In 2018, there’s not a single small business owner out there who doesn’t know the benefits of leveraging the flexible freelance talent market. Whether you need a website designed, a blog post written, or an HR system created, there’s an independent contractor somewhere in the world who can give you exactly what you need.
It’s vital to recognise though that working with contractors is very different to working with employees, and for many business owners, it’s a whole new playing field. Avoiding some common mistakes will save you time, money, and a whole load of headaches. Let’s take a look at what they are…
Going with the cheapest option
Let’s be honest here… When we turn to freelance talent, cost is a very big factor. It’s true that hiring a contractor can cut down your spending. You need to think beyond the hourly rate though, because that’s not where the real savings are. Often, it’s worth choosing a freelancer who’s charging a more premium rate for a job well done. All things considered, you’ll still often save a considerable amount of money. Always think about the bigger picture, and the importance of the quality of the work.
Failing to set project milestones
If you need a brand new, fully functional website delivered within three months, then that’s a deadline that you’ll need to communicate to your contractor. Along the way though, it’s important to have milestones so you can assess progress, provide feedback, and ensure that everything is on the right track. Set checking-in points, and agree on what the communication process will look like.
Neglecting to build meaningful working relationships
You may not see your freelancer every day in the office, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a valuable member of the team, even if only for a limited window of time. When you build meaningful relationships, you can benefit from knowing that you have a trusted expert on hand whenever you need them. These days, your employer brand goes way beyond what your full-time employees are saying about what it’s like to work for you.
Not paying promptly
Freelancers are often sole traders who have bills to pay. It might be acceptable in your industry to pay invoices within 90 days, but consider the circumstances and how you can ensure that you reward their work in a timely fashion. Paying an invoice by the end of the current month might not be your existing way of working, but it could be time to review that if you want to work with freelancers for the longer term. Of course, you should always set these expectations in advance.
Thinking that you know it all
As an employer, you’re the boss. You’re often responsible for training and development. You’re a line manager, and you lead the way. Working with a freelancer is different. If you view them as a strategic partner, an expert consultant, then you could pave the way for a much more positive outcome. Remember that if you’re making good hiring choices, they’ll know their subject area way better than what you do. Be open to suggestions, and value their insight.
Freelancers can give you the talent and the flexibility that you need to hit your business goals, but as with all hiring decisions, you need to take a carefully considered approach if you want to get the best possible results.
If you’re thinking about shaking up your talent strategy, we can help. From where to find top freelance talent to how to create contracts that are fit for purpose, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch today for an initial no-obligation consultation.