How (and Why) to Hire Freelancers for Your Small Business
You can’t do everything in your small business. Unfortunately, you also can’t afford to hire full-time staff..
Freelancers are the ideal solution for new entrepreneurs who aren’t ready to hire in-house staff. They’re also great for established businesses in need of skilled professionals for one-off projects. In terms of finances, they can be a cost-effective solution to staffing needs, especially when considering the hidden costs of hiring employees. However, freelancers do charge higher rates on average, so it’s important to be judicious about when you (actually) need to hire extra help.
When Should You Hire a Freelancer?
You’re burning out working 80-hour weeks. The first years of business ownership aren’t easy, and long hours are often standard. However, working around-the-clock isn’t sustainable for any length of time. To avoid burnout and keep your business running, you need to delegate. Delegating doesn’t just lower your stress — it also gives you more time to focus on developing and growing your business. Of course, managing people can be stressful in its own right. Keep it simple by delegating easy tasks that don’t require much oversight, such as administrative support, data entry, and calendar management; virtual assistants are designed for these catch-all office tasks and easily hired through online job boards.
Your staff doesn’t have the expertise or the time. You won’t have in-house talent for every project. Whether you need a logo designed, a website built, or documents translated, it makes more sense to hire freelancers for one-off projects. Hiring freelancers also gives you access to a larger talent pool. Rather than hiring help locally, you can browse portfolios from professionals around the country to find the best fit. Sometimes, it’s not a lack of ability, but a lack of time. If your staff’s schedule is fully loaded and you need extra hands to meet an important deadline, hiring freelancers is a smart way to meet your temporary labor needs.
How to Hire and Manage Freelancers?
Finding qualified freelancers. Most freelancers aren’t scrolling the standard job boards. In order to find qualified freelancers, you need to go where they are: freelance job boards. In addition to the most well-known freelance sites, you can find industry-specific job boards for writers, designers, and more. Here are some places you can look to get started. Before searching for a freelancer, have a written description of your project, including deliverables and deadlines. This helps you find the right fit and shows freelancers you’re a serious client. To vet freelancers, compare not just their rates, but also their portfolio, work history, and client testimonials.
Tax rules regarding freelancers. Hiring freelancers is simple as far as taxes are concerned. The freelancer needs to complete Form W-9 before beginning work, and the business must file Form 1099-MISC for contractors paid $600 or more. However, it’s important to treat a freelancer as a freelancer; exerting control over how, where, or when a freelancer works could classify them as a W-2 employee.
Working with freelancers. A good contract is the foundation of any good freelance relationship. Write a contract that lays out deliverables, deadlines, payment terms, and other expectations. Clear terms circumvent the need for micromanagement, so your freelancer can do their job while you do yours. However, it is wise to schedule regular meetings, to address questions and get status updates.
There are a lot of talented freelancers out there, but it can be hard to find one who works well with your business. So, when you do find a great freelancer, hold onto them. If you have a similar project in the future, it’s much easier to turn to freelancers you’re familiar with — and who are familiar with your business — than it is to start from scratch.
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