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Startups: 7 Worst Practices for Working With Freelancers

A great working relationship is the key to successful online work. However, given the crazy and stressful environment startups often find themselves in, it’s not uncommon for startups (and businesses of all size, actually) to fail to follow best practices. When this happens, your client-freelancer relationship can go down the drain fast.

Here are some tips on things to avoid – unless you want freelancers pulling their hair out and mumbling your name under their breath:

1. Post a vague project description. Freelancers need specifics to be successful. If your online job post is wishy-washy on everything from the scope of work to delivery dates and final deliverables, you’re well on your way to some name calling. “Loser” is a term you may hear a lot.

2. Lowball the price. A website for $100 bucks? A blog article for $5? A mobile app for $50. Go for it! Some sucker will eventually take the bait and run with it. But once reality sinks in, your freelancer will realize that it’s easier to make money selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. And the door will get slammed shut.

3. Never give concrete examples. When discussing the project, speak in generalities at all times. Even if you know of a company that’s doing exactly what you want to do, there’s no need to pass that information on. It would only make their job easier, and that’s not your goal now is it?

4. Ignore your freelancers. Ignore their emails, phone calls, texts, pings, payment milestones, questions, you name it. Ignore your freelancers and, pretty soon, they’ll ignore you too! It becomes sort of a fun game … until they want payment for work to date. Oops.

5. Ask for “Oh, one more thing.” Sure, freelancers are paid for their time, experience and knowledge. But just because you wouldn’t ask your attorney for “Oh, one more thing,” that’s no reason not to ask your web programmer or graphic designer to sweeten the pot.

6. Assume you got yourself a Jack-of-all-Trades. Web design? Web development? Web optimization? They’re all the same – web stuff. Save a few bucks by expecting that your highly specialized professional does a little homework and goes the whole 9 yards for you.

7. Expect a freelancer to be your 24/7 Employee. If they value sleep, they can go work a “9 to 5” job, eh? Good thinking. Ditto for Saturday afternoon fire drills. If you really, really want to drive your freelancer mad, make a habit of disturbing their sleep patterns and home life.

By avoiding these 7 “worst practices”, you’re well on your way to building a great working relationship and getting great work done.

Expanding Into Asia? Here’s Priceless Advice From Asia 2014 Author Derek Sivers.

Elance was excited to chat with Derek Sivers, author of the popular new entrepreneur’s guide Asia 2014. It’s the go-to guide for anyone looking to streamline entry into today’s lucrative Asian countries, from China and India to Japan and Korea. It’s available as one single eBook covering 16 Asian nations, or in individual eBooks by country. Here are some highlights from our discussion.

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1. What’s the single-most important thing an entrepreneur should know before entering the Asian market?

Answer:  You can't just assume that your great American idea is going to be a great idea anywhere.

There's almost no e-commerce in high-tech Singapore because shopping is a very social group activity that people do with friends in malls.  To suggest that someone should shop while online at home is like suggesting that they should also drink at home, alone, so that they don't need to go out to bars anymore.

Even some core concepts - like "Do It Yourself" - have negative instead of positive connotations here.  In most cultures in Asia, you show your status by *not* doing something yourself - by having someone do it for you.  So many of these businesses and apps that help you cut out the middleman and do things yourself are not as welcome here.

 

2. What’s the most surprising thing you learned about doing business in Asia in general, and in any one country in particular?

Answer:  You think that because everyone uses English as the common language of business that we are all speaking the same language.  But take a word like "quality".

In America, "quality" means it works.  It's well-built and it will last.

But in Korea, "quality" means it is brand new.  Don't try to sell something as timeless.

In Japan, "quality" means it has no defects.  It's perfect in every way.

And in China, "quality" means it gives status.  Doesn't need to be perfect or even well-built.  If it raises the owner's status, it's quality.

You can see how if you're pitching your services or product in these places, the cultural context changes everything.

 

3. All things considered, what Asian country is the easiest to get started in? And which is the most difficult?

Answer:  Singapore is the easiest, by far.  The whole country and government is optimized for business.  It was basically founded for that sole purpose.

Myanmar is the hardest.  It was closed to business until just a couple years ago.  It's slowly opening, but the opposite of optimized.

