Freelancers: The secret to growing your startup

September 26, 2023


Your tech startup has just received its first round of funding and you’ve been given the go-ahead to scale. It’s the decision you and your team have been dreaming about and it’s finally here. By all means, celebrate your success but come Monday the real fun (chaos) begins.

The nature of investment means your product/project delivery times will come under the microscope, so notwithstanding the need for a bigger (cooler) office, a “Friday afternoon breakout area” or a need to hire more people for the operational side of the business, you need to hire more IT resources e.g. Developers.

How are you going to do it?

Freelancers of course. However, in the fairness of debate let’s deal with what I consider to be an unnecessary and somewhat distorted opinion of freelancers.

“Freelancers…”[FILL IN THE BLANK]

·      Cost more money than permanent employees

·      Don’t enhance company culture

·      Remove the option for skills to stay in-house when they leave

We can go on and on…I get it, I really do, but to support these opinions is to ignore the current context and objectives of your start-up. The fact you’ve got funding means someone believes in your business. You must repay this faith by ensuring they get a return on their investment. To put it simply, you must deliver a marketable product.

While you may argue (fairly) that this is perfectly achievable and not time restrictive enough to have to take on Freelancers, you need to also consider how hard it is to hire experienced permanent IT employees.

So why Freelancers?

1. Efficiency – The No.1 issue facing startups is the hiring of great talent. I’m sure you’ve got an excellent product and it’s essential to believe in the success/growth of your company. However, consider the associated downside of joining a startup.

If you’ve just purchased a new property, relocated countries or started a family for instance, then the following factors are going to work against, rather than for you:

·        Low employee numbers

·        The uncertainty of future investment

·        A small IT development team

·        A low public profile

The advantage of the Freelance solution is that it can be scaled up or down. It gives you the freedom to hire people immediately, but the temporary nature of their appointment keeps your decision making flexible. Additionally, your decision to hire permanent employees can then be more reflective of quality rather than just time.

The efficiency of flexible freelance contracts means you also benefit from:

·      Short term notice periods

·      Flexible working hours

·      Longer payment terms

2. Financial Responsibility – Having just received funding you’re technically flush with cash. However, miss a couple of deadlines and hire the wrong permanent employees and you’re in the throes of a cash flow crisis.

Hiring Freelancers gives you greater control of the balance sheet: [y Freelancers] x [y hours] x [y weeks] = Controlled expenditure

Remember to be fair to the company. I support the theoretical 3-year business plan but it’s the rolling 90-day plan that aligns with the reality of your business. You have a responsibility to permanent employees, where hereby promising long-term job security/L&D investment and then not delivering, will undoubtedly lead to in-house cultural issues as well as public relation problems. The last thing that any startup wants to be doing, is making people redundant due to cash flow issues. You might not come back from this.

3. Culture – Hiring Freelancers gives you access to talent that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

Their CV’s are inundated with startup/scaleup companies and projects that describe the use of the latest technologies. Hiring managers constantly talk about the positive impact that these Freelancers have on their team and the lack of management they require. They will give you your time back to focus on core related tasks.

To look at it from another perspective, you’re ideally looking to attract permanent employees and what does a permanent member of staff want from a career change???

“MANAGER, I’d like to work with…” [FILL IN BLANK]

·      Cutting edge technology

·      A large, experienced Development team

·      A company that has TIME for me to develop and train me

·      Mentors

The impact of hiring freelancers

–      Freelancers will enhance the efficiency of your projects and give you more time to focus on other areas of the business.

–      Freelancers will give you greater control of your financial expenditure, leading to a more secure future for the business.

–      Freelancers will positively affect company culture. A culture that will then attract more permanent employees.

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