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How to select the right freelancer for the job

January 3, 2017

Small businesses don’t always have the luxury of hiring a full-time staff for each business function that needs fulfilled.

One way fill the requirements gap on a shoestring is to consider using freelancers – an option that is not only more cost-effective, but also provides additional flexibility. If you are careful in your selection process, chances are the freelancer could be capable of fulfilling your role requirements just as well, if not even better!

Top 5 Reasons Why Organisations Are Increasing Their Use of Contingent Talent

  1. Leverage the increased availability of expertise
  2. Reduce cost
  3. Avoid adding permanent headcount
  4. Increase the speed of getting things done
  5. Challenge our thinking and assumptions with outside ideas

Source: Harvard Business Review

Here are a few quick tips for choosing a freelancer right for your job:

 

Do you freelance? Learn what your rights are.

1) Make your organisation attractive to freelancers

While you may think you have your pick with freelancers, successful freelancers also have their pick with clients! So what are freelancers looking for? A portfolio, of course. What’s in it for them? Are you working on an exciting project that delivers impact on the community? Post-completion, will you provide them with a written testimonial? Will they be able to associate themselves with your logo or brand, and claim credit for specific projects?

Aside from credit, flexibility is also the Number 1 thing on a freelancers’ mind – for most of them, this is exactly why they set out to freelance in the first place! What tools and processes do your organisation have in place that will help them work flexibly, or even virtually?

Related reading: The technology tools to help you do more with less in your small business

Lastly, how will you reward them? Freelancers deserve to be paid fairly, so the least you could do is pay them at market rate. When freelancers go above and beyond to deliver your expected output, consider giving them a bonus to show that you appreciate their outstanding service. Words spread quickly in the industry; so cultivate a good reputation for your company and you will be able to attract top freelancers.

Related reading: How to incentivise your employees without burning a hole in your pocket

2) Use reliable online freelancer platforms

Freelancer and Upwork are great portals for sourcing for freelancers online. Take your pick of web and mobile developers, designers, customer service agents, consultants, and more – based on ratings that have been given to them based on their past projects.

Source: Upwork

If you’re a local business requiring field support, consider Singapore-based GrabJobs who provides ready-access to part-time talent, solving big manpower issues for the F&B, Hospitality, Events, Retail, BPO, Warehousing, and Logistics industries.

3) Shortlist based on bid and profiles

Depending on the type of expertise that you require, you might get tons of bids very quickly once you post a job. However, be wary of accepting the cheapest bid even if budget is an important consideration. Shortlist the bids that fall within the acceptable range and check out the online profiles of the bidders. Freelancers who have done previous jobs would have gotten ratings from their clients, which can help you assess their work ethic and reliability. Samples of their past projects can also help you assess whether their style will fit in with what you have in mind.

4) Shortlisting Round II: Test!

Once you have shortlisted to about three candidates, test your top candidates to ensure that your freelancer is who they claim to be. The ideal test would be as close as possible to the demands of your job at hand, and take somewhere between 20 minutes to one hour. Consider paying the freelancer for the test project, in order to simulate a real working environment and ensure the freelancer puts in his best effort into the test.

Assess whether or not the freelancer has been able to produce a sample piece that meets your criteria. This test portion should allow to more realistically and accurately evaluate the suitability of the applicant, not just in terms of the deliverable, but also in terms of communication, ability to meet deadlines, and overall work ethic.

If you are still unsure about which candidate is the best fit, you can offer each a one-month trial period, which will give you more time to determine which person is the most suitable candidate.

5) Align expectations and on-board

Once you have selected your freelancer, ensure that you align expectations with your freelancers with proper documentation. You need to have a properly-drafted Consultancy Agreement that regulates the relationship between your company and the freelancer (or independent consultant) who is not an employee of the company.

Key details that should be included in a Consultancy Agreement include:

  • Scope of the freelancer’s work, the duration of work,
  • Method of payment,
  • Conditions for termination of the relationship, and
  • How intellectual property (IP) created by the freelancer is assigned to your company.

In particular, it is important for you to define clearly who owns the IP rights of the deliverable or work product that your freelancer produces. Not setting this out clearly could lead to disputes about the duration for which the IP rights are assigned from the freelancer to your company, or the conditions that must be fulfilled for the IP rights to be assigned.  

