You are the founder of a company that has great potential for growth. You have found your market and the product or service is where you want it to be. You start to be awarded larger, lengthier and more lucrative projects. Hurray! You know you can take care of the extra work because you have a great internal team, and a couple of freelancers who you work with regularly — and trust.
Then, a client asks for more and more iterations — after all, they’re paying you more, so they can expect more, right? This throws you two weeks off schedule, meaning you can’t start working on the next project that you’ve already promised to deliver.
Suddenly, you have one disappointed client, one which is throwing you off budget, and your internal team is overstretched. Many would argue that this is part of growing up — emerging from startup to SME. However inevitable this may be, there are ways to avoid big bumps in the process.
1. Know when to delegate
Founders are often told not to do everything themselves, and often it’s the hardest lesson to learn. From winning new business, to project managing, to making sure they’re the first in and last out. It’s often very difficult for founders to let go of their baby.
Learning when to delegate and when to outsource is key to making sure your business can scale. Freelancers can be a great source of contingent help; they can pick up the slack to ensure deadlines are met, as well as giving you instant expertise when you need it most. But, if you’re in the middle of a deadline crisis you are very unlikely to want to spend time sourcing freelancers.
With a Freelance Management System, you can create a contingent talent pool that is ready to be deployed at the click of a mouse. TalentDesk.io allows you to send out invitations to your go-to freelancers, it gives you free access to 1.5 million freelancers from PeoplePerHour. And, it also allows you to add a link to your website or LinkedIn page so that freelancers can apply to you directly. This way, when the next deadline crisis looms you’ll be able to search your talent pool by skills and quickly fill the gaps.
2. Know the numbers, don’t lose control
Let’s assume you’re one of those people who’s ahead of the pack and is already using freelancers to delegate those tasks that slow your team down. You might be using some freelancers from PeoplePerHour, some from Upwork and others you work with directly. As great as it might seem, odds are that you don’t really know what you’re spending on your freelancers. Some are being paid by the accounts team (which might be you), some are paid with the company card, and others use PayPal.
If you are the accounts team you might be spending your Sunday afternoon making the various payments. Is this what you imagined when taking the leap of faith into management or entrepreneurship? How about using a system that does this all for you?
A Freelancer Management System will pay all of your freelancers for you. Freelancers raise Worksheets on the platform, you approve them and the system pays them. You will then receive a bi-weekly or monthly invoice so you know your total spend. More importantly, you’ll be able to track project budget burndown in real time. You can even allocate budget to your managers on a monthly basis, and remove yourself as the financial bottleneck. But we understand that this is a large step to take so perhaps not right from the start.
3. Put the processes in place – use your Freelancer Management System
People are your number one asset, if you can attract and retain the best talent you are guaranteed to be on your way to the top. Therefore it’s incredibly important to have a specific process in place when hiring freelancers, in the same way that you do for full-time employees.
TalentDesk.io enables you to send out customisable onboarding forms to your various freelancers. This means that you can screen people with a consistent process and you also store everyone’s onboarding information in one place. Send out contracts, NDAs, ask for portfolio submissions, you name it. Everything is accessible to authorised users with a quick search.
Freelancers are often remote workers, and a lot of them might never meet you in person. It is, therefore, crucial to give them good feedback, both for them and for you to keep track of the best performers. This is why TalentDesk.io asks you to submit a rating and a comment at the end of each project. Make your freelancers feel like they’re part of the team and massively decrease the chances of them letting you down. When they are part of your talent pool on an FMS, freelancers know it’s not likely to be a one-off job, and they’re a lot more likely to want to impress you.
4. Learn from your mistakes
Running a scalable and rapidly growing business is not easy. And, often you will make mistakes. These might result in either reputational or financial risk, so it’s important to learn from them.
Did you not have enough resources for a particular project? Did the team or an individual underperform? Did you set unrealistic expectations? Were you not thorough enough in your project brief? With an FMS you can keep track of all completed projects. Check the project spend over time and make sure you leave individual reviews for your freelancers and employees. Check out how many Purchase Orders you raised. Did a freelancer overpromise? Make sure you ask them to update their skills regularly. Adjust their hourly rate. A flexible system allows you to make tweaks to make sure the same mistake is less likely to be made twice.
We know it often feels counterproductive to stop, think and invest time and money into software. However, investing the time in improving efficiencies is a key step to scalability.
If you want to know more about how TalentDesk.io works, or want to hear about how we are currently helping our clients scale their businesses efficiently, book a call with our team directly by clicking on this link.