To get a new business off the ground, it's important to keep the speed and quality of development at a high rate while balancing the costs. This is why startup founders are always on the hunt for diverse, cost-effective talent, which often draws them to freelancers.
There are a lot of good reasons to hire freelance talent, instead of investing in full-time employees right away. However, working with contractors does come with some risks. Here are some important pros and cons to consider if you are thinking about hiring freelancers to help you grow your startup.
The benefits of hiring freelancers
Today the process of finding and hiring freelancers has become rather quick and painless, especially with the rise of platforms that assist in finding and hiring workers online. Such platforms enable business owners to streamline the entire hiring lifecycle, from posting job offers to selecting and working with the best-fit candidates. You are also able to track your freelancer's performance and choose a convenient payment model (hourly rate or fixed price) depending on the scope of work you need.
Moreover, cooperation with a freelance developer provides the desired level of flexibility – you can end it at any time convenient for you and find a new freelancer without dealing with paperwork.
Hiring a freelancer means having the freedom of choice among diverse skill sets. You can find workers specializing in even in the most hard-to-find technologies, or with background experience in emerging areas such as AI, data science, machine learning, IoT, etc. Moreover, with freelancers, you are not limited to one location – you have the power to search globally. This is especially relevant for countries such as the U.S. and U.K., where the demand for tech talent exceeds the local supply.
Another benefit of hiring freelancers is the price of services. According to the Global Freelance Income survey, the average hourly rate of a freelance web programmer is $21, $23 for a mobile developer, and $24 for a game developer. The average offshore developer rate reaches up to $50 in Central, South America, and Eastern Europe and up to $40 in Asia and Africa.
What's more, when working with freelancers, you are free from extra charges like infrastructure setup, health insurance, sick leave and other expenses related to hiring in-house employees.
The risks of a freelance workforce
Many freelancers juggle multiple projects at once to make the most out of their time. However, oftentimes, they can't realistically evaluate the scope and timing required to complete each separate task and simply put too much on their plate.
To cope with a growing amount of work, they focus most of their time and energy on projects that offer higher wages or have a deadline coming up. Consequently, they may start falling behind schedule with other responsibilities and miss their deadlines.
Moreover, due to the heavy workload and irregular schedule of freelancers, their response time to urgent requests is often long compared to your in-house employees.
Lack of commitment
Low commitment is a common issue among remote freelance employees. Due to the vast availability of choices and lack of contractual obligations, they may abruptly quit your project in favor of another or keep it on the back burner until the deadlines start burning. What's more, some freelancers may not have a stable internet connection or all of the necessary software, which also affects timely project delivery.
Of course, your in-house employees do not always guarantee a 100 percent success rate either. However, thanks to direct communication, regular performance reviews and a variety of perks, they are often more inclined to dedicate all of their efforts to your project and its future enhancement.
Transparency and security should be top priority for startup founders working with remote freelance employees. According to the Risk Value 2018 report, around 60 percent of respondents named temporary employees and contractors as the weakest security link within the organization. No wonder, as freelancers you work with have access to your company's systems, data repositories and process documents.
Remote cooperation often limits your ability to control the entire process. Therefore, it's important to set clear security guidelines you want your freelancer to follow, as well as conduct regular checks to ensure your assets are kept safe.
Tips on effective cooperation with freelance workers
If you do decide to hire freelance contractors to help you grow your business, here are a few important tips to follow for a solid working relationship:
Ask your colleagues for recommendations or contact an experienced staffing company to provide you with a base of reliable and vetted freelancers.
Use platforms that provide guarantees, and examine the online reviews and former work experience of potential candidates. Cooperation via freelance workplaces also simplifies the payment process between different locations.
Explore the market specifics of your target country, and consider the time and cultural differences before making any hiring decisions.
Try to keep your team stable – work with trusted freelancers on a long-term basis instead of constantly engaging new people.
Keep your communication lines open, arranging regular standups and video calls to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Use a set of tools for task tracking, continuous integration and shared repositories to keep track of the team's progress.
Create a hybrid-team chat where your dedicated employees can communicate with freelancers to maintain a sense of integrity between remote and in-house employees.
Overall, cooperation with freelancers entails both benefits and drawbacks. Some of them might not live up to their promises or meet your expectations, while others might help you solve a myriad of critical and urgent issues in a matter of days. However, by following the tips above, you'll avoid a number of pitfalls and drive maximum value from working with freelance specialists.