I logged into my Odesk account this morning to reply to a message and was greeted with a list of not two, not three, but 7 contractors I’m currently outsourcing various aspects of different projects to. These are all tasks I couldn’t perform if I wanted to – graphic design, server-side script installation, programming, etc.
But, it was still kind of incredible. I somehow had managed to successfully hire and manage the contracts of 7 people from various corners of the globe – most of them on behalf of clients – and didn’t realize how many there were.
On one hand, it was a little scary. No one wants to be the schmuck who forgets about a contractor, lets a budget wander out of control or just plain doesn’t get a project done in time. Odesk makes it unlikely any of those things will happen, but still – forgetting you have that many open contracts is a bad sign.
On the other hand, it speaks to just how incredible this crazy thing we call technology really is. Every now and then I ponder what I would be doing if I had been born 20 years earlier – how I could possibly make a living without the Internet at my fingertips every second of the day. I was at the beach the other day and responded to an email, had a quick Skype chat, proofread a file and forwarded an attachment to one of the aforementioned contractors all in about 15 minutes…on my phone.
It’s crazy the stuff we can do and in my case, it’s the only reason I’m staying afloat with a new baby, new business model and full docket of projects. Thank goodness for self-educated 20-somethings looking for odd jobs on the Internet.
Which brings me to my point (starting to wonder if I had one, weren’t you). Contracting is a powerful tool – one that will allow you to offer services you may need a little help with or to expand beyond the scope of what you can get done in a day (or a lifetime). And with technology, it’s ridiculously easy to get caught up in it and forget that it still takes a good amount of energy and effort to keep track of all those personalities and make sure their work is up to your standards.
I say this because if you’re anything like me and cannot remember who you hired in the last seven days, it may be a good time to sit down and map out a plan – one that allows you to quickly and easily outsource a project, manage it and remember to check in with that person from time to time. It could be an Outlook Calendar, an Evernote task list or just a sticky note, duct tape and fishing line system set up in your basement. Whatever it is, don’t let technology make you sloppy – it can backfire big time down the line.