 

4. Should a startup entering Asia take a different approach than a more established business?

Answer: In America, for example, it's often cool to be the small cool underdog.  Think Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, acting like they're much smaller than they are.Derek Sivers

In Asia, it's probably best to act as big and professional as you can.

 

5. Looking at a crystal ball, what business changes do you foresee happening in Asian in the next year? Five years? Twenty years?

Answer:  Check out Hans Rosling's TED talk, called "Asia's Rise - How and When". 

Next one year or five years?  Everything is generally growing, but who knows what flood or election might throw things askew here or there.

Next twenty years?  Imagine what'll happen when the billions of people across Asia are all living at the same middle-class quality of life that Europeans or Americans are now.  Amazing.

 

6. What online freelance skills did you tap into during the project?

Answer:  Elance is my everything!

I needed to hire 48 business researchers from these 16 countries.  I found them all on Elance.

The researchers sent me audio files for over a hundred recorded interviews with experts.  I found all my transcribers on Elance.

I needed 16 writers - one per book - to turn all that raw research into well-written essays.  Elance saved the day.

Finally, 16 editors to edit the 16 books.  Again, Elance, Elance, Elance.  I love it. (Editor’s note: Blush)

 

7. Do you have any tips for others, on how to best use Elancers?

Answer:  The biggest lesson learned this year was to make weekly milestones part of the job description.

Last year (for the 2013 Edition ) I hired researchers to answer 200 questions by some date, two months in the future.  They all seemed great, at first, but when it got close to the deadline, many had hardly begun the work.  Of course those people flaked and disappeared, and that work never got done.

This year I made it clear that instead of defining the project as "200 answers in 8 weeks" they had to agree to "25 answers per week for 8 weeks - preferably 5 per day, 5 days a week".  Huge difference!

Now if someone didn't get me at least 20 answers by that first week, I fired them by the end of that week.  (After much communication, and many warnings, of course.)  This was better for all of us, actually.  It gave me time to hire someone else in that place, who now had to do 200 answers in 7 weeks.  And it let the worker go off and do something else, since this clearly wasn't a good fit for them.  It saves so much anguish and guilt.

I highly recommend taking this approach for anything you're working on.  Break it into weekly deliverables, and make it clear that the job definition is to meet those weekly goals.  If the weekly goals aren't met, they've forfeited the job.  Of course make sure this is agreed upon, up-front, before hiring.  They really have to state it back to you that they completely agree to working this way.  It's very unusual to require this, so you really can't assume it's understood.

 

8. At 4,500 pages (Editor’s note: 3 times longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace), Asia 2014 was a massive undertaking. What inspired you to create this massive and insightful series?

Answer:  Each of the 16 books has the same 200 questions asked of each country.  So I always planned that someday I'd have a way to look at it per-question, comparing each country's answer to that question.

It was hardly any extra work to get my database to output the 200 questions and answers in this alternate format, showing each country's answer after one question.  But when I saw that the final PDF was 4,445 pages long, I had to laugh out loud.  It seems so ridiculous, but really it's just another PDF/ePub/Mobi file, still the same file size as any average e-book, since I don't have any pictures.

I love that it would be out of the question if in paper form, but as an e-book, why not?

It's definitely the most thorough guide ever made to comparing countries for business.

 

9. What’s next? Any plans for upcoming projects?

Answer:  When starting the first edition in 2013, I had to acknowledge that the first year they'd be pretty bad, the second year they'd be pretty good, the third year they'd be really good, and hopefully by the fourth and fifth year they'll be great or even amazing.

This is the second year, now.  They're pretty good. I’ll keep making them better.

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About Derek Sivers:

Derek Sivers created CD Baby in 1998, which became the largest seller of independent music online (with $100M in sales for 150,000 musicians). In 2008 Derek sold CD Baby for $22 million and moved to Singapore to start his new company. He is “Entrepreneur In Residence” at INSEAD Business School. In 2011, he published a book which shot to #1 on all of its Amazon categories. He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with over 5 million views of his talks, and 275,000 Twitter followers. More about Derek at sivers.org

Starting A Startup On The Side? Here Are 5 Costly Mistakes To Avoid.

