Domaining MBA Monday: Be Very Careful Hiring On oDesk

Domaining MBA MondayAs your Domaining business grows there will most likely come a point where you’ll be ready to exchange some of your hard earned money for time. Doing this means taking some of your day-to-day tasks and finding other people to do them. The day you do this is the day you move from being self-employed, to running a business and it’s also the key to scaling since there’s only one of you.

The problem most Domainers have in this situation is that most have never run a business before so don’t know much about hiring. I am often asked what the hardest part of scaling my business has been and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my biggest challenge is finding great people.

Most people seem to turn to sites like oDesk to find early employees and I’ll tell you that while there are some great people on oDesk, you have to be very careful. Here’s the issue, you want someone to take over a task that you do ever day, but you don’t want to pay very much for it. This is where finding a good balance comes in, underpay and you’ll get low-quality results, overpay and you’ll kill the profit margin of your business.

So the first step is finding a happy medium, however this isn’t the hardest part. The problem is that oDesk is full of scam artists, people that know you’re new at this and take advantage of you. It has happened to me several times and I know many people who have had similar experiences, it goes something like this.

You hire someone on oDesk and for the first two weeks they are on the ball and making it happen. Then you find-out that there was a fire at their house, they didn’t have insurance and their computer was destroyed. Or maybe they have a sick relative and can’t afford to pay the rent all of a sudden and they come to you for help. While these things do happen in life, I can tell you they don’t happen at the frequency you’ll find with oDesk contractors.

What these people are is scam artists. They do good work for you and then find a reason for you to either buy them a new computer or phone, or send money to help their dying grandmother. If they’ve been working with you for years that’s one thing, but if it’s early-into your contract with them, some alarm bells should start ringing. I have learned the hard way after having a new employee’s husband leave her, then get evicted from her house, and then have her Mom die along with her laptop bite the dust all in the same week.

While you may think you’ve hired someone that has just had the perfect storm of bad things happen to them, take a step back and look at what’s really going on. This is the challenge of oDesk.

So what can you do when you’re just starting out? I recommend hiring someone you know, or that one of your friends knows. Family can be good but only if you aren’t concerned about this getting in the way of your relationship. The idea is, when you’re just starting out pick someone you can trust, and someone you can verify is telling you the truth. If your friend’s sister says that her house burned down and her car was totaled it is easy to check with your friend to see if this is true.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust people, or that bad things don’t happen to good people. What I am saying though is that oDesk has a number of con artists on the platform who will pull at your heartstrings, and your wallet. Be very careful hiring on services like this and next time your new contractor’s $2,500 Macbook Pro gets run over by a dump truck, try to figure-out if that’s what really happened, otherwise, you could be at the beginning of a long con.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • John October 22, 2012, 7:13 am

    Have you tried Fiverr or TaskRabbit?

  • Jean Sutherland October 22, 2012, 8:07 am

    I’m an Odesk worker and what you say is definitely correct, but what every employer should do is check that persons portfolio and feedback. Don’t hire people unless they have a proven record and a lot of good comments. That way you’ll avoid the scammers. Good luck.

  • Taylor October 22, 2012, 10:25 am

    I can say I’ve been fairly lucky hiring from oDesk – with just two bad apples out of ~10 hires. However, I always make the job posting invite-only, and then I only reach to contractors who have a loads of hours/ratings/positive feedback. This is what I always advise if somebody is interested in oDesk – find the contractors you want, don’t let the scammers come to you.

    Morgan – I remember you recommending a service that vets hires back in the day. Teamlauncher, maybe? Are they still recommended?


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