The beauty of launching a startup or running small businesses is that they are lean, nimble, flexible and fairly inexpensive nature. The downside, however, is a shortage of resources (e.g., funds, people, expertise, etc.) to conduct daily business operations.
Luckily, we live in a service economy and we’ve seen a rise in software as a service (SaaS) tools and professional service outsourcing. One key resource that fills this gap include freelancing platforms.
Startup shortcomings and opportunities
Startups are usually self-funded on a shoestring budget for 12-18 months post inception. After which period they tend to remain fairly small in size in terms of number of employees in order to keep the operational expenses low and remain lean, nimble and flexible. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule when startups turn to angels and venture capitalists (VCs) for seed funding; subsequently series A, B and C funding.
Whatever the case may be, a small, quick and nimble startup has great advantages in today’s customer centric and market driven economy. The needs, wants, desires and pains of customers are constantly changing. If your business is small and flat in structure (i.e., fewer reporting layers between the CEO and foot solders on the ground) there are enormous advantages as strategy changes.
The same cannot be said of large enterprises with a very steep – vertical – structure and many reporting layers between the CEO and foot soldiers. These mammoths may have power and market share, but they are very rigid and slow to adapt to change, which often leaves them vulnerable.
The rise of the freelance economy
So, how can startup founders and small business owners bridge the gap and address shortcomings? Well, when it comes to a lack of in-house expertise and personnel resources, outsourcing to freelance marketplaces is an attractive option. Freelance platforms offer admin, accounting, blogging, graphic design, legal, marketing, web development, procurement and more, fairly quickly and inexpensively.
In recent years we’ve witnessed a freelance marketplace revolution. It has resulted in the launch of a myriad of freelancing platforms worldwide. In the U.S. alone, “Freelancers now make up 35% of U.S. workers and collectively earned $1 trillion in the past year, according to the ‘Freelancing in America: 2016’ survey.”
On the one side, mature freelancing platforms such as Freelancer and UpWork boast a huge number of members and a “quantity over quality” mentality. In contrast, freelancing platforms such as Toptal and, my own company, Parttimerz are all about quality of freelancers with a “quality over quantity” mindset.
Outsourcing is here to stay. Meanwhile, as startups look to scale efficiently, freelance marketplaces continue to match freelancers with projects in a timely, cost effective and level of expertise that is hard to achieve alone.
Gone are the days of the “get big or perish” notion. Today, startups can thrive and leverage the resources they need to compete against established players.
This article has been edited.
Dzenan Skulj is a Co-Founder and CEO at Parttimerz. He’s a serial entrepreneur who’s utterly passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, freelancing and helping people detect their life’s purpose. He is a outspoken proponent of self-employment and blogs extensively about startups, entrepreneurship, freelancing and self development.
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