If you’re working the 9-to-5 while also working on your own startup, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that over 7 million Americans hold more than one job – looking to earn more money and put their full skills to use (read: doing what they really want to do in life). Fortunately best-selling author Kimberly Palmer has some sage advice on things to avoid when starting a startup on the side:

1. Waiting until you’re “ready” to launch.

Many successful entrepreneurs begin their startups almost by accident; a friend asked them for a favor, and suddenly they were in the floral business, running a social marketing consultancy, or creating the next computer security solution. Instead of first building a Facebook page or stocking up on inventory, they said “yes” to the opportunity in front of them, and their side-gigs grew from there.

2. Letting the first failure stop your progress.

Almost all established entrepreneurs experienced some kind of setback early on, and many still experience occasional failures: a pitch gets rejected, a client gives negative feedback, or a new digital product flops. “But they keep going,” Palmer stresses, “because they know that one rejection doesn’t mean their contributions are worthless. Instead, they take it as proof that they are trying something new and taking risks, some of which are bound to fail.”

3. Thinking you’re earning too little to make a difference.

Many owners of startups make what seems like peanuts: $100 to $200 a month, or just a few thousand dollars a year. Over time, however, that money adds up—$3,000 a year equals around $40,000 after ten years if it’s in an account earning 5 percent interest. Plus, it represents new promise and potential in the event of a layoff. “An income of $200 a month, earned from working a few hours a week, can often be scaled up dramatically if time allows,” Palmer points out.

4. Overinvesting in start-up costs.

It’s easy to plow savings into a startup before it’s even launched: a beautiful website, a professional marketing plan, new certifications. But before investing a cent, successful entrepreneurs often look for ways to bring in revenue, while simultaneously testing the market. That might mean offering nutrition consulting services before setting up a new website, or selling an e-book through an e-commerce channel before printing paperback versions.

5. Working too hard for too little.

When startups are first starting out, they sometimes make the mistake of undercharging for their services, or setting up a business model that would require a 100-hour-a-week schedule to earn a living wage. A classic example is selling a handcrafted website design for the same price as a templated online one. “Simply charging more for products and services can signal quality to potential buyers,” Palmer observes. “Testing the market to see what it can bear, and checking out competitors’ prices, can help entrepreneurs avoid starting too low.”

For more insights from Kimberly get her new book, The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life (if you need added incentive, it also includes a Foreword by Elance CEO Fabio Rosati). When she’s not writing best-selling books, Kimberly is a Senior Money Editor at U.S. News & World Reports and discusses money matter on NBC’s Today Show, CNBC, CNN and local television and radio shows across the country.

 

5 Tips For Businesses Looking To Survive The Holiday Madness.

Just switch on the old 50” flatscreen HDTV, or drop by the local mall, and you’ll see that the holiday season is just around the corner. Actually no -- it’s here in full force, like a howling blizzard. And for most businesses this means two things: Stress levels go up, Up, UP and productivity goes DOWN, Down, down. Not a good combination for you or your business.

As year-end deadlines loom, you and your team are unfortunately facing an increasing number of distractions. This includes everything from holiday parties and Cyber Monday shopping deals ($400 for a 55” flatscreen HDTV!) to inclement weather and runny noses. Gesundheit!

But if you plan correctly, the holidays don’t have to be nerve-wracking and fruitless. In fact it’s your opportunity to gain ground as your competition spins their wheels (sometimes literally) in the holiday slowdown. Here’s some food for thought on how to make it a joyful and prosperous holiday season.

1. Despite the c-c-c-cold air, don’t forget to breathe.

Yes it’s going to be hectic, bordering on frantic. You have so much left to accomplish and so little time – all the more reason to relax and stay positive. Take a quick 15 minute break now and again to clear your mind. Heck, even reward yourself with some fruitcake or a cup of eggnog.

2. Jot down your holiday Wish List, and stick to it.

Setting goals is paramount to a successful holiday season. Decide what really needs to be accomplished and focus on that handful of projects. Whether it’s sprucing up the website or bringing added cheer to your mobile app, keep your eye on the prize. Don’t spread yourself too thin and get left out in the cold.

3. Give yourself a holiday bonus: Do what you love doing.

Do you remember why you got into this line of work in the first place? Think back, and recall what it is you love about your career. Then do that job and little else from now through the end of the year. If you love writing code, write code. If marketing is your bag, market. Let others tackle the rest. Focus on the fun.

