Freelance workers allow YOU to focus on more profitable activities
Letting your business grow from small to medium sized is a big step. You will need more of everything, including personnel, which will drive up your fixed costs considerably. With an income of that medium sized business it should be alright, but you are not there yet. You are in the growth stage and unless you have enough cash to cover the costs over this period, your only option is to keep personnel costs variable by hiring freelancers to do the work.
Finding Freelance Workers
Let’s say you own a small website focusing on something like meat smoking products, and you want to take it to the next level. Finding willing freelancer workers could be as easy as buying and selling a pair of shoes through Ebay. It starts with posting your job on a website for freelancers like Elance.com or Guru.com. And then you will receive bids for the job by different freelancers and you award the job to the winning bid, which you choose. Normally you can receive proposals within hours and have someone starting on your job on the same day.
However, it is choosing the winning bid, which requires some attention. After all, you are not choosing a pair of new shoes. Simply choosing the cheapest one will usually not work. First of all, there are a lot of cheap offers from freelancers who are not skilled to do your job, perhaps not even speak your language, but would really love to be paid for it anyway. Secondly, the ones who are skilled to complete the job all offer different services and qualities. It is your responsibility to get the best quality that you can afford.
Building Up Your Team
Now you have seen that buying a service is quite different than buying goods, you will agree that you are not likely to buy the same pair of shoes twice in a row, but that you would like to use a great service over and over. You would want to build up a working relationship with the best freelancers that you have found.
Here are some tips on finding them and keeping them;
1. Good freelancers work in detail. By giving them as much detail as possible, you will be able to spot a difference. When posting the job, explain who you are, what you do, what the job is, what the required standard is and when you need it. The better freelancers will use this detail to give you a very detailed proposal on how they are going to tackle your job. Others will simply state a price and deadline.
2. To make sure that you have found someone who is going to do a great job for you, you should contact them before awarding the job. You can then ask some more questions and make sure that the job is understood and the terms are agreed upon. This is to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
3. When you have selected the right candidate, make sure to keep in touch while he is working on your job. You are the manager after all and need to make sure that the job is going to be done correctly and in time. A great management tip is to show that you care about the job. You contractor will respond with caring about it also.
4. After you have received the final piece of work, you should pay on time and leave feedback. If you are pleased with the contractor and would like to use his services again, leave excellent feedback and ask to stay in touch through a social network as LinkedIn
5. By treating the freelance workers as individual businesses instead of bought goods, you can develop a good working relationship. This is important for the future of your business. When you have an important project for which you need multiple contractors, you have a list of people ready to count on.
Managing Your Team
You have your team ready, and now the big project of your dreams is coming your way. You need all the help you can get to complete it, and you are pulling in the freelancers. Your task is to manage your team to come to your goals. And remember this might be a bit tricky when they are not actually sitting in your office, but are probably overseas, in different countries, in different time zones.
It is very important that you communicate your overall goal to your freelancers and the exact job of each individual, so that they all know exactly what is expected. There are lots of tools available to help you with managing a large project and the people working on it.
Here are a few examples:
1. Skype.com. Where would we be without Skype today? You probably use it already to make free calls worldwide. It is great to have a direct conversation with your contractor, instead of having to write multiple emails back and forth to explain a concept.
2. WebEx.com. is a subscription based communication tool, which allows you to hold web conferences with up to eight people at the time, like a multi-chat tool. This way you can sit your team together around the table and hold a meeting from different parts of the world.
3. Freemind.com. is a mind mapping tool, which allows you to put your thoughts, or plans in a visual way to organize them and even share them.
4. Gliffy.com lets you drag and drop shapes into a flowchart, floor plan, interface design or diagrams, in order to visualize your goals and create explanatory pictures for your contractors.
5. Jingproject.com is this great tool which takes a five minute video of anything that is on your computer monitor. It is very useful when explaining software or databases, or to make how-to videos for your contractors. You can make a voice recording at the same time. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of tools.
There are many more to help you manage your projects and your contractors. But you must remember that all the tools in the world are not going to replace your own management skills.
How can freelance workers help you get more done?
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