Business Unusual: Networking & Communication

Katie Hurst:
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to our small business series Business Unusual. My name is Katie Hurst, and I’m the director of communications at Ruby. And today I’m joined by Damien Filiatrault, the CEO of Scalable Path.

Katie Hurst:
Okay. I’m a small business, I’ve determined that outsourcing is a good option for me. I decided I want to work with a platform as opposed to having to go and find the talent myself, and save some of that time. How do I evaluate? There are so many different platforms out there now.

Business Unusual: Networking & Communication

In the last of a three-part series with Damien Filiatrault of Scalable Path, Ruby’s Director of Strategic Communications, Katie Hurst, asks about networking, communication, and how to find the right freelancers for the work.

Damien Filiatrault:
Yeah, there are. And so I think you got to look at what kind of work you want to get done. Are there specialized agencies or marketplaces that focus on this? Ruby does receptionists. Scalable Path is in software development. In the software development world, where I’m living every day, there’s a spectrum, right? And I alluded to this earlier. On one end, you have the super high-end digital agencies. A really great one that comes to mind is Idio. Expensive, right? On the other end, you have Upwork, where you can find any kind of freelancer. And so there’s a wide spectrum in between. I put Scalable Path somewhere in the middle.

Damien Filiatrault:
But if you go with an Upwork, you’re going to have to put in the work. You’re going to have to know what you’re doing. You’re going to have to define the role you’re looking to fill. And you’re going to get lots of applications and have to sift through them and evaluate who is the right fit or who isn’t. And you may not have the time or the expertise to do that.

Damien Filiatrault:
What Scalable Path does is, for a premium, reasonable premium, way less than these digital agencies, we know how to evaluate those people. And so you can come to a specialized marketplace like Scalable Path, and we do all of that sourcing and vetting for you, and then we just propose the people who have made it through our process.

Katie Hurst:
Well, I think it’s kind of interesting because it goes back to that concept you said of, there are things that we automatically outsource. Janitorial, et cetera. So we see value in outsourcing, but it goes from, “I don’t want to pay a full-time employee, so I was considering this salary, but now all of a sudden I want to go all the way to the other end of the spectrum and pay as cheaply as I can for outsourcing,” without really thinking about that in between of what you’re losing if it’s a race to the bottom with price.

Katie Hurst:
There is a support component that you’re not paying for that is there, so you have a customer support team that’s available to you to help you. Similarly, for you guys, you probably answer questions, you spend that time vetting the customers or the contractors to make sure that they’re a value. So there’s things that aren’t considered necessarily and have to really be thought about when you’re outsourcing about, what are those things that are not just transactional that I’m really getting out of this relationship with the company I’m outsourcing through, but also the contractor themselves who I’m working with? Because if you just look at price, you’re only getting a very slim picture.

Damien Filiatrault:
Like you said, like people think, “Oh, I’m not going to hire in-house. I want to outsource. And then I’m going to really go to the other end of the spectrum.” And what I find myself thinking about recently is that these relationships between, even when they’re an outsourced person, it’s still a relationship between a company and a person, and it has to work for both sides. It has to bring value to both, and the rate, or however you structure it, needs to work for the client.

Damien Filiatrault:
But also if you’re driving too hard of a bargain down to these people that are working on your team, even if they’re outsourced, they’re not going to stick with you, right? They’re not going to feel respected. They’re going to look for something better, and you’ll lose them. So if you go too far on the other end of the spectrum, you’re being short-sighted. You’re going to get people who are desperate, or you’re going to get people who aren’t the best at what they do because they’re not going to work in that mode.

Katie Hurst:
Because there’s certainly outsourcers who just look at this as like another project, another job versus outsourcers who are passionate about what they do and want to make sure that your business is getting the best version of that. The best website, the best receptionist service, the best HR service, whatever it is. So that makes a big difference.

Katie Hurst:
And I think we kind of addressed some of the questions that if you’re looking at it, at an outsourcing tool or individuals, that you should be asking, which are kind of what your area of specialty is, how much experience you have in the area. But I’m sure you have some other good questions that should be asked when you’re looking for an outsourcing tool or person.

Damien Filiatrault:
Yeah. We did get into that. Again, my experience is around talent, software talent, marketplaces. I want to know what’s their business model. How are they making money? Is it a fee? Is it a subscription? Are they taking a percentage of the rates? I just want to understand what their model is, so I can see the value. So not all of them are totally transparent. That’s one thing Upwork is. I’ll give them kudos for being rather transparent on.

Damien Filiatrault:
We talked about this a bit before, but what is your vetting process? Are they people that can just sign up and then they’re in your platform, or do you verify? What do you verify with these people? Do you train them? Like you said. And then how long will it take for me to get up and running with someone from your platform? That’s an important question to ask.

Katie Hurst:
Yeah. And I think that that’s true of lots of different platforms. I’ve worked with multiple different outsourcing platforms beyond just software development, beyond Ruby, is the reason you have that need is it’s got to be done. You got to get moving. So that’s a really important one.

Katie Hurst:
And I think asking how the business makes their money is a completely legitimate interest because that will help illustrate some of that, are we dealing with someone who’s just trying to get to the lowest bid to get the dollar, or are we looking at someone who’s really looking at this as a solution for the business? So I think that’s a really good question.

Katie Hurst:
Any final advice for small business owners out there thinking about outsourcing?

Damien Filiatrault:
You’ve tapped my brain. That is it.

Katie Hurst:
Well, it was a lot of really great information. Those five points about really how you evaluate outsourcing were so golden. Thank you so much, Damien. This has been a pleasure. For everybody that tuned in, thank you so much. Be sure to check out more from our small business series Business Unusual.

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