Learn more about the different legal obligations your company has towards Freelancers as compared to Employees. Download our free eBook on Employment:

Singapore version      Hong Kong version

Even though freelancers are temporary resources for your company, it is still recommended that you provide a well-structured on-boarding process for him/her. This will help connect freelancers with your company’s culture and enable them to approach their work from an employee’s perspective.

  1. Connect them (virtually) into the office. Introduce freelancers to team members via video chat. Ideally, you can illustrate team member names, titles, and contact information in an organisation chart.
  2. Gather project documents. Help freelancers get up-to-speed faster and understand expectations by providing project documentation that shows the scope, research, and other relevant information.
  3. Prep the technology. Make a checklist of any systems, applications, and programs they may need to access, such as VPN or a company file sharing system. You may want to give the freelancer a list of programs and applications in advance so they can make time to familiarise in advance.
  4. Explain the brand. Provide a brand document/brand guidelines and explain the company’s core values, mission, and expectations towards freelancers.
  5. Give information in chunks. Freelancers often digest a deluge of project, company, and industry information in a very short time. To prevent overwhelming them and opening the door to possible errors, give information to them in chunks. 
  6. Encourage questions. Freelancers should feel able to reach out when needed, or projects may veer off-course. Creating a culture where asking questions and sound boarding are encouraged can save potential confusion and time spent correcting errors.

Source: Upwork

 

With an increasingly mobile workforce and connectivity that eliminates geographical boundaries, your business’ access to great talent is boundless. Businesses today should set themselves up to be flexible and accommodating towards contingent labour so they may receive the most benefit of a flexible workforce, while limiting the administrative and logistical impact of managing them. Well-thought out processes, as well as communication through documentation, help to balance this.

Lastly, don’t forget that the freelancer you hire is only as capable as you empower him/her to be: More often than not, freelancer engagements flop not because of the lack of ability of the freelancer; but rather the fault of the organisation for not setting out the right expectations, documenting a clear brief, or executing per the freelancers’ recommendations.

Have you had any good experiences with freelancers? What have you done to ensure you select the right freelancer for the job? Share your thoughts with us below!

5 Common Startup Mistakes

December 27, 2016

Intellectual Property is usually low on the list of priorities for startups. But founders shouldn’t be so fast to write off the importance of IP, as it can prove to be an essential building block for growth, investment, and even acquisition. If you take a look at many innovative and successful start ups you will most likely find that they started patenting early, and have a strong hold on their IP portfolio.

Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions we hear from startup founders when discussing intellectual property:

 1) “My startup has nothing worth protecting”

When a founder makes this statement, it is extremely hard to convince them otherwise. But what most startup founders don’t realise is that intellectual property is not just limited to patents.

Your company name, product names and logos can be protected by trademarks. There are also lots of forms of unregistered IP, including copyright (which may apply to company brochures, website content and other literature), licensing and partnership agreements, and database rights associated with your company data, as well as any trade secrets or know-how you have developed. Intellectual property in should be recorded and founders need to have a plan in place to ensure all forms of IP are appropriately protected. 

2) “All I care about right now is getting funding”

In order to secure funding, investors will conduct extensive due diligence, including looking at your startup’s intellectual property. Investors are much more likely to consider your startup is suitable for investment if you have an intellectual property strategy in place. 

The thing to bear in mind is that it is not only about protecting at this stage, it is about differentiating your company from every other startup seeking funding. Owning the right IP proves that a company is innovative and is able to differentiate itself from competitors.

On the other hand, a company that has a number of disjointed, unrelated patents may cause alarm bells to ring and provoke further investigation. It’s good, therefore, to have the IP house in order, especially if the goal is to attract investment.

A robust patent strategy also reduces the risk of underpricing, especially as patents will provide investors with some level of comfort regarding a start-up’s defensive capabilities, while also providing insight into a company’s future product pipeline.

3) “We can think about intellectual property when we’re ready to exit”

This is another common stalling tactic for startup founders to use. While your exit strategy may seem a long way off, now is the time to put the foundations in place to make sure that nothing will halt your plans when the time to discuss acquisition or IPO comes along.

It’s absolutely crucial to be ready for M&A approaches with an extensive list of documented IP assets to hand. This is a far easier exercise to compile this list while the company is smaller and before IP proliferates rapidly.

