It’s Thursday afternoon. You’ve signed a contract template with a large client after submitting a great proposal template, and your current team doesn’t have the manpower to keep up with the work. The project is scheduled to begin Monday, and you don’t have a clue where to start. Before you start biting off more than you can chew, here are some simple ways to quickly scale your freelance agency.
Before you begin selecting contractors for your project, you should already have a fair idea about who you are, what you stand for, and what you need. Finding quality contractors will take a little work. Think about it, independent contractors are exactly like the name implies – independent. They are free to work with anyone, and they may not automatically want to work with you if your freelance agency does not seem well-organized and thought out.
As a business, you will likely have already thought about your brand. It is the image that your company presents to the public. It is the embodiment of what your product or service is about - embraced throughout every part of your business. It is the standard you should hold everyone associated with your freelance agency to, including your independent contractors.
Defining your values is similar to defining your brand, except it can be a bit more personalized. Your values, in relationship to your freelancers, will dictate your style of freelance management. Do you value the highest quality, or is speed the highest priority? Clearly define these values before you search for help. Here are some company values from seven popular businesses to inspire you.
Defining the actual project is the most elementary step toward finding quality talent for your freelance agency. Write up a project summary that clearly states the project goals, expectations, and deliverables. Set a precise due date and have a budget prepared. These small considerations for the details make a huge difference when freelancers are deciding whether or not they want to work with you.
Now that you’ve clearly defined who you are, what you are about and what you need help with, you are ready to start searching for your ideal freelancer.
This part of the process will take the longest, no matter what method you use. However, the good news is: you can create one or many pools that you pick from over a period of time. So, you could do this process once a quarter or even once a year, and always have a pre-screened list of freelancers to choose from.
There are a few ways to create a pool of freelancers for your freelance agency. One way is to use freelancing sites such as Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr to search for freelancers. These sites provide a convenient service for busy agency managers because you can search for freelancers based on a variety or search parameters, compare reviews, and see work samples. The drawback to these sites, however, are the high fees, large amounts of fraud, and sometimes awkward freelance management tools.
Another way to source freelancers is by placing freelance project listings on sites like Craigslist or Indeed. These sites are typically crawled by freelancing websites and those looking for freelance work. If you use this method to find new talent, be sure to create a clear job description that asks for samples and references. Many job sites provide no protection for freelancers or those hiring them.
Once you’ve selected the freelancers that you like, let them know you would like to include them in your personal talent pool. This doesn’t mean you have to hire them. It means shortlist them.
For example, you may find that some freelancers have the exact skillset you need but are not within your budget. Shortlist them – you may have a client in the future with the budget for their services. However, let that freelancer know you are interested in working with them and ask for their permission to stay in touch.
It sounds silly, perhaps, but there are some reasons for this strategy. By letting an independent contractor know you are interested in doing business with them, you become a lead. To get your business, they may lower their rates or otherwise make themselves available when you do call. Once you’ve created your pool, invite your freelancers to your freelance management system and keep track of them for free.
Bonsai not only provides a place to store your list of freelancers, but it also provides powerful freelance management tools that save you time in the long run. With your account, you can onboard new freelancers, save notes about their availability, invite them to projects and manage payments. You can also save them for when you are ready to work with them.
If you’re already using Bonsai to keep track of your pool of freelancers, you’re well on your way to simplifying freelance management. This is because Bonsai provides everything necessary for managing both freelancers and individual projects.
Freelance management is broken down into 5 easy steps:
Bonsai manages these steps, making the process of freelance management nearly automated. Plus, you’ll have a record of every project (by every freelancer) stored on an easy-to-read timeline. This is handy for when you need to repeat a previous project with a different freelancer, but don’t need to rewrite the project description. Simply copy the description from that freelancers’ list of projects, and you’re good to go.
Paying your freelance staff can be a huge headache for any freelance agency if not organized correctly. Depending on the size of your team, it can either take a few minutes or a couple of hours. The freelance payment process works best if you already have a freelance management workflow that connects deliverables with contractor, and projects with rates. Otherwise, you’re stuck reading numerous emails from people asking for money, and you don’t remember how much you owe them.
This problem can be completely eliminated. From the moment a freelancer is invited into your talent pool, every part of their involvement in the project is tracked. It starts with the signing of the contract and ends with the freelancer submitting their finished work. When you receive an email from them asking for money, it will have their deliverables attached, and the method of payment already verified.
Freelance management tools do a few other things as well, such as:
This only works, of course, if your independent contractors complete their projects through the Bonsai workflow. This is where proper freelance management is important – set your expectations for organization and simplicity at the beginning by inviting freelancers into your pool before you hire them. This gives them time to become familiar with the platform and makes them more likely to use it.
As a freelance agency working with independent contractors, reviewing invoices will be a regular part of your business processes. Make it easy on yourself by using Bonsai.
If you’ve followed the above steps, it will be simple to put together a freelance team on the fly. For the best results, try and build a freelance pool with at least 5 candidates for every project you are looking to complete. That way, if your top choice is busy on other projects, you’ve got at least two other people that can help you out.
Once you’ve scrolled through your list of pre-screened candidates and reviewed the notes you left, simply choose the best one for your project, add the project details and invite them to start working. Word of advice: it’s typically a good idea to give the freelancer a ‘heads up’ by sending them an email first.
Bonsai's free trial makes it simple for any freelance agency to run their business.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?