Onboarding - and a pirate metaphor!

One of the metaphors used in Cobblers when talking about freelancing/entrepreneurship, is the pirate life.  All the freedom of the open sea, good songs, lots of rum, your mates about deck.  But also no security, you’re at the mercy of the wind, and always scrambling for the next gig.  It’s feast or famine – or to continue the metaphor, lots of booty or absolutely booty at all.  Welcome to Ship Entrepreneur!

When onboarding clients or employees is discussed in Forbes or some business book we picture 1950’s flight attendants gently leading folks in nice suits onto the well-appointed plane, handing them a very organized book with everything the client or employee needs to know in it.  They politely sit down and crack that book open and read it. 

When it happens on the Ship Entrepreneur we imagine more swords, yelling, chaos, energy. 

So often we’re wrapped up in getting the gig, we don’t think through the details.  We don’t think about how to tell the customer what is expected of them.  We’re so tangled in our own nets of work, we don’t take the time to bring on an employee with a training schedule.  We just toss them a sword, shove them on to the deck, and tell them to defend the bow! 

So how do we fix this?  Well, we can always steal ideas from the corporate world. 

For customers: 
1. Have a contract with a time line.  Go over it with them so they understand exactly what you can/will do, how much input you need from them, and how delays in that input will affect the time line. 

2.  New client questionnaires!  One of our Cobbler’s has a questionnaire that helps outline the specific scope of work for each new client.  Since she is a bookkeeper these questions mainly deal with things like how many bank accounts and credit cards you have, but think back on your past few clients and about what you wish you had known upfront.  Use that to create a standard set of questions.  Pro tip: Ask how they heard about you so you can figure out what is working in your marketing!

For employees:
1.  You need a job description and training schedule.  We know!  So much work, but it’s worth it to have a well-trained employee who can actually help out.

2.  Employees need mentors.  Have them shadow someone so they know how to really do the job, even if that someone is you.  Have regularly scheduled check-ins to give and receive feedback or questions. 

This is an ongoing problem, but with a bit of attention we can fix Ship Entrepreneur and hit the high-seas again!