4. Bake something amazing for the holidays.

Now that you’re focusing, it’s time to move ahead with that awesome idea that’s been baking in your head for who knows how long. Delegate the day-to-day operations to others and concentrate on that game-changing idea that will take your business to the next level. Shine like the North Star and amaze the world!

5. Hire talented elves with really specialized skills.

Try as you might, you can’t do it all by yourself. Fortunately, a world of skilled helpers are ready to lend a hand. Post your job and hire freelancers ready to tackle your important end-of-year projects. You’ll be glad to know that people outside your snow globe are able to work at a moment’s notice (yes, even on major holidays). 

Remember, ‘tis the season to be jolly and prosperous. So have fun, enjoy the holidays and get some great projects crossed off your Wish List. Finish 2013 on an incredible note and set the stage for an amazing 2014.

 

Five Tips For Hiring Your Next Freelancer Faster.

Faster is cool. Faster is in fashion. Faster is the talk of the town.

Tips For Faster Hiring

Faster is what we all shoot for (although when browsing YouTube, notice that most people shouldn’t go faster when strapped to wheels – ouch!).

But in the business world, faster is better. Period. That’s why we want to help you reach your hiring goals faster. Here are some tips on reducing the time it takes to get your next project started.

1. Send Out Job Invitations.

Posting your job is a great way to get the ball rolling, but you don’t have to stop there. Take a few extra minutes to invite qualified freelancers to submit their proposals.

How to find them? A great place to start is with our recommended freelancers. Thanks to some number-crunching we do behind the scenes, during your posting you’ll see next steps for viewing freelancers that match your needs. 

You can also use the Elance search bar to find qualified freelancers on your own. Just type in the job title or skill needed (be sure to toggle to “Freelancers”). On the left side of your results page, you can also narrow results by choosing from a host of options – from Work Types and Tested Skills to Location, Hourly Rate and more.

2. Use Multiple Paths to Interview Your Candidates.

The Elance Private Message Board (our email tool) gives you an efficient way to correspond with freelancers. However, if you want to more-quickly get an idea for the job a person can do, there’s no substitute for direct human contact.

If the freelancer agrees, you can Skype them to ask real-time questions and even host a quick video conference (through Elance) with the candidate.

When you communicate openly, you get a better idea (sooner) of what the candidate can do and how they will approach your project. You can also use your project Workroom to document key decisions.

3. Invite Freelancers From Our Pre-Screened Elance Groups.

Elance Groups are where you’ll find pre-qualified candidates en mass, each with specific skills.

For example, if you’re looking for freelancers to tackle a mobile application job, invite members of our iPhone Development Experts group or Android Development Experts group. We have a world of Groups (with more being added often), from technical and creative skills to attorneys, architects, CPAs and more. It’s an A-to-Z in skillsets (literally, from Adobe Flash Developers to Zoho Creator Experts).

Elance Groups are a great way to cut-to-the-chase and find cutting-edge professionals.

4. Open an Hourly Job.

Hourly jobs have a distinct advantage over Fixed Price jobs when it comes to ramp-up time.

When you have a complex job or long-term project and aren’t quite ready to nail-down all the details, you can simply open an Hourly job and start working in minutes. You can still use milestones to create check points for the job, and modify the hours later if you want to keep it as an on-going relationship.

When an ideal candidate jumps off the page at you, and is ready to start working, just set up an Hourly project and get up-and-running that day.

5. Quickly Test-Out 2 or 3 Top Candidates.

Another tactic that many of our successful customers use to speed up their decision making is to test-out 2 or 3 online freelancers.

When you find multiple candidates that look great (and you can’t quickly decide on one single person), narrow your selection to 3 candidates. Set up an hourly job and give them each, for example, a 2 hour job. Chances are a brief project like this will give you a good idea of which person is right for the long-haul.

Then simply thank the others for their hard work, and ramp-up full throttle with the winner.

Does This Help? We Hope So.

That’s a lot of information to absorb, but reading a few insightful hints can save you considerable time when you’re hiring your next freelancer. Time well invested. Now post your job and put some of these tips to work for you.

