Contemplating Outsourcing? Start Here.
The good, the bad and the ugly
As an entrepreneur you will have various tasks – large and small that need to be completed by individuals other than yourself. Many times, due to your start up budget those individuals will be freelancers (independent contractors) that will help you get off the ground and running.
I having completed hundreds of projects on behalf of myself and others have acquire a knack for finding quality, affordable help to get jobs done. From out of state coordination of special events to logo sourcing, I have done it all. I must say, most have gone off without a hitch but when it goes bad – usually it’s really bad. Due to advances in technology the market is saturated with freelancers.
These suggestions are to be used with more medium to high end Freelancers. You cannot reasonably expect the same client/provider interaction time with Freelancers that are charging minimum rates – that just isn’t fair. With that being said here are 5 key things to do and consider when outsourcing work:
Get it in writing
- None disclosure/Confidentially agreements are key and any good professional independent contractor has one within their files already and they don’t mind signing it. If you don’t have one, I suggest you do a quick web search and cater it to your specific needs to cover yourself and your business information.
- Pricing/Terms/Completion Date/Job Specified/Options - all should be covered in contract and if possible review it verbally together so that you both are on the same page regarding expectations.
Research Rates (High $$$$ - Low $)
Avoid the temptation to just award to the lowest bidder, believe me it has bitten me and it still hurts *ouch. Try to find someone that can meet your budge but if you can’t find them you may just have to wait until you can afford to move forward. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day -so don’t go out and pay $1,000.00 for a start-up website for an at home business when you haven’t acquired clients to cover such. Yes you will have start-up costs but be SMART about them.
Limit personal information sharing
Until you have established a track record of dealing with an individual, keep yourself as safe as possible. I am a huge fan of outsourcing but I have experienced the good, bad and the ugly – and like I said when its ugly its UGLY.
Years ago I was hired as a project manager and contracted a young lady “awesome graphics” to complete a website for a client and was under the impression that she was doing all the work,(novice me) a few weeks later I received an email from someone in a foreign country stating they had not been paid for work completed on the site and they wanted to let me know. UGH! I was in shock. In this situation, there was no way to keep that from happening since they had my email but Thank Goodness that’s all they had. Talk about Indirect outsourcing gone bad.
Hopefully this example will help you keep in mind that some freelancers are outsourcers themselves, so remain aware and be careful. Don’t be afraid to “Ask the questions.” It should be like an interview process they have to go through until you feel comfortable to move forward. You can never be 100% safe but you can avoid a lot of costly mistakes by taking the time upfront to set clear expectations and get the answers you “need” prior to any payments being made.
Be fair with pay
Remember freelancers are in business as well. It’s not fair to expect extensive work for minimum costs, so when you find one that provides good quality, affordable costs and efficiency – keep them. Sometimes I give a small token of appreciation, in the form of a few more bucks, believe me they appreciate it.
“Establishing, respecting and maintaining good relationships will always be vital in business for business.”
Give proper feedback
The most essential key to helping freelancers better understand you and recognize your standards, is providing honest feedback. Being open about your thoughts throughout the duration of the project will also aid in professional relationship development and possibly lead the way for future assignments.
Oh I’ll give you one more…
Trust your instincts
If it doesn't feel right,it’s probably not right - so keep it moving! Check references and portfolios, if it looks made up and doctored just to appear as if they have completed work, find someone else.
Freelancers love a constant work flow but some are downright hungry for work and will say or do anything to get it. So once again, exercise patience, discretion and caution when seeking out the right ones and when you find them – CELEBRATE!
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