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10 Tips for Working With Overseas Freelancers and Contractors

Small businesses can do a lot of work virtually. What’s your best tip for working with overseas freelancers/contractors?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Maintain Consistent Contact

24-hour work schedules can make projects move rapidly. However, 24-hour work schedules also mean the other entity is working mostly while you’re sleeping. Make sure to set up windows of time (2 hours or so) where both sides should be attentive to email/Skype in order to ensure questions are answered before they delay work for an entire day. Another option is to schedule brief Skype calls.

- Emily Eldridge, Book’d

2. Use Screen Recordings

If you’re trying to explain a process, diagram or how something works, creating a quick screen recording (with a tool like Screenr) to provide a visual demonstration of it. This can often save a lot of back and forth, and provide greater clarity than a trail of typed emails that try to describe the same thing.

- Lea Woodward, Startup Training School

3. Offer Continuous Feedback

I recently learned through working almost exclusively virtually with my team to set up the UK launch that the most important factor is continuous feedback. Use collaboration platforms and social media to engage your team at all times, so you can keep a clear overview of progress.

- Christopher Pruijsen, Letslunch.com

4. Set Deadlines and Be Available

Make sure your contractors know they should be coming to you if they have questions, and make yourself available to answer them. The worst thing is to have them floundering and not moving your project forward. Setting deadlines is also a must, otherwise your project might take the back burner for other more pressing work.

- Nathalie Lussier, The Website Checkup Tool

5. Use Specialized Freelancers

Find out what they are experts in. I utilize a catalog of freelancers, but I only send projects their way that I absolutely know they are a great fit for. Expectations are huge; only hire those who have proven track records in the areas you need them for.

- Jordan Guernsey, Molding Box

6. Try Each One Out First

Interview each freelancer by having them do a test project for you. You will be surprised how many will do this just to earn your business. Tell them you have lots of projects for them and looking for a long-term relationship. Give them a detailed proposal and explain everything with a visual and drawn out example before starting.

- Ak Kurji, Gennex Group

7. Send Daily “What I Did Today” Updates

My team works 100 percent virtually, and at the end of each workday, we all complete a quick list of what we accomplished that day. IDoneThis is a great tool to make this automated and easy. It’ s essential to make regular check-ins a habit, otherwise you could find out that someone has done a week’s worth of work based on a misunderstanding, with no guidance along the way.

- Laura Roeder, LKR

8. Understanding Is Key

Make sure that the people you work with have a very strong grasp of the English language or that you are fluent in their language. Understanding 90 percent of the meaning of a communication in an informal conversation is usually acceptable. But when you’re working on important business projects, having a lack of understanding on the last 10 percent could lead to a great deal of frustration.

- Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E ®

9. Create a Solid Hiring Process

Your hiring process needs to be solid. If you need to spend more time to find the right person and pay them a little more, that’s better than quickly hiring someone at a lower rate. You’ll save hours of frustration, and come out better in the end.

- Nick Reese, Elite Health Blends

10. Just Get Started Now

The best tip is to just get started, hire someone and give them work. Don’t keep waiting, as you may never start. You are better off starting now and making plenty of mistakes than you are waiting and never delegating your work and doing it all on your own. There will always be a learning curve; the sooner you start, the sooner you cut that curve.

- Louis Lautman, Supreme Outsourcing

About the Author: The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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  • http://www.noobpreneur.com/ Ivan Widjaya

    Cheers for the kind words!

  • http://www.noobpreneur.com/ Ivan Widjaya

    Heather,

    Yes – they are very useful, indeed (thanks Ashley Lee and YEC!)

    “Make your expectations clear and speak up quickly when they are not being met.” Well said!

  • http://www.noobpreneur.com/ Ivan Widjaya

    Ti,

    That sucks, really. Unfortunately, we need to do some trial and errors when hiring a freelancer… but to cut learning curve short, there’s one tip everyone can benefit from: Be sure to give instructions in great detail; that way, there’s no room for “relativity” in your partnership with a freelancer.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  • tiroberts

    This is a great list of tips. I’ve had an experience with contracting a website developer to build one of my niche sites for me. The outcome was completely horrible but I wasn’t exactly satisfied with his work.

    That was a learning experience and now I have more of an idea of what to do and look for when outsourcing overseas.

    Thanks for sharing this great info!

    Ti

  • http://www.bizsugar.com/ Heather Stone

    Hi Ivan.
    Great collection of responses on a topic very important to anyone running a business site, or any Website that relies on freelancers. You can’t get upset with the results if you haven’t communicated effectively and monitored the job being done in the first place. Make your expectations clear and speak up quickly when they are not being met.

  • Advertise Small Business

    Your new blog is looking cool. Nice sharing. Do stay in touch and keep posting.