Question: Small businesses can do a lot of work virtually. What's your best tip for working with overseas freelancers/contractors?
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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 https://idonethis.com/ 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."
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."
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."
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."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only 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.