in. So if we realize one of our client’s projects could use the additional capacity to increase the speed of deliverables or cover a skills gap, this guarantees 10K the option to engage additional subcontractors. However, many of the independent consultants we work with don’t explicitly get permission to use subcontractors in their own contracts, nor do they have language around rates or other roles that they can offer.
We recommend baking this option into your client contracts because once a project has kicked off, telling your client you need to bring on more help can be an uncomfortable conversation. Not only that, but sometimes additional support is needed because the project is behind schedule, too complex, or too close to budget. Unforeseeable circumstances are normal, so there’s no shame in providing yourself the flexibility to bring in additional help as needed.
Establish margins that work
Now that you have the flexibility to add people to your projects, how do you ensure you’re charging the right rates so everyone wins? We have seen this done in two different ways.
Our recommended strategy is to determine rates by role and region. This will allow you to provide clear budget estimates and easily add people as needed without limiting your options. You could even win additional projects as this demonstrates to your client that you have ready access to sought-after skillsets and teams. Another advantage is being able to build more accurate project plans, staffing models, and profit projections.
Using a blended rate is another popular approach where you define a rate regardless of role and region. We typically see this used with our higher-skilled and more experienced consultants.
While blended rates can make contracts, billing, and operations easier, there are some disadvantages:
You might have to lower what you charge on an hourly basis. But it could also improve the margin of any additional contract you bring in.
Your subcontractor options might be limited. For example, a CPQ project where you priced yourself out of bringing in the people you need.
Clients might feel taken advantage of. They are paying one rate and will assume you are doing most of the work, but proactive communication in most cases can remedy this issue.
Prioritize and delegate to gain more time
Learning how to scale your time becomes an inevitable aspect of growing your business. This can feel like an impossible task when you’re spending hours writing validation rules, creating fields and objects, searching for your next client, chasing payments, and so on.
The first step in evaluating how you spend your time is to analyze the costs and benefits of your work tasks. Strategic prioritization will help you decide which tasks to delegate to subcontractors so you can focus on the real needle movers, such as onboarding and finding new clients or designing the solutions for your projects.
It’s easy to get swept away in the weeds of a project, but this cost-benefit analysis is worth it. Should you really be creating all those fields and objects yourself? Could you use a fresh perspective to determine the right solution? Maybe all your client needs is a Lightning Web Component on a page to capture data quickly, as opposed to navigating to a child record and editing it.
Gain back precious time and consider using subcontractors to accomplish these key tasks:
Object and field creation
Declarative automation and validation rules
Triggers and User Interfaces
If you’re eager to start growing your Salesforce business but don’t know where to get started, joining the 10K Expert Community is a solid way to start. We can help coach you through some of these issues and vet subcontractors that would be a fit for you – one of the most time-consuming aspects of growing your business in this way.