Hiring Freelancers for Your Start Up

As a small business owner you may have thought about hiring freelancers or contract workers as a way to keep your overhead down. Although low costs can be enticing, you should be aware of some of the pros and cons to this approach. At Men In Kilts we have hired numerous contractors and for the most part have had some success, but also some challenges along the way.

Below are some pros and cons that might help you decide if hiring a contractor is right for you and your small business:

1. You can hire them when you need them.
You might not need them every month so you only need to use their services when you have a job for them. This helps keep your labor expenses down, as you use them on an as needed basis.

2. You have the flexibility to adjust the hours up and down as needed.
Some months you may need them for 2 hours where others months you may need 20-40. Keep in mind some contractors might require a minimum amount of hours, so it is important to find one that suits your business needs.

3. Tap into the expertise you likely can’t afford to employ in-house in the early stages of your business.
Hiring someone competent for SEO and graphic design is generally expensive. And if you don’t require this work to be done daily, it just doesn’t make sense financially to bring someone in-house. At MIK, we have a Communications Manager who oversees our contractors and manages the projects that require a skillset we don’t have in house.

1.You are likely not their top priority as they are juggling other client’s needs.
Be prepared to wait. Chances are you are one of several companies your contractor works with and therefore you need to be prepared that some of your projects may be sidelined. A good contractor will leave room in their schedule every day for small last minute projects and quick to-dos, however you still need to go into the relationship with the expectation that you might not get the work done as quickly as you had thought or hoped.

2. It takes time to get them up to speed with your brand, culture, etc.
Like with every new employee you need to teach them about your business and your brand. But unlike hiring someone in house it can take longer to teach a contractor because a) You may not be their top priority b) They don’t have the dedicated 8 hours a day 5 days a week to learn about your company from the ground up and c) You are likely a part of a long list of companies they also have to learn about.

3. There can be more communication challenges when using Skype and email vs. having them in house.
Just as having full-time employees work on a cloud-based system, when you don’t have someone standing right in front of you or in an office across the hall, the sense of urgency can go missing. They can ignore your phone call, postpone replying to your email and simply fail to reply to a Skype message because they could be too busy, away from the office or miss the message all together. You need to make sure you set clear expectations regarding the response times you expect, and should also request that you are to be notified if they will be out of office and for how long. Just because contractors/freelancers are working for themselves shouldn’t mean poor communication; good contractors will feel an obligation to their clients to notify them of an absences or challenges meeting deadlines.

We hope we have helped you in your decision to hire a contractor for your small business or start-up. Remember, like we said it can be great to help keep costs low especially in the start-up stage of your business, but like any relationship you enter into, when starting your own business you need to know what and who you are getting yourself involved with.

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