Startups often find themselves in situations where they need talent or skills that they don’t have in-house – but hey, it’s not practical to hire full-time employees whenever you need a new skill set, right? Instead, temporary resources emerge as the more astute choice! They’re like the superhero’s sidekicks in the world of business.

Temporary resources are the perfect fit for businesses that want to scale their businesses rapidly and efficiently. They offer so many advantages that align with the dynamic and evolving nature of startups:

  • Flexibility is their middle name: Tap into niche talent pools and access professionals with the exact skills required for specific projects or tasks.
  • Fresh blood: At a stage when you may have a very small core team, it’s an added bonus to get new perspectives, ideas, and creativity into the company.
  • Scaling made easy: It’s easier to get more hands-on deck whenever needed to meet increasing workloads without overburdening the core team.

This agility can help you manage costs effectively and adapt to changing markets quickly in order to scale faster. And here’s the best part, engaging temporary workers can also serve as a pretty neat talent pipeline for potential full-time hires!

Types of Temporary Workers for your startup

There are different types of temporary worker options available to Canadian startups, and each of them bring their unique A-game to meet your specific needs. In this blog, we’ll take you through the 4 most common types of temporary resources you can leverage, effective hiring strategies for each, and budgeting tips:

1. Co-op Students:

Co-op programs are very popular in Canadian universities and colleges! Cooperative Education is a course structure where the student alternates between study and paid practical work experience in their chosen field. It is mandatory for them to put in a certain number of months in order to complete their degree, making them a fantastic resource for businesses! 

But, hold up, it’s important to note that co-op students are not really the same as interns; co-op student workers are in it for the long haul; they invest a significant amount of time in your organization, months at a time in fact, University of Waterloo, right here in Ontario, has the largest co-op program in the world requiring 24 months of work experience during the course. 

Co-ops expect to contribute to your organization long term, expect to get paid a fair wage, and can be given responsibilities different from that of an intern that may be working with you only a few hours a week.


How to hire a Co-op student for your startup

Startups can tap into universities with co-op programs that are related to their industry to get access to a talent pool that’s eager to gain experience. There are currently at least 80 schools with a co-op program in Canada.

As the employer, you can set certain requirements for preferred students, like specialization of their study, minimum GPA, skillset, etc. Each university has its respective departments that help place students; they can hook you up by advertising your job posting, sending you relevant resumes, and arranging interviews with students.

Here are more universities in Ontario that have co-op programs

You can view the full list of universities with co-op programs in Ontario here.

How to budget for a co-op

Co-op students are paid workers; their hourly wages start at a minimum wage of C$15 – C$16.55 at the beginning of their term. As they progress through their program of study, they can be entitled to an increase in their wages going up to C$50- 60 per hour.

2. Interns:

Internship programs are a very effective way to bring in temporary resources. They generally spend a few hours a week or a few weeks a day at an organization – they’re the perfect backup squad to call on to support existing teams like marketing, operations, design or development. 

Getting interns in, especially during peak seasonal workloads or during the holiday season, is an ideal way to augment your workforce. They can give you a hand by helping to meet deadlines, completing tasks, or taking on job profiles like customer service, virtual assistants, market research or social media.

How to hire Interns for your startup

You can design summer internships, virtual internships or hybrid internships to entice students to lend their time to you. 

Just make sure you lay out clear expectations and an accountability system for your intern to make the most of their time dedicated to your business.

To find interns for your startup, look up universities, and career centres or list your requirements on online platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed or TalentEgg.

How to budget for an intern

In Ontario, unpaid internships are illegal under the Employment Standard Acts. However, federally, it is not mandatory to pay ‘student interns’. Anyone who may be hired for an ‘academic internship’ is not protected by the law; some of the identifiers of an academic internship include: 

  • the individual is receiving academic credit
  • the position is providing the training required for a specific profession
  • or the internship fulfils the six requirements that classify an individual as a “trainee.”

The University of Toronto’s student newspaper, The Varsity, sheds more light on it here.

However, if the intern is being trained by their employer in a skill that other employees in the organization use, then they are entitled to rights like being paid a minimum wage (as of October 1, 2023, the Ontario minimum wage is C$16.55), receiving overtime pay, and being limited to a maximum of 48 hours of labour per week.

In general, unpaid internships are a no-go. It is good practice to offer a stipend, a monthly allowance, and/or reimbursements for expenses to appeal to the right quality of students.

