I’ve always been interested in the startup journey and how entrepreneurs navigate each stage differently. Furthermore, I’m forever curious as to how much work founders take on themselves versus how much they outsource to others throughout their respective journeys.
I’ve always been interested in the startup journey and how entrepreneurs navigate each stage differently.
Furthermore, I’m forever curious as to how much work founders take on themselves versus how much they outsource to others throughout their respective journeys.
Many early-stage startups have a strong DIY ethos and therefore undertake a lot of work themselves, be it branding, web design, marketing, pitching, accounts, or hiring. You name it, they do it.
While their tenacity and resourcefulness is to be admired, their DIM (do it myself) approach means that it can sometimes take months to get their product or service to market and when it eventually gets there, the results can often be fairly shoddy. The term "spreading your butter too thin" comes to mind.
If you're a founder, it might be worth outsourcing some of your workload to freelancers. Another way to frame it is to ask yourself "what is my time worth?". Speed is of the essence when launching a new startup. If you’re spending time teaching yourself HTML rather than pitching for investment, it might be time to ask for some help.
Now, if the mere mention of outsourcing your work makes you anxious, hear me out for a sec.
I’m not going to pretend that I know how difficult it is to trust someone to work on what’s essentially your baby. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for some entrepreneurs to let go.
But it’s worth noting that the majority of freelancers are highly skilled at what they do. Furthermore, most have worked with a wide range of clients, including founders, and they know how important it is to ensure that the work they produce for you aligns with the brief you provide them with.
The reason it can feel counter-intuitive to hire freelancers early on is that the return on investment is often intangible and related to time not income. If you’re ready to embrace a few specialists who will add enormous value to your business, I’ve highlighted a few stages along the startup journey where freelancers can best be of use.
Assembling pitch decks
You’ve set up meetings with potential investors and you’ve put together a pretty basic PowerPoint presentation. However, you're not entirely satisfied with it. Perhaps the overall aesthetic is pretty basic and uninspiring, or maybe you’re finding it hard to keep your copy clear and concise.
A freelance graphic designer or copywriter can help give your presentation the lift it needs to help potential investors easily engage with and understand your business idea.
Investors really liked your idea, so they’ve funded a prototype. Now you need to create a piece of software, likely an app, but you have limited experience in software development. Could you teach yourself the skills required to develop your prototype? Probably, but that would likely exhaust a lot of time and resources you don’t have.
A freelance developer, UX or UI designer can help you create a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing prototype. All you have to do is supply them with a thorough brief detailing the different elements and features you'd like included.
So, you’ve created a prototype and successfully tested it in the market. It’s an exciting time.
At this point, you’re probably taking some time to flesh out and properly establish what you want your startups branding to look like.
How do you want your startup to look and feel to customers?
Can you design your startups branding yourself? Absolutely. Would I advise you to? Nope.
I’ve used free sites to create brand logos, for example, in the past. While they do the job, I wouldn’t really recommend them. Why not? If you want your startup to be taken seriously, you need to ensure that your branding is on point.
A freelance graphic designer understands what colours, fonts, graphics etc. will best align with and represent your startup's mission and values. They know how to create impactful branding that will stand the test of time.
Once you’ve established how your company's branding should look and feel, it’s time to set up a website that works well and looks good across a range of devices, whether it be laptops, mobiles, tablets etc.
It’s really important to optimize your website functionality from the get go. While there’s always the option of creating a website yourself, I’d highly recommend working with a freelance web designer to ensure that your website is fast and easily navigable.
SEO is a word that’s bandied around a lot these days, but for good reason. You need to optimize your site to increase its chances of appearing in your potential customers search engines.
How can you improve your SEO? Aside from creating a strong website from the outset, you’ll need to publish high quality content from your website on a regular basis, featuring relevant keywords and meta descriptions.
If you're not a wordsmith, consider touching base with a freelance copywriter. SEO is now part and parcel of their everyday work, so they'll be able to help you out.
You're ready to launch your product to the market.
To ensure that you engage with a large audience when you launch, it’s really important to promote this milestone effectively.
First, you’ll need to write up and send out a press release. It’s really important that your press release is written well to ensure that it’s picked up by the news publications you’ve sent it to. I’d also recommend sending high quality launch images to complement your press release.
If press releases are new to you, it might be useful to work with a freelance copywriter and a freelance photographer to ensure your startup launch gets sufficient coverage.
These freelancers can also help to ensure that the content you're using to promote your startup launch on social media is original and impactful, in order to maximise engagement with potential customers.
The startup journey can be a long and challenging one which requires years of hard work, dedication and perseverance.
I really admire entrepreneurs' tenacity and resilience and I believe that those of us who aren’t entrepreneurs can learn a lot from their can-do attitudes and dogged work ethics.
If you're an entrepreneur and you find that you need a hand at any stage on your startup journey, I hope that this article has adequately highlighted how freelancers may be of help.
If you’d like to speak to us about finding a suitable freelancer, feel free to get in touch with us here.