Why Freelancers are the Key to Achieving Talent Scalability On Demand

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    You’ve just received a new round of funding. An incredibly exciting milestone for your growing company! Congratulations!

    Now what? 

    Your investors are expecting quick results and you need to build out your team.

    Scalable talent on demand can be difficult to achieve in the best of circumstances. In today’s tight labor market, finding the right talent quickly is even harder. 

    Have you considered freelancers?

    Including freelancers or independent consultants as part of your overall workforce plan can be a great option for securing talent and only paying for what you need. In addition, companies realize benefits from the varied experiences and diversity of thought freelancers bring to their work. This is especially true in small companies or startups. You can’t afford to hire all of the skill sets and experiences you may need on your staff. In addition, in the early stages, many of you are working with folks you’ve worked with before or went to school with. While this can be a great asset when it comes to trust, dependability and strategic alignment, it is not the best approach for ensuring diverse perspectives and backgrounds. 

    We’ve seen the use of freelancers in tech and management consulting for some time. However, lately we’re seeing freelancers in other highly skilled fields such as Finance, HR, and Marketing. In the startup community, a very common model is to have fractional CFO and CHRO support. You can leverage freelancers to meet a wide array of needs from business development and marketing, general project management, IT, finance and HR.

    One benefit that leveraging freelancers brings is flexibility. If you are unsure you will need the talent when you are in a steady state, bringing on freelancers is better for both parties. This can also give you an opportunity to try out a new role on your team. Finally, many freelancers are open to contract-to-hire, giving you the opportunity to try out talent before making the commitment of full-time employment.

    Where to find freelancers.

    If you’ve haven’t worked with freelancers before, you may be wondering how to get started. Where do you look for high quality freelancers with the right skill sets?

    Freelancer talent networks or digital marketplaces make this process easier to the benefit of freelancers and companies alike. The marketplace concept enables companies to find the skills they need on demand and freelancers get access to a wider variety of work opportunities. Some marketplaces are large and generalized and offer freelancers across a variety of domains. Others are specialized to particular verticals (e.g. IT or HR) and may offer white glove services.

    Related: How to Hire the Best Freelancers When Building a Remote Team

    Domestic versus international.

    Another consideration is whether you want to work with domestic or international freelancers. International freelancers tend to charge less per hour. However, there are downsides. One downside is related to time zones. The wider the variance in time zones the more difficult it can be to have a freelancer collaborate on team projects. Another downside is that you need to be careful about proprietary information when working with global freelancers. If you get into a dispute over patents, trademarks or proprietary information, you will frequently need to work with local laws and courts.

    Related: How to Fairly Hire Freelancers From Developing Countries

    Domestic freelancers offer greater enforceability when it comes to NDAs and breach of contract. Time zones are also not as much of an issue. In addition, many freelancers are willing to come onsite or work hybrid. You should consider these trade offs for each role you are trying to fill before making a decision on domestic or international.

    How to set yourself (and your freelancer) up for success.

    Once you find your first freelancers, to ensure a successful outcome, you need to think about establishing an effective contract, onboarding, and providing ongoing oversight of your freelancer. There are online templates available for creating a contract, but you want to be sure you’re very clear about deliverables, timeline, rates, and payment methods. You also need to be sure to effectively onboard your freelancer and provide the individual with contacts on the team who they can go to for help or information.

    Meet with your freelancer regularly for formal and informal updates. As I’ve spoken with both freelancers and clients, they say that transparent communication is the most critical contributor to success. In addition to providing the freelancer with feedback, ask them for feedback and suggestions. One of the benefits of your freelancing talent is the diversity of thought they bring from working at other organizations and in other industries. Encourage them to share their ideas even if the ideas are outside of the status quo.

    You also want to plan for offboarding. Who will absorb the work when the freelancer rolls off? Does knowledge transfer need to happen? How should the freelancer document the work performed?

    Investing a little extra time up front will help to ensure a successful engagement. The benefits of cost effective scalability and diversity of thought are well worth it!

    Related: What I’ve Learned After Paying More Than $1 Million to Freelancers



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