A Tip Of Our Cap To Military Personnel and Veterans.

Here in America today is Veteran’s Day, celebrated from coast to coast with parades and other emotional congregations.

But far from limited to merely in the U.S., “Veteran’s Day” is celebrated globally (with different names on different days and in different ways). But in all locations each holiday has a similar ring to it: Thanking military personal for serving the people. And an amazing job the world’s military is doing in this regard.

A case in point is the global military personnel in the Philippines, now helping those in need as the country tries to cope with the devastation left in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan. It’s a tough road to hoe and the world’s military has always tackled the job with courage and compassion.

And as their time in uniform winds down and they leave the military, here at Elance we’re finding more and more that military personnel are turning to a life of entrepreneurism. From working freelance jobs to starting their own businesses, veterans are finding that Elance is a great career option.

We’re proud to note that freelancing has always been a positive job path for military veterans, who here in the U.S. have traditionally had a higher unemployment rate than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Static’s recent release, military veterans between the ages of 18-24 have a 20.4% unemployment rate. That’s more than 5% higher than others in the same category. Also of note is that military personnel often have difficulty adjusting from the public to private sector. A recent survey by the Center for a New American Security (CNAC) found that 60% of veterans reported that translating their military service into the civilian market was difficult.

This seems odd, since veterans have such extreme skills garnered for their military service – from leadership to technical adeptness. Here at Elance we’re proud of the many veterans who freelance in our marketplace and we invite you to seek them out for projects when you hire freelancers. They’ll often mention their military experience in resumes and when discussing work experience. Look for them on your next project. And be sure to thank them for making the world a better and safer place for us all.

5 Reasons The Government Needs to Start Acknowledging Freelancers.

Elance Vice President of Operations Elizabeth Tse recently contributed the following article to the Huffington Post. To view the original article, visit the Huffington Post Blog.

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Though the monthly employment report is widely considered to contain the most significant economic data the government publishes, the payrolls report is missing an important, growing segment of the labor market: independent freelance workers.

Nearly one of every three American workers is a freelancer or fractional worker. These 42 million individuals are designing our nation's logos, landscaping its yards, programming its computer algorithms and walking its restless dogs. But while they contribute to our GDP just as full-time employees do these workers have been overlooked by the federal government's statisticians.

Why should the BLS bother with freelancers? Here are five reasons that tracking and reporting their numbers can lead to positive action and genuine change throughout the country.

1) We need data that accurately reflects our era.

BLS methodology is behind the times. The agency continues to dust off worker surveys originally administered under Franklin D. Roosevelt--surveys that contain conspicuously dated questions and misleading prompts such as "did you work last week?". As Sara Horowitz, founder and executive director of Freelancers Union, recently pointed out in an interview for PBS, "There's a whole workforce out there that doesn't fit easily into that box. For many freelancers, full-time employment is really a series of short-term gigs and projects."

With 40 percent of all U.S. workers expected to be freelancers by 2020, it's clear that the BLS needs to break free of the assumption that the 40-hour workweek is the be-all, end-all of employment. Our workforce data should be capturing the cyclical trends that often impact freelancers, feast sometimes closely following famine for many.

2) We need a definition of livelihood that reflects our era.

Millennials make up over a third of our domestic workforce, and many are finding that a 9 to 5 employment culture doesn't jibe with their lifestyle. These young professionals are striking out on their own, setting their own hours and pay rates, and promoting their skills with entrepreneurial zeal. A recent Millennial Branding poll found that 45% of Millennials value flexibility over pay.

Freelance opportunities, of course, can often provide the best of both worlds -- but we won't know if Millennials and other groups are balancing their livelihoods and their ideals until we start asking them. By updating its surveys, the BLS can start to delve into the values that are driving these massive labor market shifts.

3) The economic growth freelancers have led could inspire much-needed confidence in the U.S. economy.

Total freelancer earnings have increased 69% in the last year for U.S.-based workers, according to Elance's recently released Employment Report for September 2013. Hourly wages climbed 5%--which is ten times more than the national average as quoted by the BLS. Given the immense influence that the monthly BLS jobs report has on economists and investors, it's not much of a stretch to say that more inclusive numbers could be more encouraging numbers.

