Start-ups, lever up – discover the power of freelancers

By: Flexing It, 24/02/2014

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You are the brave new face of Indian business. Venturing into unchartered territory, taking risks, discovering profitable niches and creating innovative solutions to solve for customer needs.  You may be the founder of a start-up or the business head for an SME but what truly sets you apart is your entrepreneurial spirit.

At the same time,however, you too are vulnerable to the harsh realities of business. Whether you have just started your company or been operational for some years, you are constantly looking for ways to fully leverage your human and capital assets and judiciously manage your resources. One approach that could help you in doing so is to look outside of your own company. Today, more and more firms like yours are waking up to the benefits of engaging freelancers and skill rich but temporary resources for getting work done. Flexingit, an online platform that provides companies with a wide range of highly skilled and flexible professionals, bears out this emerging trend beautifully. Of the 300+ organisations registered with the platform, close to 60%are start-ups and SMEs. A few examples of the ways in which high growth firms have been leveraging freelancers are: as industry advisors to provide relevant, practical feedback so that one goes into the market far more prepared; as part-time functional support of quality and maturity – as a part-time CFO, or a part-time marketing head, HR lead or a legal advisor; and for short-term, quality interventions such as targeted analytics, business modelling at a crucial juncture in the business

So if you are a start-up or SME what is stopping you from utilising this pool of resources? Here we de-bunk some popular myths with respect to freelancing so that you can help your businessmove forward.

Myth 1: My company is currently small, so I can’t afford the best

SMEs and start-ups face the perennial challenge of attracting quality talent. Although the situation today is a tad better than the past, with more fresh graduates and those from B-schools, eager to experiment with new outfits, yet these individuals are still a handful. To run a company, you need people with assorted skill sets, functional expertise and varying levels of work experience and it is unlikely that you will manage to get the best across all these matrices. One because the people you want may be more inclined to work with a well-funded and a more established employer brand. Two, you may simply not be able to afford their hiring cost.  Freelancers and independent consultants are a smart solution to this challenge, where you can choose from amongst the best and pick one within your budget. Further, the web today allows you to pick top talent from anywhere in the country or the world and reap the added benefits that come with a cloud-based, extended workforce. And in fact this route maybe a great way for your organisation to tap into the best of skills – atFlexing Itover 50%of our pool is drawn from the top 10 MBA, engineering arts and law colleges in India and overseas.

Myth 2: I am not sure I will save much by engaging freelancers

As an entrepreneurial organisation, you cannot afford to have even one employee who is not working to his/her full capacity. So until you are absolutely sure that you would be able to leverage the employee well, it is far more cost effective to outsource than create a drain on your precious resources. You will be able to get the job done without incurring heavy administrative and infrastructure costs and not have to worry about payroll and employee benefits management. Moreover business can be highly cyclical. Having an on-demand team enables you to be flexible and more responsive when the demand is high and lean when it is not.

Myth 3: Getting outsiders, explaining the job and getting them to understand our culture will result in delays

Not having a permanent job means that freelancers need to prove themselves in every assignment they undertake. Which means they not only bring their skills to the table, but also efficiency. With them, you will not have to worry about projects getting delayed on account of people issues. Also, since such engagements are very deliverables-oriented and have a clear scope of work, the chances of quality output are also good. Finally, you will also be getting someone who has spent time in that industry.

Myth 4: Freelancers are useful only if you operate in certain sectors

It is a misconception that freelancers can only be hired by certain types of companies such as those in tech-related industries (e.g. KPOs, e-commerce firms, online retailers) or those engaged in employment services. Today, small and mid-sized firms operating in sectors as diverse as healthcare, education, entertainment, financial services, pharmaceuticals, energy, retail, and FMCG, have all begun using freelancers actively and are reaping the benefits of doing so. Sample a few assignments posted on Flexingit that validate this: A healthcare start up looking for support in business plan development. A young consumer-products brand looking for support in HR/organisational development. A KPO looking for a part-time CFO to provide strategic advice on their finances.

Myth 5: I can’t really outsource that!

The traditional view was that only certain kinds of services such as creative, design, research, online marketing and IT, are amenable to ‘outsourcing’. Wrong. Today, entrepreneurs and enterprises alike are contracting independent professionals for roles as varied as accountancy, business development, product management, business analytics, software development, distribution/channel management and data warehousing. Here are some actual instances. A healthcare service provider posted a requirement for a business developer to handle its corporate tie-ups. A technology start-up was on the lookout for a Product Operations Associate to handle a large project for a specified time.A development firm wanted an expert in strategy to help landscape the issues in its area of operation.

You may also notice that most of these roles are fundamentally core to a company’s operation and not support or peripheral in nature. This further signals a growing willingness to look for creative ways to bring on knowledge and skills, in order to keep one’s business lean and viable.

To sum up, several of your peers have already tasted success by leveraging specialistsonsite or remotely, for pre-defined periods of time. You too can now do so, and in the process, discover how working with independent professionals or freelancers can help your business take a leap. 

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