I know all too well that starting a new business can be exciting, frightening and consuming! I’ve had to rely on my creatively superior husband for help with my business logo, and advice from a school friend on SEO; not to mention picking my best friend’s brains about limited company set-ups and corporation tax.
I’ve heard that even when you’re further down the line, simply finding the time to get everything done can be a huge challenge for business owners, and sometimes there will be jobs on the to-do list that fall way outside your own skill set, or simply don’t make business sense for you to spend time on (like my über-successful friend, who farms out her store returns to a Virtual Assistant).
How (else) can freelancers support your business?
Freelancers are experts in their fields, and the very fact that they have worked with other organisations means you benefit from their market knowledge and understanding of different sectors and industries. If you’re flummoxed by Facebook and terrified of Twitter, a social media consultant can optimise it to help gain you more exposure and more custom.
An employment law error could cost you very dearly indeed, both financially and in reputation. But many small companies simply cannot afford their own HR Manager. Freelancers are highly flexible, and the amount or frequency of work can be arranged around what your business needs, whether that’s a monthly retainer to cover any queries or updates, or simply ad-hoc advice on a particular case.
How could we forget the bottom line? Paying a freelancer to work when you need them means you get help in without adding permanent overheads. A marketing freelancer joining your forces once a week, for example, pales in comparison with the cost of a full-time employee, and you can arrange a pattern that suits the workload and your budget.
Know your worth
You started a business to do what you are good at, not to fumble around with something that’s not your forté. Think about what you could be doing instead of populating a mailing list – some real-life business development, generating leads or completing some fee-earning work. By hiring freelancers, you’re freeing up your own time to do what you do best.
If you’re hiring freelancers, the agreement you have with them is a contract for service, not a contract of service. To keep that distinction, don’t treat them as if they’re your employees. Freelancers are usually sole traders or limited companies, as such have no employment rights from the client they work for, may work for multiple clients at once and often work from home. They invoice you, you pay them directly for the work they’ve done as agreed… and you have way less admin.
Where can I find a freelancer?
Freelancers are avid networkers. Ask around. Check out LinkedIn and your social networks. There are entire sites devoted to matching freelancers with projects, but a friend of a friend might just be a fantastic freelance web designer just when you need their skills. There’s something rather cockle-warming about small businesses working together, too.