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How to scale up, scale back and keep your startup flexible – StartupSmart

Engaging with freelancers can give you access to valuable skills all around the world, and a passionate workforce to help you towards success


Startups know that the big idea is only half the battle. The major challenge lies in finding the resources that allow you to scale up and down again as you find your wings in the world of business.


Many new businesses are addressing scalability issues by turning to online work platforms to test their enterprise. That way they avoid the burden that naturally comes with hiring full-timers.


Kyri Theos, country manager of Elance-oDesk says hiring freelancers online makes it easy for startups to engage with skilled professionals as needed.


These days, 40% of projects posted by Australian businesses are coming from the flourishing startup fraternity, who appreciate being able to pay once the task is complete, mitigating risk, Theos says.


Being able to access talent all over the world in specific niche skills that you can’t always find locally gives startups a massive advantage, he says.


New businesses are turning to online platforms because its costs less to have work completed, offers greater flexibility, is faster to hire someone, the work is often completed quicker and the quality better, and the person can work remotely, Theos says.


“Australian startups are turning to freelancers to complete meaningful projects that they don’t have the skills or time to tackle.


“The way we approach hiring people has been completely transformed. Suddenly, professional relationships don’t need to be bound by geography, which opens up a vast talent pool previously unknown to people trying to launch a business.”


Freelancers can help with any kind of work that can be done in front of a computer, from software engineering, application development and graphic design to copywriting, data science, customer service and more,” Theos says.


To track down the right freelancer for you, break down your workload into projects and identify which jobs could be tackled by a professional, Theos says.


“Start by writing down the skills you’re looking for and decide on a timeframe. Then, decide whether you want to hire someone on an hourly or fixed price basis. Hourly projects are useful for ongoing work or if the scope of the project may change.


“Also, remember that freelancers are generally professionals who work online for a living, so set the price at a level that you believe is fair,” he says.


Look beyond price when deciding which freelancer to hire, and look for personalised responses that give attention to detail and follow a logical structure, he advises.


Also, some freelancers will attach samples of their work in their proposals, so give the most weight to samples closely related to your task, Theos advises.


“Select the freelancer most excited by the opportunity to work with you. This shows that they’re truly interested, which means a higher quality deliverable at the end.”


Once you’ve shortlisted your top candidates, review the freelancer’s ratings, work history, accredited skills, and examples of past work, he says.


And don’t be afraid of profiles from new freelancers using oDesk, as these people may be more motivated to impress you in order to launch their freelancing career, Theos says.


When hiring a freelancer for a long term project, consider running a small test project to evaluate the professionalism of two or three freelancers before selecting one, he says.


Also, if providing sensitive information, ask freelancers to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before engaging in further discussions to protect your intellectual property.


“When you’re ready to select a freelancer and finalise negotiations, confirm the price and the job terms before awarding the job. Once you get started, you’ll find that hiring talent online is safe, fast and effective,” Theos says.


For more information on using freelance talent visit



Writer: Nina Hendy

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