If you’re a small business owner, a day in your life probably looks like this: rushed coffee, breakfast meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, finance reviews before noon, dealing with human resource issues and assisting customers in the afternoon, thinking of website design options in the evening and organizing the logistics for a local event after hours.
Clearly, time is of the essence. Working smart is not a choice but a necessity for survival. But what does it take to work smart? And how can you meet your goals without breaking the budget or over-stretching your employees? There’s a ton of advice out there for small businesses to manage their productivity, but one trend that is truly redefining the modern workplace and helping solve day-to-day small business problems is hiring freelancers.
According to a recent study by Intuit and LinkedIn ProFinder, freelancers made up a mere 6% of the workforce in 1989 but are expected to represent 43% of the workforce by 2020. Have you considered leveraging this robust pool of talented industry experts to assist with project needs? Here are 5 reasons why freelancers are a great fit to meet your small business needs:
1. Freelancers are a great option for urgent and/or unexpected projects:
You probably spend hours in quarterly planning but there are always urgent needs like setbacks with a client or changing market situations that can’t be anticipated or planned for. Hiring a freelancer is an efficient way to resolve immediate business needs like quick market research to inform business plans or a copywriter to improvise on a sales pitch.
2. Freelancers work on demand so you can focus on what you do best:
This is because you can pick and choose “ready” talent with the specific skills you need and avoid the time spent on annual reviews, coaching and training that full-time employees typically warrant. However, it may take some time to onboard a freelancer on the business context. It’s important to be selective and look for professionals that have the right industry experience, preferably with similar companies.
3. Freelancers are usually a great economic choice:
Not all jobs can be done via freelancers but there are a few business needs that are better addressed by part-time or project-based hires. For example, you probably don’t need an accountant all year round. But when tax season is around the corner, hiring an accountant will save you time and money. You can avoid the fixed cost of a full-time hire and optimize your tax obligations.
Do your homework when determining what your project may cost. Freelancers can charge an hourly rate (anywhere between $50-$150 an hour) or by project, so be sure to know what the industry standard is for your location. This will help you set realistic expectations on what you should budget and will help avoid sticker shock. Based on a recent LinkedIn ProFinder survey, 55% of freelancers charge on project basis:
4. Freelancers can offer the expertise you might not have in-house:
You don’t always need someone to execute projects from end-to-end. Sometimes all you need is a consultant to bring domain experience to set the strategy and get the ball rolling for the rest of the team. A marketing consultant with expertise in digital marketing can help you determine your strategy, budgets and tactics. Or a freelance CPA (certified public accountant) can be like the CFO on demand by analyzing your company’s finances past and present, forecasting the road forward, and assessing risks to help you achieve your financial goals. The actual execution can be completed in-house more easily once an expert has weighed in and determined the goals for the team.
To give you an idea of the functions that lend themselves well to freelancing here’s data from LinkedIn ProFinder on their top industries for 2016:
5. Freelancers can offer much needed unbiased, fresh perspective:
We all need a bit of fresh perspective and experts can sometimes have the best and most relevant advice when they sit outside your business. Freelancers will provide clear, unbiased opinions on how to resolve complex business issues and will provide you with solid outcomes. Invite your freelancer to any brainstorming or roundtable discussions where they can add value and provide input. This will also help them understand expectations and create a project plan.
All in all, while freelancers are not a silver-bullet solution to all talent needs of a business, they can alleviate some of the day-to-day stress and make for a productive addition to a small team until a business is ready to scale. When hiring one, it’s key to evaluate their industry experience and credibility – and what better way to get that endorsement than from your own network – LinkedIn ProFinder leverages your professional network to do that work for you via reviews and ratings and makes hiring a pro simple, free and reliable.