Hiring Freelance Developers or Outsourcing: Questions to Ask Yourself

9 key questions for any founder to know if hiring freelance developers or outsourcing is the way to go. We recommend other alternatives.

A few months back, I was closing a deal I was super excited for my team to work on. This startup had worked with many other companies to try to hire the right developer for their company. Some developers lasted a month and some didn’t. They even use some hiring platforms but still couldn't find the right person. The company had lost hope, I wanted to show them what Awana could do.


Hiring needs in check

We started on the process to hire, showing them multiple profiles that matched what they were looking for. They came back with more questions for the candidates. They asked for more proofs. I could tell they were scared to hire.

Then, one day I posed to them to figure out if they were actually ready to hire. We all came to find out that they wanted to do more testing on the product.

While I was disappointed we couldn’t help the company hire, I was happy to find out the information quickly and that the company found out why hiring someone wouldn’t be right for them at this point.

This led us to start thinking about a checklist people should consider when hiring for a new role.


Here are 9 questions you should ask yourself before hiring:

  1. Is your vetting process and structure clear enough?
  2. Do you have the job specifications for the role?
  3. Are you in a stage where you are testing a lot of things, not only product wise but maybe internally, in your company structure?
  4. Do you have the budget and market fit?
  5. Do you have a go-to market strategy?
  6. Are you thinking of pausing your product development or want to reiterate your main idea?
  7. Have you achieved ROI or are you close to it?
  8. Is your focus mainly on how to keep your business afloat?
  9. Would you hire or fire someone in the next 2 months?

If you're seeing that hiring a new person, from a cost perspective, it's not going to be beneficial:

  • There is no clear vetting process
  • No job specifications
  • No accomplished ROI
  • No market fit, or a little stability in your company
If multiple boxes are ticked, it's a clear sign to pause and reassess your hiring requirements.


Other alternatives to hiring full-time

The timing of your hiring process is very important. If you're not ready to hire a full-time employee or contractor, there are other options available to you. You could work with a Freelance Technical Lead or a freelance developer, use a dev shop, or hire a part-time developer.
Each of these options offers a few advantages:
  1. Working with freelance developers can be a great option if you don't have a CTO in your team and need someone to help you with a specific project or task.
  2. Devshops can be a good option if you need a team of developers to build your product and you don't want to be also doing Project Manager chores.
  3. Part-time developers can be a good option if you need someone to help you with your day-to-day operations.
The best option for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. However, it's important to remember that you don't always need a full-time hire to get the help that you need.
Even with low-code tools you would need a freelance developer and attention to detail, someone to oversee it, organize it and manage it. A one-time fee will do the trick.
If you're not sure where to start, I recommend reading this blog post on hiring your first developer in 3 steps. This post provides a great overview of the hiring process and will help you to get started on the right foot.
If you're ready to make a decision and are looking to build a team, here's our proven process for effectively working with freelance developers [when putting together a team for first-time founders].


Get some clarity on where to go

It's fundamental to get some clarity so testing things out is a must, like an MVP. For instance in the case of the recent deal we had, they initially thought their product was ready to scale, after we worked with them they saw that they needed to do a little bit more testing in the market. 

If you are thinking about getting started on scaling, double check whether you are ready. Investing in a person to scale your company is not only costly from a monetary standpoint but a time standpoint as well.

Overall hiring is a big decision for any company to make. You don’t want to get caught up where you are hiring to just keep your product going but you also don’t want to prevent your product from scaling because you are too worried. Putting together a roadmap with appropriate testing in place will help figure out when to start hiring.

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Studioroman (2023) Happy Company Employees Joining Parts of Jigsaw Puzzle during Work Meeting or Team Building Activity. Retrieved from https://www.canva.com/photos/MAELszMKRJM/

The Muse. (2022). Hiring Needs: How to Determine When You Need to Hire



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