According to  Manta, a business marketing firm, 67% of small businesses don’t hire any contractors or freelancers. They prefer to work with full time resources. While the gig economy is growing exponentially, it is forcing small and mid size businesses to pay more to hire skilled labor. When you hire a salaried engineer, they have  an aspiration to become tech lead or a project manager, this attribute will be absent in freelancers.

Freelance contractors will be more inclined to grow their own business. In such cases, you may find it hard to grow your business and work with people without common vision. I will share my experiences on things to consider and how it can impact your startup.

Assess Your Current Business Stage

Are you currently contemplating on an idea? Or you have the POC ready.  If it is an idea, you must do a thorough research. Once you have a feedback and idea validated, you can then answer the following questions

  1. Do have the technical capability to develop the product on your own (UX, design and development).
  2. Do you need a tech co-founder and share equity with him.
  3. Do you need UX designers to build the mock ups.

This exercise will help you create the components of your team. Most startup founders work on full time jobs and directly jump to a conclusion without following a disciplined approach. Key points that you must consider are.

  • If you have the acumen of building a product, that will save your expenses.
  • If you are working with a tech co-founder, gauge their ability to mix business and technology when delivering a solution.
  • When major aspects of your business are in control, you may consider hiring a freelancer to build the mock up.

Hiring freelancers will require your time, dedication and direction to achieve the task. Quality comes with cost, it is not that easy to find freelancers who can meet your budget and requirement. You need to evaluate their skill sets to find the right fit.

In short, for the seed phase, you can consider a team of freelancers who will be managed by you or your co founder. Losing sight on key deliverables can cost your business.

As your company grows (growth stage), you can hire a team with solid industry experience to manage development work or gradually hire full time employees and create core functional units (HR, Development, Management).

Overstating Capabilities

I was working with a freelancer for a WordPress theme creation few years ago.  It was a three week engagement. The freelancer was over enthusiast and shared a great portfolio. Tall claims and expertise got exposed during the middle of the project. Once I saw the result, it was suboptimal. I also observed the slow progress in project completion was due to the engagement in other projects. Can a freelancer dedicate 40 hours/week if they are working for multiple clients and deliver value for time? In short, you have to pay double the money to get the work done. Your ideas and vision may get diluted by chasing them endlessly. The project may get halt indefinitely as your messages or emails are not replied.

Complex technology stacks require more than writing good resumes. Not every software engineer will have the capability to deliver your requirement. You must create a strong hiring process. No matter how much time it takes. If you are in a stage to not hire a full time resource, perform due diligence when hiring a freelancer.

Undefined Scope of Work

You must clearly outline the MVP scope for your project. If not, this can lead to increased overheads and delay in product development. Since you are in the early stage of your launch, there will be frequent changes. Critical business and engineering decisions will be taken by you on a regular basis. It may cause the  scope to shift from one parameter to another. Patience and maturity in dealing with situations are not easy to develop. It may force a freelancer to quit your work mid way and you are left stranded. You must spend time on defining the scope and preparing a product documentation.

You may need an expertise which is a notch above the ordinary. Hiring a full time developer who will take personal interest in guiding towards a solution is a right approach. You should look for key attributes in people that can handle unforeseen events with grace.

Communication Bottlenecks

One of my clients told me once that “I prefer working with a team of developers who have worked before, rather than hiring 4 freelancers who have never worked before”. This statement must be read multiple times. There is no clear way that the group of developers you hired will bind well.

Differences in time zone, language barrier and execution are challenges that will come your way. Communication is the focal point for success in your startup. If you are in the MVP building stage, you cannot waste time on solving issues between freelance engineers  You can look for agile teams that are organized and adhere to milestone based development approach.

Cost and Affordability

Freelancers will cost you a premium in the long run. If your idea is new and need a specialist to hit the market soon, you can hire a freelance software engineer. Once you find traction, you must take a decision to move core product development in house. Full time employees bring value by working on multiple products. They can develop a strong knowledge base and transfer to subordinates. With interest in personal growth, they can be promoted to future leaders of your successful start up.

You need to know that investing in right resources early will generate long term revenues. If it costs you to pay a premium in hiring a resource do that. I am sure, if you are confident about your product, your clients will be ready to pay for such service. Quality with affordability should be the way to approach the problem.

Conclusion

Freelance engineers offers flexibility during early stage. But, you need to do the ground check on your needs. Investing in the resource is an asset you are building. Analyze their role and how it can impact in future. Will their expertise drive your business? What core functions do you need in place? What is your business stage?

Self introspection and answering critical questions will help you take a meaningful decision and pave the way for a successful long innings in the startup world.


If you are looking for a team that values discipline, innovation, accountability and delivery, your choice is clear – Invimatic Solutions. Invimatic offers IT outsourcing and product development services to suit your needs. Our senior product consultants understand the domain and devise a plan to bring your idea or MVP to the market.