It’s another advantage to starting the process sooner rather than later. There is also the added advantage that carrying out an IP audit exposes any weaknesses in your IP portfolio at a much earlier stage, when problems will be easier (and less expensive) to address.

4) “Patents are so expensive, it’s just not worth it!”

Yes, patenting your ideas and products can be costly in the short term, especially when you consider registering your IP in multiple territories and factoring in renewal fees – but you need to think about the bigger picture. 

In Europe, the acquisition deal value is generally four times higher for companies with European patents than those without, according to research by Antti Saari of the Aalto University School of Economics.

Taking a financial hit can be painful at the very beginning, but by failing to think about IP early on, you may be cheating yourself out of a bigger company valuation further down the line. Think of your investment in IP like an insurance policy that will help to look after you later on.

5) “I don’t need to focus on IP right now. I need to be focusing on getting customers”

Acquiring customers is always a priority for startups, but it’s difficult to emphasise how important it is to secure and assert your right to develop, manufacture and distribute your products and services, now and in the future.

_______

This a guest contribution submitted by patent analytics platform, PatSnap, and adapted from Joe Bamsey’s original article here. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

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How e-signing works with Dragon Law

December 26, 2016

As Head of Legal at Dragon Law I’m normally the one doing seminars and presentations. I get a lot of challenging questions from business owners, and recent one encouraged me to write this article.

A gentleman asked me if electronic signing (e-signing) is legal in Hong Kong. ‘Yes’ I answered confidently, ‘legal in Hong Kong, Singapore and a host of other common law jurisdictions’. This is normally enough, but he followed up with a more interesting question: Is it more open to fraud?

I used to be a specialist fraud lawyer, so I found this particularly interesting. We’re used the idea of ‘wet ink’ signatures, and seeing somebody sign with a pen leaves you pretty certain that it was they who signed the contract! But what if you don’t see them sign?

Before you enter into a contract you have no doubt communicated with the other side (it would be strange if you hadn’t), so that is why we normally comfortable with sending a contract by post or email, and why you can often sign ‘counterparts’…..each party signs a different document. If you send a document in the post then you assume that it’s signed by the person you sent it to. Why wouldn’t you?

Dragon Law e-signing uses the email (provided by the other side of course) to which a signing link is sent.  The signing dates are time stamped and the document (stored in our cloud) cannot be amended after signature (as can be done with a print out). So it might be argued, and I would strongly, that e-signing is more secure that sending a contract in the post or as an email attachment.

Not sure what e-signing is?  We’ve summarised everything
you need to know in this guide: E-Signatures

The gentleman in question seemed satisfied with my answer, but suggested that e-signing might be used to create ‘fake’ parties……fake shareholders or fake buyers maybe. This, I agreed, might be the case, but a fake name and signature can be added to a word document.

I’ve since had a good long think about how e-signing might make fraud easier than old fashioned signing. I even asked my colleagues to try and come up with any idea. No ideas yet!

Like most technological advancements e-signing is quicker, easier, cheaper, and here to stay.

Christopher Sykes

Upload and Sign your own documents with a Dragon Law free account.
Start your free 30 Day trial of Dragon Law now

 

Finishing 2016 The Right Way

December 25, 2016

The end of the year 2016 is closing in and there is a ton to do before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. In order to make the best of this holiday season, there are a few things you could get out of the way before the countdown begins! Lets take a look at how businesses can look at finishing 2016 the right way.

Sitting down to deal with legal paper work is not something we look forward to, in fact how often do we procrastinate taking even the most basic legal steps to better improve situations around us. But worry not! This Christmas use Dragon Law to make your life easier and to get the ball rolling before the New Year starts.

The New Year means new beginnings. If your business is expanding, or your favourite employee is leaving, don’t hesitate with hiring new staff as Dragon Law can help you quickly draw up a contract between you and the contender for your company in just a few minutes. Enjoy the party season knowing that you won’t have to worry or waste your resources looking for suitable candidates, and just focus on pursuing that really great business idea.

Looking to hire new staff? Click to learn more about the 12 Fundamentals of employment law with our e-book “The New Hire”:

Singapore Version; Hong Kong version.

Speaking of business ideas, if you are struck by sudden inspiration (the holiday season can bring out a lot of happy thoughts) – don’t postpone it to the point where you forget how awesome the idea was in the first place. Make 2017 the year that hesitation is a thing of the past and ambition in action – the way forward. Using Dragon Law, you can incorporate your business and have the legal documentation ready in under ten minutes.