3. Freelancers:

Source: Upwork

Opting for freelancers is a lean and efficient approach to acquiring missing skill sets and tackling pressing tasks without breaking the bank! 

Unlike hiring full-time employees, which can be a hassle and a costly affair, freelancers are perfect for project-based needs or specific skills you don’t necessarily need to keep in-house. Freelancers are flexible and already have domain knowledge – so you don’t need to waste time teaching them the reigns. 

According to Upwork, some of the most in-demand independent talent as of 2023 include Full Stack Development, SEO, Web Design, Social Media Marketing, Email and Chat Support, and Accounting.

Another study by Fiverr reveals a whopping 78% of companies plan to rely on freelancers this year (2023) instead of hiring more staff. Plus, thanks to the post-pandemic remote work revolution, freelancing has become a win-win set-up for everyone involved.


How to hire Freelancers for your startup

Online platforms like Guru, Fiverr, FlexJobs,, Workmarket, and Upwork provide access to a huge talent pool of freelancers with expertise in various areas such as graphic design, content creation, web development, and much more. 

But remember, hiring a freelancer is not like a job interview. It’s more of a conversation to get to know each other. Both you, as the startup and them, as the freelancer, are vetting each other to see if you can work together. 

Before you dive into a conversation, ensure you have the project scope, timeline, budget, and preferred process sorted out. According to Freelancer Map, 73% of freelancers decide whether to take on a project based on the required skill set. So, during your first meeting, their goal is to figure out if they’re the right fit for your work.

Below are some useful discussions to have while vetting your freelancer-startup match: 

  • Have you worked with similar clients before?
  • Have you taken on similar projects before – ask to see their previous work.
  • Ask for references or testimonials from their previous clients 
  • What is your process like?
  • How do you prefer to communicate? 
  • Do you have a lead time for new projects?

Once you’re ready to move forward, ensure that you outline a detailed freelancer contract entailing the following:

  • Project scope (tasks + time commitment) 
  • Timeline and due dates for deliverables 
  • Project fees and payment terms 
  • Non-disclosures and non-competes 
  • Pricing for out-of-scope work 
  • Indemnification clauses

How to budget for a freelancer

It’s not common to ask for a ‘free trial’ of a freelancer’s skills, but you can consider paying for their time to test the waters before making the final decision.
Freelancers create their own charges depending on their level of expertise. Generally, they have hourly rates or set charge sheets for different services. According to, the average hourly rate of a freelancer sits at around C$41.72 per hour. But this can vary based on many other factors.

4. Consultants:

Hiring a consultant can be a game-changer of temporary resources, especially for startups with a founder who may be new to the business, or new to an industry or domain. 

For eg, Are you struggling with implementing changing tech trends in your business? Are you craving an outside perspective? Are you unable to figure out why your business is not reaching its goals? Are you working on a time-sensitive project that needs specific expertise? 

Then this might be the right time to leverage a consultant! Consultants bring in a wealth of specialized knowledge from their field, like strategy consultants, e-commerce consultants, financial planning consultants, and technology consultants. They can swoop in to help you identify a problem, course correct, and build a new plan. Plus, their extensive networks and industry insights are also very valuable!

How to hire a Consultant for your startup

LinkedIn and your personal references are a good place to start when looking for a compatible consultant. When you’re evaluating potential consultants, consider things like:

  • Do they have experience working with startups in a similar industry or stage of growth?
  • What specific areas of expertise do they specialize in, and how can they help?
  • What are their methodologies, approach, and frameworks to assess and improve business performance?
  • What is their collaborative style with startup teams and stakeholders?
  • What are their fees and payment structure? Are there any additional costs we should be aware of?
  • Can they provide references from previous startup clients?
  • How do they measure the success of the consulting engagements?
  • What is their availability and expected timeline?

Remember to trust your instincts and choose a consultant who demonstrates a genuine understanding of your business. 

Your consultant agreement should include the following: 

  • Consulting parameters
  • Fee structures
  • Payment schedules
  • Outlined deliverables
  • Established deadlines

How to budget for a Consultant for your startup

Independent consultants value their worth based on their time, expertise, resources available, and bandwidth. They can charge anywhere above $50,000 a year, depending on their experience level. In comparison, larger consulting firms like the Big Four – Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG are in the ranges of $300,000 – $400,000 per consultant per year.

Starting up in Canada?

We are BHive, a startup incubator located in Brampton, Ontario. We offer international startups the tools, resources, and space to establish – and quickly scale – their businesses in Canada and North America. To apply to our Global Entrepreneur Incubation Program, click here!