You launched your business and it’s starting to gain some traction. About the same time, you also realize there’s no way you’ll be able to build this business on your own — or, said differently, you know it would be insane to try. Luckily, for business owners with budgetary constraints (meaning all of us), there are options. In today’s “gig economy” there are plenty of talented people who (either by necessity or by choice) are building their careers through a series of part-time jobs and freelance positions.
What does that mean to you? It means you have the option to staff up or down based on your needs at a particular time. You can hire a developer to run a particular web project or a copywriter to pitch in when you’re too busy to update your blog. While you might not have to hire all of these folks at once, read on for our checklist of people to keep in mind — and have in your back pocket — as your business scales:
- Web/mobile application developer: It’s no secret that even offline businesses need a web presence. If consumers like a boutique jeweler’s goods but don’t have time to do more than just window shop, they expect to be able to go to the website to browse more and purchase. Further, mobile applications can be a huge differentiator between you and your competitors, and they can also be a great customer acquisition tool.But if technology is not your core business, the great news for you is that there are tons of efficient options for you to choose from in hiring a developer. If you’re willing to manage the process yourself very intently, you can go offshore, or you can hire a college or engineering student. Or if you need more of a full-service approach, there are thousands of development shops out there ranging from one person to 100 people worldwide.
- Copywriter: Do you write a blog? A newsletter? Contribute to other blogs? In today’s world, where reaching customers online is an important part of marketing, lots of time must be devoted to creating quality content. Writing assignments are perfect for delegating, and they can be project-based, so it’s easy to scale your resources up or down depending on what else is going on in your business.
- Social media expert or assistant: If social media is part of your marketing plan, there are many ways to tackle it. I you don’t feel totally confident with the tools used to navigate and make an impact in the complex social media landscape, you can hire an expert to help you set a strategy, then execute it yourself Along with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for example, does HootSuite, Ping or SocialOomph ring a bell? Alternatively, if you can put on paper the guidelines for someone else to execute your strategy, you’re ready to bring in someone to give you a hand. Social media can be addictive and fun — and it does generate results if you do it right. It isn’t rocket science, either, which is why the No. 1 position we consistently see growing companies hiring for is a social media intern.
- Public relations associate: This is another area you can tackle in a variety of different ways. If you’re coming up on a particularly important time in your business where you feel press coverage is needed, one solution is to put down a PR firm on retainer. Alternatively, you can hire a PR consultant to help you craft your pitch and identify media contacts for you. If you feel you need media training, PR consultants will provide it (though it isn’t cheap!). You also can do the heavy lifting yourself and hire a PR intern to help you pitch.
- Business development associate: It’s true that as an entrepreneur, business development and partnerships are probably something you hold near and dear, and you might not trust someone else to execute. It depends on your expertise and focus. If you’re a tech- or product-focused entrepreneur, having someone on hand who is well-connected and who loves to schmooze can be a lifesaver. It’ll keep you focused on your core business and in the office, where you love to be. If you’re a sales-y entrepreneur, an associate can be more helpful than you might think — to help identify leads and prepare materials.
Last, some parting wisdom: Look early and have many names in your Rolodex. Chances are — if you’re like us — once you decide it’s time for a mobile app, you’ll want that person onboard yesterday. And the very nature of part-time help is that you will need different types for different projects. Today’s blogger is not necessarily tomorrow’s newsletter editor, so you’ll need a big stable of folks in your Rolodex to help you grow.
Cari Sommer and Lauren Porat are the Founders of Urban Interns a New York City-based national marketplace that connects small-business owners with part-time help and interns. Urban Interns was named one of America’s Most Promising Startups by Business Week. Through ongoing research on the hiring trends of business owners across the country, Cari and Lauren have become experts on the topic.