Read all about the essentials on forming a business with our
 e-book “Incorporating”:

Singapore Version; Hong Kong version.

Motivated but still intimidated by the legal and procedural work that goes into getting started up? We are here to help you throughout the process, from knowing how to choose the right business structure when getting started up to when you should have your first AGM and getting familiar with early stage funding, even through the eyes of entrepreneurs, investors and lawyers! More so, learning from others’ mistakes can often help your process be a lot smoother, so here are a few mistakes to avoid if you are looking to start your business in Asia.

Another consideration when getting your business going is finding that perfect office, ie. the right workspace for your team. We have a few tips for you. Global cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore are great hubs to get your business started and we list 5 reasons why for each.

These cities are young and bustling and have a dynamic startup work culture. If you are looking for that perfect office space to get your business started or simply looking to cut costs from expensive monthly real estate rent, considering a co-working space might be beneficial. Great for networking and cheaper on your company expenses, these workspaces will definitely liven up your new year! Ensure your move in and agreements with the co-working space are clearly outlined and defined. The Dragon Law document building tool will help you quickly create new agreements and sign on new terms and conditions before you can say the words “bah humbug”.

Senior HR staff, please note – all your employees will be looking forward to the Office Christmas party. Why not make the night even more exciting for them this year by rewarding your employees for their hard work done in the past year. Remember happy employees leads to a happy work environment thus paving the way for your business to thrive and flourish!

This New Year come join us in being proactive and let Dragon Law take care of your legal headaches. Start your FREE 30 DAY TRIAL now. The solutions we offer are plenty and major time savers in busy times.

5 Tips for Making Facebook Marketing Part of Your Social Media Strategy

December 19, 2016

As your prospective customers spend more time online, it is crucial that you have in place an online marketing strategy to capture the attention of new audiences. But do you know where to begin?

With limited time and resources, you’d want to be spending time on the one channel that yields maximum results with minimum investment.

Facebook is the most popular social network around and an essential platform for online marketing with over 1.71 billion monthly active users.    Tweet this

Customers trust third party endorsements and family and friends more than they trust brand marketing. Presence of customer reviews on your Facebook Page help to build your credibility. Small businesses shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity to build a trustworthy online brand and reach and convert more prospects. 

Here are 5 top tips for making the most of your Facebook marketing strategy:

1) Create a professional and compelling Facebook page

Before you can start building your company brand on Facebook, you must first have a solid Facebook business page. This is a key touch point between you and your customers and will help you make the most out of your Facebook marketing activity.

Here are some quick tips for creating a solid Facebook page:

  1. Claim your Page’s vanity URL. Instead of using a randomly assigned number and URL, use a recognisable vanity URL to make your Page more shareable and searchable.
  2. Add a great cover photo. Make sure that your cover photo is optimised – 828 pixels by 315 pixels on desktop, and 640 pixels by 36 pixels on mobile. Check out more tips on what makes a good cover photo here.
  3. Add a recognisable profile picture. This should be something that is easy for visitors to recognise, such as your company logo. Again, keep in mind the ideal dimension of 180 pixels by 180 pixels.
  4. Optimise your “About” section  especially the preview. This is what appears on the left side of the page as a short blurb. Make sure that this section is brief yet descriptive to give visitors a sense of what your business is about before they decide to ‘Like’ you.
  5. Earn the “Very responsive to messages” badge. Having a response rate of 90% and a response time of 15 minutes over the last 7 days will earn you a “Very responsive to messages” badge. This assures customers of great service and your attentiveness to their needs.
  6. Add milestones. This allows you to highlight your business’ biggest accomplishments (e.g. awards, product releases, accolades).
  7. Choose a call-to-action button. Choose from seven pre-made button options (“Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Use App,” Watch Video,” and “Play Game”) and link it to any website that aligns with your business’ goals. This can be your homepage, a landing page, a contact sheet or a video.
  8. Create custom page tabs. Apart from the default tabs such as Timeline, About, Photos and Likes, create custom tabs to give visitors a specific path for what you want them to do for your Page.

