Growing your small business is exciting and challenging, but with growth, comes more work. And the number of hours in a day remains the same. How can you do it all?
Here are some resources for tackling that task list as effectively and cost efficiently as possible.
Resources are listed from least expensive (but less skilled and needing more specificity and direction) to most expensive (but self-directed and with expert knowledge).
Local college interns
University students are desperately looking for meaningful work experience to add to their resumes. Post your project on internship boards at your local university or community college. You can get interns for free, but paying at least minimum wage is a good way to keep things professional and keep everyone motivated.
“We do chores. You live life.” TaskRabbit finds you help for those not-tough-but-time-consuming tasks that sap your hours and energy. You can hire a person to help gather business cards at your next event, deliver items to clients or organize your contacts… and all at a reasonable price. For example, one owner uses TaskRabbit to help her with set up for trade shows and cooking demos.
“Where will great work take you?” Whether you need a writer to knock out a 500-word blog post or a full-fledged software development team to support your business, UpWork allows you to easily search for freelancers with specific skills.
“Business experts on your terms.” HourlyNerd is great if you are looking for a consultant to create a polished pitch deck, conduct a sophisticated market analysis or just has loads of experience at an executive level in a given industry. I recently used HourlyNerd to find a cluster analysis statistics expert. You can hire amazingly highly qualified people for a select project – and therefore at a fraction of the cost of an employee.
But how do you vet the many options presented at these sites? Here are a few best practices from owners who have learned from good and disappointing experiences:
- Clearly define the work needed to be done, especially the results you expect. Be clear on what people, time or inputs you will provide, and what the freelancer is expected to produce.
- Start with a low risk project that is not on a time crunch or needed to land your biggest client. You can stay in charge without feeling desperate if things do not go well.
- Consider giving a “try-out” to select among several candidates. Ask for samples of past work or for a paragraph based on a writing prompt. You can agree to pay them for a few hours and a specific task to evaluate the quality of the work. This step can take longer but ensures that you’ve seen the quality of the work and are not surprised (and stuck) later.
- Pay attention to the “how” of the response. Do they have a good website or profile? Do they respond quickly? How is the quality of their email responses? Work ethic, responsiveness and communication can often be as important as the actual output. Early interactions are good indicators.
Perhaps the most important part of using these resources is letting go. You can start leveraging others and as they say, working “on” rather “in” your business.