Most startups have to do the maximum with minimum budget. You’ve worked hard to sell your idea to an investor. You’ve been given what seemed like the ideal funding, but you soon find that most of your expenses are much higher than you anticipated.
This is especially true when employing staff. While you thought you could make do with the team that you already have, your needs keep on growing, until eventually you’re forced to hire or burn everyone out.
The good news is that there’s an affordable alternative. Outsourcing is a great way to minimise the costs associated with actually employing someone full time. And there are lots of freelancers around the world who are dying to work for you.
There are a few things you need to remember when you outsource:
Define the position clearly
A lot of businesses make the mistake of finding and hiring freelancers using a vague job description. While they may be willing and able to do everything you need, you need to spell it out before you advertise the position.
- It is can be anxiety-provoking for freelancers when they have to do work they did not expect. They may be unsure of their capabilities, but will not want to lose the work.
- It is very frustrating for a freelancer when s/he has to redo a job that was not clearly defined. If you are paying by the hour, it will also cost you.
- Finally, if the position is clearly defined, you have better recourse to take when the job is not done properly.
The position and everything it entails should be set out clearly in the initial job posting, as well as the contract. In the contract you should also state what constitutes satisfactory work.
Good quality can come cheap
Because of vastly varying currency values, there are highly skilled freelancers around the world willing to work for what you consider a pittance. And working with an FX company for your money transfers, you will get more out of your currency, when compared with traditional banks.
Simply compare costs in America and India. An apartment in a city center, estimated in America to cost you $1090 a month in rent, is available in India at the equivalent of $156!
India is just one of a range of countries where you can find quality labor for cheap. South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, and Spain are just a few of the many places you should consider outsourcing to.
Take your time to find “the one”
Filling a position takes more than finding someone who checks all the boxes. You need to know a little more than what the freelancer is showing you.
Freelancing sites are useful. They keep track of all the work the freelancer does, and ask for client feedback. Go for someone who has a lot of experience and a high rating on the site. Going for a newbie will be cheap and you may just find a gem – everyone has to start somewhere – but you’re playing with fire.
Some good freelancing sites are:
- Upwork (formally oDesk and Elance)
- People Per Hour
- Agent Solo
Interview the top 3
On paper you’ve found the perfect person for the job. You’ve even checked their online ratings and client reviews. But any good interviewer will tell you there are things you can only pick up in a face to face meeting.
Set up interviews with your top 3 options, even if you have a favorite. If they’re working from a remote location, set up a video interview. The interaction will also help you set up a positive working relationship.
Hire a local copywriter
You’re going to need a copywriter – a wordsmith with the skill to take your company to the top. Unfortunately, good copywriting probably won’t come cheap. Never hire a non-local to do your copywriting. They may be brilliant in their own country. But even if their first language is English, don’t assume that their English sounds like yours.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find an expat living in a cheaper country.
Working remotely, a freelancer is far likelier to make mistakes, whether because of a miscommunication, bad work ethic, or s/he is simply going through a tough time. Without your hands-on involvement – frequently checking the freelancer’s work and providing feedback – you could find yourself just days before launch with work that just won’t cut it.
Allow for creativity
This rule applies to every employee, even those working for you on a full time basis. Most people perform better when they feel creatively fulfilled, even when doing the simplest of jobs.
Just as you would with any other employee. A lot of freelancers will be working from home, or alone in an office. While that may be ideal for some, it means they don’t get a lot of feedback and validation and it can be hard to stay motivated. Tell them when you’re happy with their work, and give them personal encouragement.
Aspire for a long working relationship
Working with someone on and off is far less efficient than working with the same person on a consistent basis. Consistency allows the freelancer to stay aware of what you’re doing, what’s changing, and gives them more intuition on exactly what you want.
Outsourcing is a great way to save a lot of money on skilled work. Make sure to take the above points into consideration, and you could find yourself with an ideal (and inexpensive) team.