Every Startup Needs a Freelance Consultant

Every Startup Needs a Freelance Consultant

Disclaimer: I run Uplift, a software consultancy specializing in building quality projects or providing staff augmentation in fin-tech, health-tech and ed-tech. This blog post is for you if you want to delegate work and want the best people for the job.

Every startup needs a freelancer. Why? Let's put it another way: at some point or other, every startup has hired a freelancer (because they needed one). Also, every startup founder is a freelancer because they work for free (a joke 😃😆).

Think about being a startup and you'll recognize how you are often scrambling to figure out how to best do X. You are faced with so many problems every day, and so many of them seem too huge to tackle on their own. At one point you meet someone who really listens and can help you with your problem:

That? Oh, I could do that for you for $5,000 and have it done in 2 weeks.

Here you are, having no idea how long it would take. With all the uncertainty of being a startup, why not get a sure thing from a specialist? You're faced with these kinds of uncertainties every day, you should hire someone for at least some of it.

Why should you hire a freelancer?

Here's the gist:

Freelancers are guaranteed (by the market) to be worth their money

Freelancers that have been around long enough know what they're worth.

Freelancers can provide top-shelf experience

Some of the best people you can find to do a job will be freelancers. Think about it: those who are the best also value their own freedom. This is why most employees who are the best also get flexibility (ultimately, legally, being an employee is less flexible, unless you are the boss).

You may not be able to find an employee that knows exactly what you need. But you can find a freelancer.

Corollary, if you're a freelancer: A freelancer's job is to know what the market needs.

Freelancers onboard and produce quickly

The best are used to jumping into new projects and delivering value right away.

Freelancers will refer you to others they trust

Freelancers get most of their work through referrals, so they are usually connected to other freelancers. They can reach out for help, so when you hire one, you get the benefit of the whole network.

Why should you support freelancing?

It's in line with American freedoms

And any individual's freedom. As a citizen of a democracy, and a free country, we have the right to:

  • Make our own schedule.
  • Make our own job. A job where we get to do what we love, so you can imagine being good at it comes naturally.
  • Decide what we're worth and charge that (Side note, if you're a freelancer: and be happy with it. Your opinion whether it's high or low doesn't move the market – unless you're already influencing the market — this train of thought could keep going.)

It provides you with a flexible additional resource

Freelancers can be hired for specific jobs and then move on. The best freelancers will also leave you with a plan for the future without locking you into their services.

They can be critical in times of growth or downturns

Experienced freelancers have seen them all and can help you get through a growth period or be very efficient with what you have. Each may specialize at different things, but they exist.

They are happy with what they do

The freelancer has a work and lifestyle they enjoy so they want to maintain that. You don't need to worry about what benefits/perks to provide to make the freelancer happy or more productive: that's on them.

In this arrangement, both sides are incentivized to work well together.

Myths of freelancing

Here's the gist:

A freelancer is more expensive than an employee

Many freelancers that have been around for a few years can tell you: I listen to the market and I charge what people are willing to pay.

The main exception to this is high end / low supply markets where pricing may be set on a case-by-case. (Side note, for a freelancer: This is why you narrow your focus.) But we live in a free world, there's always competition.

A freelancer is a HUGE risk to hire. What if they disappear on me? An employee will stick around.

So there's two parts there.

First, is the risk. Many freelancers have business insurance. Ask for a proof, and then you'll know if they're serious about freelancing. (Uplift is!)

Second is dependability. Experienced freelancers have been around for long enough to know that happy clients are the best part of work in the first place. It's much easier for a freelancer to continue working with an existing client than to get new ones. As a client here, you can ask for references. Check with other people they've worked with. (Corollary: If you have happy clients, they will help you grow voluntarily! They will refer you to those clients, and even the nervous ones would give you a try if their trusted business friend raved about you!)

And third, just pay for the agreed services and you're done. No need to provide severance packages or other benefits (hence why freelancers get to charge more – they assume more risk!)

Freelancers are just people who can't get real jobs

They may not fit a stereotypical job, but if they're still freelancing after e.g. 5 years, they must be providing enough value to their clients to make a living, right?