If you’re a business owner, chances are you have too much on your plate. One of the biggest challenges of starting a company from scratch is having too much to do in too little time — not to mention a lack of specific skill sets and expertise. In fact, 45% of entrepreneurs report being really stressed out. Those factors used to make it extra hard to begin a business, but times are changing.
The past year and a half have taught us a lot, and the modern workplace has changed. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this new landscape to get more of their initiatives over the goal line. Savvy business leaders are well acquainted with freelancers and the ways that they can help them to accomplish quick-turn projects. Freelance platforms provide a one-stop-shop for finding the necessary talent to fill gaps in skill sets or experience — without going through the effort and expense of hiring full-time resources.
What is a freelance platform?
Freelance platforms are online marketplaces where skilled professionals from anywhere in the world can find work and get paid. They have grown tremendously over the past few years, which makes sense since it’s been predicted that freelancers will make up 80% of the workforce by 2030. Freelancing used to be considered “gig work” or side jobs but now offers major employment opportunities.
In a highly connected and globalized world, typical 9-to-5 jobs are less desirable to people that want to feel consistently engaged and challenged. Instead, many individuals would rather operate as independent contractors and offer their particular skill set on a project or temporary basis. Companies of all sizes have found advantages through working with freelancers and consultants of all types. In the old days, larger businesses would hire pricey consulting firms to help them achieve strategic initiatives. Now, even brand new organizations can use freelance or consulting platforms to achieve cost savings, faster project timelines, and standardized processes.
Simply put, there’s a lot to accomplish when you start a business—and freelance platforms can help you get those things done faster.
How to effectively leverage a freelance platform
Hiring freelancers on a platform offers convenience and profitability. That being said, freelance platforms are certainly not all created equal — nor are the professionals that you’ll find on them. Make sure to follow these steps if you’re using a freelance platform to supplement your team.
1. Research your options
There are many freelance platforms out there — in fact, over 170. However, most freelance platforms specialize in a certain geographic area, specialty, or price range. Your best bet is to narrow down your search based on the most reputable companies.
2. Understand your real needs
Before you begin a search on a freelance platform, you should have a comprehensive list of tasks prepared. Even more important, you should be able to tie those tasks to the larger goal of generating revenue (or other key drivers like reducing costs). Many people waste time and money on hiring consultants because of scope creep and moving the goalposts on projects after they’ve begun.
For example, you may understand that you need to advertise your new business, so you begin looking for paid advertising specialists. But is that really where you should begin? Or do you need someone to put together a more robust and well-researched promotional strategy, that happens to include online advertising? As you know, there’s a big difference between strategy development and tactical execution.
This is where freelancers differ from consultants. Do you need a freelancer for project-related jobs, or a consultant to help you drive business outcomes? If you need the latter, you should be looking at a consulting marketplace instead of a freelance platform.
Freelance jobs most commonly hired by entrepreneurs
There are certain areas that are actually ideal for hiring project-based workers rather than full-time employees. Some of them include:
- Virtual assistance
- Graphic design
- Writing and editing
- Social media management
- eCommerce specialties
- App development
- Search Engine Optimization
- Web Design
There’s a benefit to knowing what common areas of business freelancers occupy. For one, it tells you what other businesses are currently outsourcing. It also means that your pool of potential options is much larger and more competitive. While there’s likely someone out there to serve any type of business need it’s wisest to identify common areas that are easiest to outsource.
Remember, as your business grows and expands you can always look for opportunities to bring this type of work in-house. You may even develop such a good relationship with those you’re outsourcing with that you can even extend an offer for permanent placement down the line.
3. Seek experience — even at a premium
You’ve probably heard the phrase “You get what you pay for”, and this is especially true when it comes to human capital. In today’s war for talent, workers can be selective about who they work for and what they work on. It’s essential to be willing to go the extra mile for specific expertise. In many cases, the advice and counsel that entrepreneurs rely on is critical to their future success.
This type of c-level expertise is not likely to be found at an hourly rate. Instead, for best-in-class professionals or executive expertise, entrepreneurs need to be nimble and willing to invest in longer-term contracts, flexible arrangements, and significant rewards for performance.
Even if you’re looking for non-strategic tasks like copywriting, database management, or design, seek the top-rated professionals on the platform and exclude the lowest-priced people from your shortlist. They tend to have less experience and are keeping prices low to gain new clients. That’s ok — everyone has to start somewhere — but new businesses have less leeway in that regard.
Pay the rate that will ensure that your work gets done correctly the first time.
4. Be transparent and supportive
Once you hire a freelancer, you need to do your part. Give them access to whatever they require from you. Be speedy and reliable in your communications. They can be a lot more successful if you don’t become a bottleneck for them.
Outsource work without sacrificing quality
Beginning a new business is complex, and your work is never done. Leveraging a freelance platform can allow entrepreneurs to outsource some of the task-based items on their list, without worrying that their standards won’t be met.
However, if the scope of expertise you’re looking for goes beyond simply executing, then you may need to turn to a consultant marketplace. Either way, outsourcing is a convenient and profitable way to have others help you with the day-to-day aspects of running a business, while you focus on what you do best—growing your company.