Every early-stage startup faces many challenges, including limited resources and a need for cost-effective and efficient solutions.
That is why outsourcing to freelancers can be a valuable strategy for many startups trying to achieve their goals while minimizing costs. When a startup company begins the hiring process, the related costs can be daunting, especially with the knowledge that ten percent of all new startups fail in the first year.
Many startup founders reject traditional hiring methods in the early stages in favor of hiring freelancers. And while some startups eventually choose to go down the route of employing full-time staff members, many others keep their outsourced workers for long-term engagements as well. This is partly due to the need for qualified candidates with the technical skills that a startup requires for rapid growth.
When your business model demands cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and access to a diverse talent pool, it is hard to go past freelance workers who have experience working with companies in the earliest stages.
But what should high-growth-oriented startups consider when looking for the ideal freelancer? How do you hire people that prioritize communication, trust, and respect cultural differences?
In this article, we will look into why getting freelancers to work for your startup company for more than just a few months or as a stop-gap ensures ongoing success. In addition, we will provide strategies for finding the right freelancers, establishing clear expectations and goals, and building long-term relationships with early employees.
Essential requirements for startup founders
Early-stage startups often operate with limited resources, making cost-effectiveness and efficiency crucial for their success. Unlike a large corporation, a lean startup must account for every dollar as the company grows. One of the most significant expenses for a small startup is hiring full-time employees.
Recruiting, training, and paying employees can be a significant financial burden that not everyone can bear. While venture capitalists back some new companies and have a leadership team with valuable business connections, this phenomenon is a rarity.
That is why many startup founders are leveraging outsourced freelancers to reduce their costs and improve job performance while still achieving their goals.
Not only do most startups need to pay salaries, but they also need to provide benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. Additionally, they are obliged to invest time, resources, and the right tools to recruit and train new employees.
In contrast, freelancers typically charge hourly or project-based rates, which can be more affordable for startups than a full-time salary. Additionally, freelancers working at a startup do not require benefits—a massive cost-saver in the early days of a new company.
Another benefit of outsourcing to freelancers is that you only use them when necessary.
Startups often have fluctuating workloads and feast-and-famine cycles of work, requiring them to scale their operations up or down quickly. Hiring full-time employees can be challenging to justify when this is the case.
Assuming you communicate your needs in the interview process, a freelancer’s job description can clearly state that sometimes you will need them to work long hours, and sometimes, none at all. Whether they work on short-term projects or as needed is entirely up to you. This flexibility allows startups to allocate their resources to meet their changing needs.
Access to a diverse pool of talent
Startups have been known to need more brand recognition than large corporations to attract top talent. Additionally, an early-stage company may need more expertise or resources to recruit highly valued talent from a wide range of locations or industries.
Freelancers can provide startup access to a broader range of talent with job titles and technical skills they desperately need. Specialized local talent is tricky to find, especially if you are based in a region not known for producing Harvard Business School graduates in marketing or MIT graduates in software development.
Managed freelance marketplaces like Quickly Hire can help a startup find quality freelancers that have been vetted for reliability and quality. These marketplaces allow small startups to access a pool of pre-vetted freelancers without spending time and resources recruiting and hiring.
Challenges of outsourcing to freelancers
While outsourcing to freelancers offers many benefits, there are challenges that high-growth startups need to be aware of.
Freelancers may work remotely and in different time zones, so ensuring you have robust procedures for managing their workflow is essential. Setting your ground rules early regarding the project requirements and deliverables will ensure your business runs smoothly.
Your chosen contractor will probably have other clients as well. They will often switch from one task to the next job regularly, making it difficult to schedule regular check-ins or meetings. Communicating deadlines and important meetings ahead of time is advisable.
Establish a communication plan
Set expectations with freelancers about how often and through which channels communication will take place. This could include regular check-ins via email, video calls, or work-based platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Use project management tools
Utilize project management tools such as ClickUp, Asana, Trello, or Monday to keep track of project progress, deadlines, and milestones. These tools can also facilitate communication between startups and freelancers.
Provide clear and concise instructions
Provide freelancers with clear and concise instructions on project requirements, including deadlines, deliverables, and expectations.
Whether they work for a startup or an established larger organization doesn’t matter. Freelancers can’t stand unresponsiveness. Messaging them at weird hours of the night isn’t ideal, either. If you want something, make sure you are available for questions to avoid delays and misunderstandings.
Another challenge of outsourcing to freelancers is trust. Small companies may be hesitant to entrust critical projects or confidential information to freelancers, especially if they are working remotely. However, trust is essential for building a successful working relationship, and the future of work requires a level of trust many founders struggle with.
Conduct a thorough vetting process
Before hiring a freelancer, ensure you have a clear job description so only qualified applicants are encouraged to apply. Thoroughly review the portfolios you like, and read past testimonials to ensure their efficacy.
Start with a small project
Giving them the keys to your own company from the outset isn’t the wisest move straight out of the gate. Instead, go one stage at a time—beginning with a small project and slowly progressing to more significant tasks. This method will help you to gauge their performance and reliability.
Establish clear expectations
Clearly communicate the project requirements, deadlines, and expectations to the freelancer. By following this simple rule, your freelance employees will have no reason to underperform. The success of your company depends on fast, accurate work, remember?
Sign a contract
Even though freelancers are not full-time employees with job security on the line, a contract can still act as an agreement of terms. There is no harm in outlining the project’s scope, payment, and confidentiality terms from day one.
Again, freelancers are people too! Even if they aren’t going to be around forever, feedback is still a crucial part of formulating clear career paths and finding out ways of doing things better. For the reputation of your own business and the future of your freelance employee, try hard to build a positive working relationship.
Outsourcing to international freelancers can present cultural differences that may pose a challenge to startups. Different cultures may have different work styles, communication styles, or expectations, leading to misunderstandings and delays.
With that said, your startup company is far better off by having the opportunity to hire someone outside your usual wheelhouse, so ask a lot of questions and get to know your new team player as much as possible.
Research cultural norms
It doesn’t hurt to do your research and find out the cultural norms of your early employee. Spend some time getting to know where they come from and what makes them tick. Undoubtedly, they will appreciate your efforts and work hard to make your startup company successful.
Be mindful of time zones
Even the most well-traveled company founder will be tripped up by the time-zone snag. Store away the hour difference between your location and theirs, so scheduling meetings and setting deadlines is a walk in the park.
How to outsource to freelancers for long-term growth
Outsourcing to freelancers can be a valuable strategy for most startups to achieve their goals while keeping costs low. To make outsourcing to freelancers a long-term solution for growth, startups need to consider several factors.
Finding the right freelancers
Finding the right freelancers is crucial for building a successful long-term outsourcing relationship. Startups can find freelancers through managed freelance marketplaces like Quickly Hire, where freelancers are vetted for reliability and quality. Startups can also use social media platforms or job boards to find freelancers.
Establishing clear expectations and goals
Establishing clear expectations and goals is essential for building a successful outsourcing relationship. Startups should communicate project requirements, deadlines, and deliverables clearly to freelancers. Additionally, startups should establish a process for reviewing and providing feedback on the freelancer’s work.
Building a long-term relationship with freelancers
For any new startup, sustainable growth should be at the forefront of any goal-setting exercise. Despite what other founders of bigger companies may think, you can build a long-lasting relationship with freelancers based on trust and mutual benefit that goes well beyond a project or a few short months.
A two-way relationship
Many freelancers work exclusively for startups as they recognize that their talents are underappreciated in more established companies. The startup environment allows freelancers to be more creative, work alongside talented people, and gain valuable experience that furthers their careers.
With that said, it is essential that if you want use freelancers for more than a short period, you need to follow a few basic guidelines.
Pay A fair rate
When you pay the market rate (or even higher), you recognize the value of a freelancer’s work and can help build a positive working relationship that lasts the test of time.
Providing regular work
A common misconception surrounding freelancers is that they lack loyalty and commitment to a company. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At the end of the day, they desire autonomy regarding who they work for and when. If your company culture is something that vibes with them, they will likely want to hang around a bit longer. By providing them with ongoing work, you not only fulfill their professional goals but also improve your operation’s profitability.
Providing opportunities for growth
Freelancing is becoming a popular choice among professionals that shows no slowing down. Therefore, investing some time and energy in training and development is wise. The freelancer will gain new skills, and your business will have an employee that understands the correct way to do things every time.
Communicating openly and honestly
From a freelancer’s point of view, there is nothing worse than working for a startup that doesn’t communicate openly and honestly from the get-go. To be profitable, startups require the same open-door policy. Therefore, take the time to promote dialogue that allows both parties to thrive.
Use Quickly Hire to find the perfect freelancer
Quickly Hire knows how challenging it can be to get a startup off the ground while keeping costs to a minimum. We understand that long-term growth is achievable with personnel equipped with the right technical skills. We also know that a drawn-out vetting process is something many founders simply do not have the time or energy to perform. That is why we do all the administrative work, so you can be sure your new freelancer will be ready from day one.
Our freelancers, sourced from every corner of the globe, offer cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and communication skills to help you succeed at a price you can manage.
Instead of tying yourself in knots with a tiresome hiring process, get access to outsourced professionals today and focus on growing your customer base.