Source: HubSpot

2) Share content that is visually-attractive, relevant, adds value, and includes clear call-to-action

Every time you Like a Facebook post, there are 4,166,666 people doing the same. In short, there is an insane amount of content generated on Facebook every single day. For you to stand out in this sea of content, abide by these 4 principles:

  1. Visual. Given that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, make sure that any content you create includes an image that is visually appealing and attention grabbing.
  2. Relevant. There is a feature within the Facebook advertising platform that rates your ads and gives you a relevance score, similar to Ad Rank in Google AdWords. The more relevant your ad image, copy, and destination page are to your audience, the higher you score – and the more favourably Facebook will treat your ads.
  3. Enticing value proposition. This tells someone more about your business and why they should care. Adding social proof – for instance, by offering useful content such as an eBook – helps.
  4. Clear call-to-actions. Add a CTA like “Buy now and save X%,” or “Offer ends soon” to add a sense of urgency and encourage people to click on your ad or post now.

Adapted from HubSpot

These 4 principles apply regardless of the type of content you create – whether a post, regular ad, video ad, or event page. Here are some examples of Facebook ads that successfully abide by these 4 principles.

3) It’s not just about your product; there’s so much more

If your business has had an online presence on Facebook for a while, chances are that you would have spent some marketing dollars on Facebook Ads. Marketers like Facebook ads because they can be tailored for your target segment(s), letting you reach even more people based on location, age, gender, interests and more. What businesses sometimes forget is that they can do so much more with Facebook ads, beyond advertising your product.

Here are some suggestions for how you can harness Facebook to draw attention to your business and generate more clicks:

  • Host Facebook contests. Put simply, people love free stuff. Enticing users with promotions or discounts and free giveaways would likely have minimal actual cost for your business when compared with the social media and brand awareness payoff.
  • Crowd source answers. Post a simple question to the Facebook community or use polls to get them to vote on different questions. This is a form of social listening that signals your business’ customer focus and also allows you to collect insights on your potential customers.
  • Provide unique and valuable content. Offer advice and solutions to customers through your Facebook page. This can come in the form of eBooks, blog posts or videos, and can help establish your business as a thought leader in your field.

Adapted from Hootsuite

By opening up your marketing beyond your core product, you increase brand awareness and recall, generate more leads, and open up the doors for an initial touch point with your customers.

4) Answer the question: What’s in it for me?

Visitors who come across your Facebook ads for the first time may not be compelled to click if they know close to nothing about your product. But that’s not to say they are not your target customer. They may still be in the initial phase of their customer journey where they are understanding their problem, and the solutions that are available to them.

According to Hubspot’s inbound methodology, a typical customer journey comprises of 5 different stages (Strangers → Visitors → Leads → Customers → Promoters); you nurture customers through these stages with different objectives in mind (Attract, Convert, Close and Delight), by employing different marketing methods and channels such as the ones listed below:

Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing methodology.
Source: Dragon Law Legal Academy: Doing Business Online

This “lead magnet” magic is made possible when you continuously offer useful content to draw new visitors in. Put these content behind a “gate”, or otherwise known as “content upgrades”. When your content is of value, visitors will be happy to provide you with their email address and/or other contact information in return for it.

Examples of gated content include eBooks, guides, cheat sheets, tool kits, free trials, and discounts.

Source: Digital Marketer

In short, whatever goes into your Facebook (or any other form of social media) marketing efforts, make sure you tie it back to your business goals.

Of course, driving traffic to your business’ website means that you should also put your best face forward when it comes to your website. This means paying attention to a whole host of things – ensuring that your website copy is simple and succinct, having in place crucial legal documents such as the Website Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, and building an email list to communicate with your customers.


5) Use social media management tools  

When sharing content on social media, timing is everything. The best time to reach your target audience varies according to your business, product/service, and audience demographic. It is also important to share content regularly as this signals that your business is active and constantly engaging customers.

Source: Hootsuite

Every small business struggles with limited manpower and time. Of course you’re not going to designate one person whose role shall be to create and post content on Facebook around the clock! This is where social media management tools such as Hootsuite can help. Block out a day in a week, or a day in a month, just to sit down and schedule posts to go on Facebook. This allows you to schedule your posts at optimal times and gives you a big-picture overview of how much content you have so that you can avoid overwhelming your Facebook audience. Best of all, it allows you to save you time and stress – schedule all your posts ahead of your vacation so that you can enjoy a worry-free holiday! 

Did we miss anything? What are some Facebook strategies that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!