When you’re starting out, the next best thing to ‘free’ is ‘freelance’. So once every family member with a shred of talent has been exploited (think painting the office or inventing company names), it’s time to mine the freelance quarry.
While any start-up should aim to keep the core team as small as possible, hiring companies to fill the gaps can be prohibitively expensive — because you’re paying for their rent, their receptionist and their staff drinks. So it’s worth checking out the freelance market, and pay only for the work you need doing rather than the imported beers in someone’s stainless steel fridge.
When it comes to things like marketing, technology and customer relations, you can outsource a lot of work with few overheads and no ongoing costs. We found that most of the grunt work in starting up Mozo could be done by young professionals keen for the experience. We had students doing data entry, and a newly graduated marketer churning out our promotions. Plus they were perfect for sounding out ideas about various aspects of the business – which you’re not going to get from some offsite service provider.
And you might just be surprised by the depth of the freelance talent pool. Asking around will usually reap a few names; plus there are dedicated websites for experienced freelancers in just about any line of work.
We found our copywriter through a freelancer site where you can post your job description and let people bid for the business. Now he’s back (after writing all our web copy for Mozo’s launch a year ago) to be the voice of our new campaign. How’s that for inexpensive consistency?
Having them come to you is usually a bonus, so they can get a feel for your business (and you can get a feel for them). This way, you’ll benefit from an individual approach, where a company’s services are offsite, standardised, and charged at a higher rate.
Just think: the difference in price could net you a stainless steel beer fridge of your own.