If you are a founder with that amazing idea, one of the first steps you’ll take will be to get your team together. The gig economy is booming as we speak, and so can your business if you jump on this train and get yourself some expert services from freelance marketplaces.
Traditionally, there have been two common approaches:
- hiring full time employees or
- contracting an agency to deliver a product.
Try something new! Consider building a team of freelancers to stay on the flexible side.
Why you should not limit your business to a small full time team
Starting out, you’re probably on a limited budget. And even if that’s not the case, why burn money if you don’t have to? But at the same time, limiting your business to a small team is a limitation indeed. You and your team will try to learn many skills from scratch and it will take you way more time than it would if you got expert help.
Hiring used to be a nightmare. However, with the ever improving freelance marketplaces, it’s becoming easier, safer and faster by the day. You can post a job / browse profiles, get in touch, start a hassle-free contract using your credit card and you are on your way. The marketplaces take care of the payment safety (escrow accounts, logging tools etc.) and there is always reviews which bring extra confidence.
The crucial points for contracting freelancers over hiring full time employees and working with a small team:
- Bottom line, for the same budget you will effectively have many more experts with various skills in your team. And that’s not because that’s cheap and low quality service, it’s because these experts work for you only when you need them, and spend the rest of their time getting even more experience and knowledge on the other projects. Once the hiring procedure has been sorted out by the marketplace services, you can feel free to reach out to any expert at any time, even if you need a one hour consulting. Why not talk to a software architect to decide on the tech stack prior to hiring developers? How about a chat with a domain expert who understands the problem you are attempting to solve? Maybe a UX expert can share his opinion about that mockup you’ve made, or a UI designer can give a final touch. What if you could get just a pinch of an accounting mind, a paragraph of mind-blowing copywriting, a twist in optimization for search engines, a pimped landing page, a boosted conversion from your FB ads or a piece of code for a custom feature to distinguish your website from the others. All the brain power you’ve ever wanted is one click away, available when you need them, and how much you need them. So you can easily work with an expanded team which ensures that you always have the right person for the job, at the right time.
- You don’t need to know in advance which experts you will need. Managing your business in a lean way, you’ll probably wait for the feedback on one iteration in order to plan the next one. And only then you will know what your focus will be and which expertise you will need. The feedback on the new release of the product itself, or the retrospective of the team work in the past iteration, will help you decide if you need an additional expert for the following phase. Hence your need to consume expertise on demand – exactly what the freelance marketplaces offer.
Why building your own freelance team beats working with an agency
Another one of the traditional moves, alternative to hiring your own full time team, has been to contract an agency to deliver your product. Here are a few points on which freelancers overpower this concept:
- An agency will always suggest the resources they have available at that moment and the technologies these employees are familiar with – or you can decide on the tech stack that best suits your product and get exactly the people you need from a marketplace.
- An agency will always pad the estimates to stay on the safe side and probably to cover the salaries of the team when they are idle – when you run your own show you are paying exactly the hours worked.
- There will probably be the main point of contact appointed by the agency and the rest of the team tends to stay behind the wall, which leads to lack of transparency on who is doing what, and even whether the team members have changed during the course of the project. When you build your own team, you have a direct access to each expert and full transparency on who is doing what at any given moment.
- Some freelancers might grow into a role bigger than you expected and contribute to your business in more than one way. Remember, the agency employees have signed contracts that prohibits working directly with the agency clients. There goes your potential CTO right?
- An agency will probably need you to freeze the requirements so that they can plan their resources – with your team of freelancers you are in control of your product and can stay agile and adjust on the go.
- An agency usually has the deadline as the main goal, as it’s the easiest one to measure. If that goal is at risk, the quality goes down. Running your own dev means you can decide on the price / performance equilibrium the way you see fit.
- In the online world of today, there is no such thing as a completed product. If you want to stay in the game, you need to constantly respond to users feedback. Hence the need to always have the people who are familiar with your product and available to jump in when needed. With agency it means paying retainers, and also if the agency closes down for any reason, you are left with nobody familiar with your product. On the other hand, establishing long term on an as-needed basis relationship with your freelancers means that you will probably always have at least some of them available to help out.
The freelance marketplaces taking away the pain of the hiring process has been a huge game changer. Take this new opportunity to avoid locking your business in with fixed teams and agency contracts. Stay lean, flexible and open to new cooperations with the experts one click away – on freelance marketplaces.
Tijana Momirov is a software engineer, product manager and founder of StartupSetup where she helps founders start their startups, all in a remote, agile and super lean way leveraging the gig economy. She’s been a full time nomad since 2010 and loves blogging and giving talks about nomadic lifestyle, managing remote teams, future of work, the gig economy, productized services and more.