Using Freelancers in a Small Business: The Pros and Cons
One of the ways that many small businesses can be flexible when it comes to spending is by relying on freelancers for some tasks.
Operating any small business naturally means keeping a tight rein on costs. Most small business owners minimize expenditures by focusing spending on those elements that make a difference to customer service. In other words, they focus on the customer’s experience and the quality of their product or service.
Companies that make sure their cost structure is flexible are better able to cope with a fall in business, making them more likely to survive an economic downturn. Over the last decade many startups have only been able to start up by building a strong network of freelancers that they can rely on to get a job done.
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Companies such as the online personal finance experts Solution Loans use freelancers to provide support in a number of key business areas. Some of these include digital marketing, content creation and front- and back-end web development. One advantage of this approach is that it provides resource and cost flexibility. But it also has some disadvantages, such as:
- Freelancers do not dedicate 100% of their time to one company.
- Freelancers may not be as committed to the company because they are not a permanent employee. This could affect the quality of work they perform.
- The hourly rate of freelancers may be higher than for a permanent employee doing the same job.
And the Pros
Equally, there are advantages to using freelancers. For instance, there may be role that does not require a full-time worker. Or there could be a mix of tasks for which a single individual is unlikely to have all the skills. When a company can only afford the equivalent of a single salary, they can employ several freelancers on a part-time basis (or task basis).
Moreover, they can do so more cost effectively than employing several permanent but part-time employees. That’s because freelancers do not come with the associated costs of the benefits that regular employees require. Think of expenses such as healthcare and pensions, office space and equipment, and others.
Of course, using freelancers also allows a company to use them only when they need them. Further, the company only pays for the services the freelancer provides. In addition, if the quality of work of the freelancer is not up to scratch, it is much easier to cease working with them. Business owners are always free to move on and find another, better qualified or more experienced person to provide the service in the future
A Road Map Toward Workability
So, the challenge for any small business is to address the potential pitfalls, while at the same time trying to retain the benefits brought about by the flexibility of using freelancers. Here’s what hiring managers at Solution Loans do to achieve the right balance:
- They clearly specify all tasks that will be done by a freelancer before they begin interviewing. This helps to ensure that freelancers who are chosen are a good fit for the roles.
- They take the time they need to find the people who are a good match for the role in terms of experience and skills. This means they don’t wait until a task is urgent before they look to get it done.
- They provide freelancers with a clear description of the work that needs to be completed, once the freelancer has been engaged.
- They always talk to freelancers in person before hiring, preferably face-to-face, although phone or video calls work well, too. This builds a level of trust on both sides. The business will be confident that the work will be done well, and the freelancer will be confident that they will be paid promptly for their work.
- They hold regular status and update meetings to make sure the work is on target to meet any deadlines.
Not all working relationships can be 100% successful. Moreover, this can be true just as much for the relationship between business owner and a permanent employee as it can for a freelancer. However, business owners can work proactively to find the right people in the first instance. Thereafter, they can build a good, trusting relationship. This strategy is very effective in ensuring that a company gets the best out of the people it works with.
Although some news reports suggest freelance work is insecure, there are many instances where freelancers have worked with companies for nearly 10 years. Therefore, there must be some benefit to both sides in situations such as these.
Business plans may not always work out as expected, but that’s where flexibility comes into play. Suppose a freelancer doesn’t perform the tasks set for them to the expected standard. Then it is simple to replace them with another person. There can also be periods where there is less work available than expected. However, if both freelancer and business owner have established a good working relationship, then it is possible to pause further work until business picks up again.
Freelancers have been a significant driver of business success in the past decade. Moreover, they are likely to continue being so for the foreseeable future. A small business which manages them well will likely come out ahead.