The freelance or gig economy has made starting a business easier than ever. If your company has a creative focus, for example, you no longer need to hire 10 different full-time employees. You could hire a local freelance videographer and have the content edited by a creative talent in Ukraine or Singapore. You can then pay people by the project and never have to worry about overhead salaries at the end of the month.
We’ve all heard the alarming statistics of how a large percentage of start-ups fail. A June study by US market intelligence platform CB Insights, for example, found 70 per cent of start-up tech companies fail, around 20 months after raising funding.
Businesses fail for different reasons but finding the right team can present a major challenge for entrepreneurs. Hiring someone and then investing in their training, only to lose them a few months down the line because they received a better offer, could set many start-ups back. This is why using freelancers is necessary in the early days of a new business as it reduces that risk.
Ever since starting my business, working with and supporting freelancers has been a top priority. Not only does it make economic sense, because I’m saving on expenses, but it also keeps our work fresh. This has been one of my favourite learning processes. By working with freelancers based in different countries, I can find out about the latest initiatives in the marketing industry, how to apply certain videography techniques to my output and know what others in my field are working on.
But how does a business owner know who’s good and who’s not? And how do you turn hiring freelancers into a seamless process, where the freelancer understands your requirements and you receive the results you are looking for?
Go local before global
For some jobs and specific skills, it may be more efficient to hire someone from abroad. But if you are new to this whole gig economy and not comfortable trusting someone who does not live in the same country as you, then it may be worthwhile to start by using local freelancers. That way you can meet them face to face and take it from there. Remember, even when hiring someone residing in a different country, chat with them over the phone or on a video call. It will provide you with a sense of who they are and their level of professionalism before you proceed.
Are you looking for a beginner or an expert? Do you need specialists from certain fields or those proficient in a certain skill or software? When posting a job, be as detailed as possible. List all the requirements of the job: deadlines, experience and relevant knowledge. Ask for samples of their work, and any testimonials if possible. That way, you will attract the right freelancers to ease the vetting process.
If you want quality results, be willing to pay for it. Experience does not come cheap, but it will save you the time and trouble of looking for someone else. Experienced freelancers know what they are doing and what clients expect from them. Even though they may cost more than beginners, I find this option more cost-efficient than hiring full-time employees, especially if it’s for a one-off project.
Don’t manage it all yourself
If you are handling several projects at the same time and need to work with more than two freelancers, then have someone in-house dedicated to managing the pool of hired help. From experience, it can become hectic managing so many different inputs in addition to your regular work especially if they live in different time zones. So get someone else to take on that load for you.
According to a June 2018 report by Morgan Stanley, freelancers represent 35 per cent of the total US workforce, and could represent more than 50 per cent by 2027. This is the age of the freelancer, so even if you don’t plan to hire outside your organisation anytime soon, it’s important to appreciate this huge shift in the working world.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi