Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 1st November 2010 | Bangalore
Most startups start out with just two or three employees, invariably the founders themselves. Entrepreneurs would love to see more hands at work. But they refrain from hiring people full time until there is external funding and sufficient traction for their business idea. This is where freelancers come in. The challenge, however, is in finding the best (and most suitable) external resources and keeping them engaged. YourStory answers the basic questions about freelancers here.
Where do we find freelancers?
Ask around. Everyone’s connected these days and you never know who might lead you on to someone suitable. You can always look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook or any other networking site. In addition, visiting events for startups and entrepreneurs helps immensely. People who are in that sphere come together and usually, these events turn out to be exceedingly beneficial if you’re looking out for resources.
How do we know if he/she is the right one for us?
Let’s say you’re looking for someone to design the logo for your startup. Putting up a ‘design contest’ on a website like 99designs.com will help you get dozens of options from designers across the world and you will only have to pay for the design that you eventually choose. But the prerequisite to this is that you clearly define your requirements. Usually, you will be able to see whether the person is right for you simply based on their reaction to your brief.
How much do we pay?
You know what the saying is – if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys. Having said that, we understand that entrepreneurs are always trying to run a tight ship and unlike big corporations, they do not have the bandwidth for trial-and-error. Hence, it’s best to be candid and explain your scenario lucidly to the freelancer in question. The deal needs to be a win-win situation for both the customer and the supplier. Please note that cutting costs too much might result in the job being badly done. Appraise the market, understand costs and then negotiate.
How do we fix the rules?
Figuring out the rules of engagement is extremely important. However, it is not unhealthy to be fluid at the outset and set up the agreement gradually, as the most favourable arrangement begins to emerge. All projects need job specification/scope spelt out clearly, along with the project timelines and payment schedules. In some cases, it might be necessary to figure out copyright issues as well. And remember, it’s best to chart these out through discussion. This way, the interests of all parties involved gets taken into account.
How do we keep them engaged?
In the internet age, it isn’t absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs to be in face-to-face contact with their freelancers. However, it is always healthy to meet the people who you work with, from time to time. But once the homework’s done and the work is assigned, do not interfere. Keep yourself abreast of project developments and progress and do not step in unless absolutely essential. Also, it’s crucial to give positive feedback to freelancers, as it helps to keep them motivated.
A good freelancer really gets under the skin of the problem and delivers solutions that are just right, provided that he/she is genuinely interested in the project. So, the key is to explain succinctly what is required and how the freelancer can add value. Do this right and enjoy the smooth sailing, while remaining a nimble-footed startup. G’luck!