4) We need to promote the opportunity that the freelance market represents to workers.

Over 50,000 new freelance jobs were created in the last month, according to Elance's September Employment Report. None of them were counted in the BLS report released on Tuesday.

Though it's not the government's fashion to partner with the private sector in compiling economic data, if the BLS were to join with online job marketplaces to regularly measure freelance employment, it would foster more respect and visibility for the independent workforce. This could encourage more job seekers to find opportunity by exploring freelancing. In fact, some of the biggest increases in freelance hiring are currently occurring in states with high unemployment rates. The rate of freelancing hiring in Nevada, for example, which has the highest state unemployment rate in the country, has more than doubled over the last year.

5) Recognizing freelancers will encourage entrepreneurial attitudes among American workers and allow them to take more control over their professional lives.

There's a strong bias toward W-2 form-reported labor in the U.S. that runs all the way up to Capitol Hill, which left over 800,000 civil servants furloughed without pay during the government shutdown. The powerlessness of the federal employees provided an apt illustration of how traditional employers don't always prioritize their workers' best interests. When a government or company temporarily closes its doors for whatever reason, the employees are left to fend for themselves.

If the BLS were to acknowledge the freelance market, it would be subtly promoting a rising trend toward worker independence. The new world of work rewards entrepreneurial thinking. Quantifying the growing success that freelancers are enjoying will show that earning and spending through fiscal and policy-making crises is possible -- especially for workers who have control over their careers.

Many people across the country eagerly anticipate the BLS jobs data every month. Investors view them as a gauge of economic performance; lawmakers look to these numbers for policy guidance; and citizens find encouragement or disappointment in the employment opportunities they tally.

A more accurate jobs report, one that includes freelancers, and that truly reflects the values of today's workforce, could positively influence millions of Americans. It could inform more educated economic decisions, encourage more workers to view themselves as entrepreneurs, and provide a much more nuanced snapshot of the state of labor in the U.S. By taking steps to recognize and promote these opportunities, the federal government can provide a fuller view of our nation's employment picture.

To view the original article by Elizabeth Tse, visit the Huffington Post Blog.

15 Questions To Ask Yourself, To Make Sure Your Startup Is Bulletproof.

When we’re on the road attending events (or hosting meetups here in our Mountain View headquarters), entrepreneurs often ask the Elance team for advice on how to grow their startups. While we love offering guidance to those we meet, unfortunately we can’t speak first hand to all of you. However, our Startup Toolkit is a great resource for similar tips and insights. Visit the site at every stage of your development and you’ll find plenty of valuable information, such as the article below.

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While we all love to applaud great ideas, the simple fact is that most startups are successful not because their idea is so off-the-charts incredible. Instead, what makes startups a success is how they execute the idea.Startup Toolkit

There may be others in your space already doing what your startup intends to do. No problem. As long as you’re breaking new ground on how to bring the idea to life, you’re well on the way to having a prosperous business.

So whether you’re the first to market or the first to first to give the market something new to cheer about, here are 15 questions to ask yourself, insuring that your startup idea is bullet-proof.

1. Are you totally passionate about the idea?

2. Is your idea simple and easy to explain to others?

3. Is your idea truly a problem solver?

4. Is there a huge number of people who have this problem?

5. Is the general market ready to move in this direction?

6. Can you deliver something unique that your competition isn’t yet offering?

7. Is your idea defendable, once others see its value?

8. Is there a way to get your idea to market quickly, letting you “perfect” it down the road?

9. Are your customers easy to identify and single out?

10. Do you have a sure-fire way to inform potential customers about your idea?

11. Do you have access to top talent needed to bring your idea to life?

12. Is there a proven revenue stream for executing your idea?

13. Will you have access to funds to keep moving from step to step?

14. Is this idea worth putting in 15 hour days to work on, 7 days a week?

15. Are you open to pivoting, tweaking your idea when needed?

Those are a lot of questions, eh? But successful startups need to cover all the bases, and if your idea is bullet-proof then you’ll answer “yes” to most of these questions if not all. Then the only thing that’s stopping you from success is starting your startup, so get busy and build your business now before someone else does.

Industry-Leading Payment Protection = Peace of Mind.

