As the October 2012 financial year drew to a close, online entrepreneur Lee Holden found himself struggling to work out the annual accounts of his retail e-store yourbrandoutlet.co.uk, his first ever e-commerce venture. The e-store, which sells brand-named goods at reasonable prices, was already sinking into a financial quagmire.
“My business partner and I spent many hours trying to do the accounting ourselves,” recalls Lee. “But it was a complete waste of time because we seriously lacked the knowledge and understanding to comply with the legal requirements of the UK business law. We decided that hiring someone to do it for us could potentially save us money in the long run (and our livelihoods!). UK’s strong governance ensures that companies abide by the rules, or else we face very harsh penalties.”
So, Lee and his business partner sought out someone to help them out of the fix they were in. After a number of free consultations, they had an idea of what services an accountant could offer them, as well as the local rates . “They quoted us around £600 to deal with the main accounting for the business over the course of a year.”
Looking for a better—and more cost-effective—alternative, Lee turned to the Internet and discovered a number of marketplaces, including Freelancer.com, the world’s largest. Rather than just picking the first one he saw, he undertook a deliberate process to check each site for (a) legitimacy, (b) the range of skills/people, and (c) the general look and feel of the site.
“Freelancer.com emerged as the clear favorite from this ‘due diligence,’” he shares. “There were a number of accountants who specialize in UK companies.”
For £200, the accountant they hired, Sara Hailes, provided the same service offered by locals and even performed additional work that wasn’t included in the project specifications. “We chose Sara because of her great CV. Most important for our project, she had a vast experience of UK law. She went beyond the extra mile and made sure that all our legal documentation was fully intact. Even more impressive, she called up the HM Revenue & Customs on many occasions to resolve documentation issues.”
He continues, “Without her expertise, we would’ve been in serious trouble. We could’ve filed incorrect legal documents and been penalized with heavy fines—or even faced possible imprisonment.”
Hiring Sara was his first experience with posting projects on Freelancer.com. “I was delighted at how easy it was to set up,” Lee remembers, pleased. “I was able to quickly review current bids—and hide the ones that were clearly not relevant to my project.”
Of all the features of Freelancer.com, he cites the Milestone Payment System as the most impressive. “The system gives me the assurance that the work gets done to my satisfaction before releasing payment. I don’t have to pay someone upfront first, only to lose out due to low quality or not getting the job done.”
The payment system isn’t the only thing he loves. “The Reward System is really addictive. My competitive nature gets fired up and drives me to achieve more,” he reveals with a grin.
Unfortunately, his initial e-commerce business failed and had to close shop permanently; but since then, Lee has used Freelancer.com for his other e-business ventures, both dealing in SEO/Internet Marketing/Web Design: firstpageranking.org.uk and webmonkee.co.uk. “Without hesitation, I keep hiring on Freelancer.com because I know I get more than my money’s worth.”