How do you find good professional help? (Lawyers, Accountants, Graphic Designers, etc)


4

Business accounting and legal work are mundane-but-required tasks for any startup. However, until the company is large enough to hire on dedicated staff for that work, how do you find qualified professionals to outsource the work to? (Other than opening up the yellow pages and calling at random, or asking the business' next door neighbor)...

Outsourcing Legal

asked Oct 16 '09 at 05:02
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Marcus L
21 points

6 Answers


5

I always ask around - whether it's family, friends, or even the business next door. I also go to networking events to try to find contacts.

Once I find a name or two, then I'll schedule an appointment and, if we seem to click, I'll open up with a small project. Maybe a contract review. Or my personal tax returns. Or a logo that's already been designed.

It's simply a trial to show how well they work or don't work. And if they don't, then I repeat the process. Usually, the professional will do an acceptable job (otherwise, I won't pay) so, at the very least, you're only out time.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 05:09
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Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points
  • Find a couple of those businesses-next-door and tune in to their social network at http://www.gigpark.com/ Some professionals do a phenomenal enough job to get testimonials from people you would trust; and that's the kind of professionals that you want to find. (full disclosure: I worked at GigPark) – Tony 8 years ago
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1

As I wrote in another answer, I think the single most important thing is cross-domain communication, i. e.

  • how well does the professional understand what you want?
  • how well do you understand what he / she is doing?

I've found that people who are good at this will spend the time to talk with you about the outline of what you need done, without charging for it and without you making any commitments. At the end of that conversation, you should have a clear idea of what's going to come next, how the complete process will look like, and at least roughly what sort of money you're talking about. You should be able to summarize this and the other person should agree. The professional should be able to paraphrase what it is you want and you should feel understood.

A problem that's often underestimated is that you, not being familiar with the particular domain, will not know exactly what you want or what's good for you. A great professional helps you with that, at no charge, before you hire him / her, and without regard to his / her revenue, like an independent advisor. I know a media agency who regularly spend a man-day or more on free, open-ended consulting to prospective clients. They did my website and CI and I'm totally happy, even though they aren't exactly cheap.

answered Nov 11 '09 at 01:17
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Hanno Fietz
280 points

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I'll reply re lawyers, because that's my profession.

  1. The lawyer needs to have lots of experience working with startups, because they have special needs.
  2. You can look for lawyers who post here at OnStartups.com, though you can find many more on Avvo and LinkedIn - search for questions that are similar to the questions you have.
  3. Search for blogs that discuss legal issues for startups (mine is The High-touch Legal Services Blog ).

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

answered May 27 '10 at 08:09
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Dana Shultz
6,015 points

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See this article for graphics designers in particular. Most of the advice applies elsewhere as well.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 05:44
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Jason
16,241 points

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Here are my top 4 tips for finding a professional -
- Ask for a referral but with people in a similar situation as you. Word of mouth is the best way

  • Ask specifics on what experience stands out for the transaction or service with the professional
Once you find referrals there are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • The Busy ones are the safe ones. The professional that advertises may not be the one you want to retain.
  • Ask questions to the professionals even if you think they are dumb. Because the best professionals know how to treat dumb questions.
  • Ask them the profiles of existing clients and most importantly if they have existing testimonials.
answered Oct 16 '09 at 07:14
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Anup
547 points

0

That's what the internet for.

I've recently used http://www.justanswer.com/ instead of seeing a doctor. Nowadays almost everything is on the web.

There are online proof reading services, health, lots of lots freelance graphic designs sites like Guru, elance or design/logo competition sites.

Basically use the internet for whatever you need, somewhere in someone opened a website and gives online services for whatever you need. Read the reviews, try them out, use them. It's way easier than going out and trying to find some decent contractor (unless you already knew them)

answered Oct 16 '09 at 09:28
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The Dictator
2,305 points
  • There are a lot of transactions and consultations that shouldn't take place on the internet. Medical advice is one of those. – Alex Papadimoulis 8 years ago
  • That's your idea although recently it almost saved my eye. Because an eye expert from USA diagnosed my eye in the middle of night and convinced me to use a medicine ASAP. When I finally see an eye doctor she said getting that medicine was the best thing I've done and I spend £11 for that diagnose. You think like that due to fake circle around medical area. Take a read The undercover economist. It explains why industries such as medical forces lots of regulations even though it's not really that important and protected by law. – The Dictator 8 years ago
  • I'd say that there are many transactions and consultations that *require* the client to employ more scrutiny if they take place on the Internet, but for these transactions and consultations the same scrutiny is generally *very advisable* off the Internet, too. Medical advice is a great example for both these aspects. – Hanno Fietz 8 years ago
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Outsourcing Legal