As promised, Elance Senior Director of Trust & Safety Jeff Chen will be posting on our blog regularly to help keep you up-to-date on our Trust and Safety programs. Here are his thoughts on Elance’s exclusive Payment Protection programs.

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Industry-Leading Payment Protection = Peace of Mind.

Top freelancers and clients ask for (and come to expect) one important thing: An honest day’s work leading to an honest day’s pay. And we have that covered with our unmatched payment protection programs.

Yet, when we talk to people, some 60% of Elancers aren’t even aware of the protection they have available through Elance Escrow Payment Protection and Work ViewTM Payment Protection.

So we thought this might be a good time to give you a quick overview of your coverage. Here’s a brief summary, and for more information visit our help page on payment protection or watch quick videos at Elance University.

Only Elance offers payment protection on ALL jobs – both hourly and fixed priced.

Elance continues to be the world’s most trusted online workplace. One reason for this is because we’re the only platform with payment protection on ALL jobs, hourly and fixed price, for BOTH freelancers and clients. This is why great clients and freelancers choose Elance, as you can always count on great work and timely payment.

1. For hourly jobs, your coverage includes Work View™ Payment Protection.

Whether you’re a freelancer or a client, Elance protects you on hourly jobs. It just takes three simple steps:

The result is peace of mind for both parties. Elance’s Work ViewTM Payment Protection guarantees payment for hours freelancers have agreed to with their clients (and have documented using Elance’s Tracker tool). Plus it helps ensure clients pay freelancers only for the time spent on their jobs. This happens by viewing real screenshots of their billed time in weekly timesheets.

2. For fixed priced jobs, your coverage includes Elance Escrow Payment Protection.

Again, for freelancers and clients who work on fixed priced jobs, your payment protection happens with 3 simple steps:

Elance’s Work ViewTM and Escrow Payment Protection programs let you sleep well at night.

We’re proud to offer industry-leading payment protection to all freelancers and clients, for all jobs. This exclusive coverage is just another way we’re ensuring that Elance is the world’s most-trusted online workplace.

Learn more in our Help Center or with Elance University videos, and thanks for being part of the community that Works Differently™ and works with confidence.

 

How You Can Compete With Any Business For Top Talent.

Elance CEO Fabio Rosati is a regular contributor to the American Express OPEN Forum, the financial giant’s online site powering small business success. Below is a recent column from Fabio discussing how companies are no longer limited by their size. See the original post here.

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As the referee says before players take the field, “May the best team win.”

In the business world, however, the “best team” has traditionally been at companies with the deeper pockets, most-recognizable brand and best hiring location. Although small businesses frequently have better ideas and more inspired leadership, they’re often hamstrung by their inability to find the skilled talent needed to pull off the upset.

Fortunately, a change is afoot in today’s workforce. Growing at twice the rate of traditional employees, America’s freelancers, consultants and temps now make up to 25% of the workforce. Armed with a laptop and web connection, the 21st century workforce can connect with businesses around the corner and across the globe with a few keystrokes, lending their skills as needed.

Small businesses can take advantage of this game-changing shift to out-maneuver the big boys. Any small business can go online and instantly gain access to a much bigger talent pool - from designers to coders and app developers, creative writers and editors, researchers and social media marketers, customer service agents, data analysts and myriads of other specializations.

This new landscape is also the result of changes in lifestyle. Just a generation ago a typical employee could land a job right out of college with a large company, and reasonably expect to stay there for his or her entire career. Contrast that with this startling statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: As of 2010, the average time an American worker will stay at any job has plummeted to less than four and a half years.

Embracing the new workforce is critical for any business competing for talent. It’s also a home run for businesses in remote locations or areas with a struggling local economy, as they can now find talent anywhere.

When accessing talent online, the playing field is more level: Xan Hood, Founder of the outdoor clothing company Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. is a case in point. “I started with $300 and a dream,” said Xan. He then went on to build and grow his popular outfitter company almost exclusively by hiring people online. “I was able to build my company by building an entire team virtually,” he says.

Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. is just one of thousands of small businesses now discovering how to compete better by extending their workforces online. The result is a true meritocracy when the best entrepreneur wins the race to talent, regardless of location, size or stock price.


 

Note: Portions of this article originally appeared on American Express OPEN Forum.

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