You need the best talent for your startup, and it might just come in the form of a freelancer.
Investing in human capital can enable a new business to scale quickly and meet the demands of both customers and investors. However, hiring employees is expensive and can involve a steep learning curve. This is especially so when it comes to finding and training suitable candidates as well as understanding a plethora of employee legal obligations and tax considerations.
That’s why many startups prefer to rely on freelancers to drive their business forwards. Skilled freelance professionals can provide all the talent, experience, and expertise an employee can but at a much lower overall cost. It’s also a lot easier to part company with a poor performing freelancer than it is with a troublesome employee.
Freelancers come in all guises, from freelance web designers, copywriters, and marketers to freelance virtual assistants, bookkeepers, and technology professionals. Whatever skill you need, there will be freelancers who can provide those services.
Choosing the right freelancer for your startup
But how do you go about choosing the right freelancers or delegation partners for your startup company? What are some of the attributes you need to look for when searching for a quality freelancing partner?
Here are eight key points to look for.
- Professional brand
The best freelancers will have a professional website which showcases their work and experience. If they are serious about their careers and reputation, their website will be professionally designed and written with clarity.
This is an especially important consideration when hiring web design and writing pros. If they can’t create a professional setup for themselves, how will they do the same for you?
You’ll instinctively know when you come across a freelancer who has put time, effort, and money into developing their brand and career.
- Positive results
Are they walking the walk, as well as talking the talk?
As noted above, a professional setup is very important. But if they’re all talk with little to show in the form of positive results for previous clients, then they might not be a good fit.
When checking potential freelancing partners, look for portfolios or samples of previous work. Better still, seek out case studies. Project case studies should detail the stages of their past client projects and how the freelancer brought about positive results. You’ll be able to get an idea of how they work and what they can do for you too.
- Previous industry experience
Great samples of their work are imperative. Even more important is some experience in your particular industry. When you work with a freelancer who is at least somewhat familiar with your sector and target audience, there will be less of a learning curve and a faster project cycle.
Many freelancers are generalists, who work for a diverse range of businesses. This can be fine if you’re willing to bring them up to speed on your industry. However, if you want to achieve optimum results and fast, it’s usually best to seek out a specialist, either by skillset or industry focus, or both.
- Good reviews
Case studies can say a lot but first-hand accounts by previous customers are the most revealing. You can usually find a testimonial or review page on a freelancer’s website, with little quotes from previous happy clients. Make sure the reviewer’s full names are given as well as their company or position.
You can also check on review sites and via a Google search. Check any ratings they may have as well as positive and negative comments associated with their professionalism and work.
A single bad review might not mean much – there’s always someone unhappy with even the best service provider – but if there’s a trail of negativity, then it’s probably best to avoid.
- Personality match
Get the freelancer on the phone or meet face-to-face. The best way to judge a person’s character is by having a chat. A personality match is important when it comes to hiring a freelancer for your startup company. While you don’t need to be friends, there does need to be a compatibility when it comes to communication, professionalism, and outlooks.
A super talented freelancer who also happens to be an ill-mannered grouch, is unlikely to be a suitable match for your friendly and outgoing startup team. Tempers and patience will soon wear thin.
Choose a freelancer you genuinely like as a person or who at least seems polite and affable. One with a high level of emotional intelligence will be a joy to work with.
- Knowledge of appropriate software
What collaboration tools does the freelancer use? Do they understand how to use your favorite apps and platforms?
Look for information on their website as to the software and tools they use. Make it a point to discuss during the initial interview. Check they can quickly get up to speed with your team’s processes and technology, especially when it comes to sharing information, task management, time tracking data, invoicing, and general collaboration.
You might find it difficult to work with a technology-adverse freelancer, especially when data integration and synchronization are such vital elements of today’s workflows.
Another factor to consider is pricing. Freelancers can set their own fees, and they vary wildly, depending on experience, expertise, results, specialisms, industry focus, and self-belief. You’ll need to consider what type of budget you have available for different tasks and projects, and choose accordingly.
While it’s tempting to go for the cheapest freelancers, there’s a lot of merit in going with more middle-range fee freelancers. It’s vital for your startup to achieve great results, which means investing in the best freelancers you can find.
They don’t usually come cheap.
- Potential longevity of the partnership
It’s quite a process to find a good freelancer. You may talk with many but only a few will fit the qualities and standards you’re looking for. With this in mind, it’s always beneficial to stick with a freelancer over the long-term. This longevity not only reduces your need to search for more but also allows the freelancer to really get to know your company, products, and audience.
When talking to freelancers, consider whether they are a potential long-term freelancing partner. Ask them how long they have worked with some of their current clients and what’s the longest project they have worked on.
These will give you some good insights.
The right freelancing investment
Choosing the right freelancers for your startup can be frustrating. But if you keep the above tips in mind, you should find it a little easier to spot the right talent for your company’s needs.
There are many great freelancers out there with exceptional ability. They can really help you and your team to make your startup business thrive. As already mentioned, great talent is not cheap, and neither should it be, but the investment will usually be a lot more affordable than hiring a permanent employee.