Should you quit your job and be a freelancer?
In February 2016 I got an interesting job offer by email. The pay was good and considering that I was living and exploring Bali at that time I could save a lot. Compare to my last full-time job, their pay was four times higher and the life expenses in Indonesia was three times lower than New Zealand. So is it safe to say that freelancing is gold? Lets find out.
These days you can find a lot of articles talking positively about freelancing. They are politically correct, however I fail to see anyone mentioning the dark side. You know those cases that things has gone wrong. Very wrong.
If you are a full-time employee and living a cubicle life in a company, you know there are days when events don’t unfold as exactly as you have planned and expected.
In situations like these nobody is happy and when things go south, employers prefer to have their team onsite. Simply because – psychologically – it gives them the confidence that the remedy is here and everything is going to be OK soon.
But how about the online freelancers and what can you do – as an entrepreneur – to:
- Minimize the chances of those unexpected situations from happening
- When an incidents happens, handle it masterfully
The answer is quiet simple. You need to:
- Understand your business and its requirements fully
- GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE (PREFERABLY TOP %3) TO DO THE JOB FOR YOU
As an entrepreneur do you really know what you need? And how to find the right freelancers for your job?
Over the years I developed a strategy to find out how confident is my next potential employer when it comes to his business. I divide every offer into three sections:
- We are (company info goes here: the team, company background, mission)
- We are looking for (tech job title goes here)
- Create/maintain/test (the project goes here)
The trick is to find if there is any conflict between any of these three sections. For example if an advert says:
We are a STARTUP, looking for a SENIOR WEB DEVELOPER, to create a WEBSITE for our new booking services.
They have no idea what are they talking about. A booking system is definitely bigger than a website. Perhaps what they had in their mind was a couple of “Web Services” which work together to form a “complex web application”, NOT a “website”.
What that ad suggests is we don’t know what we are doing and we are looking for someone who does and since this is the area that makes us uncomfortable, there is a high chance that we are paying/will pay wrong salaries/hourly rates to our individual team members.
Have a look at the popular freelancing web applications like oDesk or Freelancers.com and you can see the point right away. Simply create a new offer in those places and copy and paste the ad I mentioned earlier. It doesn’t take too long that professionals(?) start pouring their offers as cheap as $10 per hour. In case you are willing to get your unclear job description done by a cheap freelancer, then can you imagine what the result will look like?
Knowing what you need is critical and then it is even more important to find the right people to do the job. You might be able to recover from financial losses (caused by hiring the wrong people) but you never get back the time that you have lost.
So what is the solution?
Pay higher and get the right professionals. The questions is how much higher and where can I get the right people. If you don’t have time to check professional social networks like LinkedIn yourself or don’t feel very confident about the quality of services you have got from job agencies, I suggest to try places like toptal.com.
They have a killer screening process. If a professional wants to join their network he/she should have a proven track record and pass a 5 step filtering process which means only top %3 get a chance to join them. It guaranties the quality of your work. No $10/h freelancer is welcomed here and your business requirements are handled by a network of like-minded professionals who know how to make things work properly.
As a senior web developer I had a chance to work with various teams on different projects. For me it is very important to work with people who value the professionalism. I believe it is a privilege to find a project/team with that kind of mindset. And that is why I choose to join toptal web developers network and increase my chances to be among people who speak my language.
In the next blog I will talk about the offer I mentioned at the beginning of this post and talk about what went wrong. Then I will explain how things could be done differently if they would’ve hired other team members from top %3 professionals.