As your company grows, you may find that your existing team is no longer able to handle all the work necessary to keep things running. This means you’ll need to conduct some hiring – but what kind of workers should you look for? Should you hire a freelancer? To answer that question, it helps to understand the drawbacks and benefits of working with freelancers.
You have a lot of options for adding new members to your team, but freelancers are becoming more and more popular. There are good reasons for that – freelancers offer needed flexibility, and are often a low-cost solution. At the same time, there are also downsides to hiring freelancers, and it can sometimes be more useful to hire a full-time team member.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the different ways you can expand your team. We’ll also discuss the downsides and benefits when you hire a freelancer, and help you decide whether it’s the right choice for your business. Let’s get started!
⚽ Your various options for expanding your team
Knowing when to expand your team is one of the most crucial but tricky parts of running a business. Hire too soon, and you may end up overextending your budget. Hire too late, on the other hand, and you might end up in a situation where there’s no one available to handle key tasks and projects.
That’s why you’ll want to keep a very close eye on your business’ overall workload. You should know how many man-hours worth of work there are to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and how many actual man-hours are available to handle that work. This may be a little tricky if your workload fluctuates, but keeping tabs on these metrics over an extended period of time should help to average out the variations.
Another important detail when doing these calculations is to focus only on the key tasks – the ones that are essential to your business – and not various “admin” or “filler” work. It’s understandable that you always want to keep your employees busy, so you’ll find them work even when a project is on hold. However, this type of work shouldn’t be counted toward all those “man-hours needed” numbers.
With that done, if the two numbers – man-hours available and man-hours needed – have been close to equal for a few months or so, it’s probably time to start looking for extra help. In other words, it’s time to start the hiring process when your existing team is at or near max capacity consistently, and you expect continued steady growth in the future. That way, when the hiring process is complete, there should be work for the new team member to do (without overloading them right out of the gate).
Your hiring options will depend somewhat on your industry. However, there are three main categories of workers you can recruit to your team:
- Full-time workers. What counts as ‘full time’ will vary somewhat, but what’s important is that this person will be fully committed to your business. You’ll likely have to provide benefits as well as a salary, and the employee will probably work on-site.
- Part-time workers. This is a useful option if you need some help, but don’t have the budget or need for a full-time employee. You’ll likely be responsible for less (if any) benefits. You also have the option of later offering a part-time worker an advancement to full-time employment.
- Freelancers. A freelancer or ‘contractor’ does work for your business, but doesn’t count as an employee. That means they’re exempt from most laws regarding benefits. You can hire a freelancer to do anywhere from a few hours of work per week to 40 hours or more, and they may work in-house or remotely (usually the latter).
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably at least considering adding one or more freelancers to your team. With that in mind, let’s look more closely at the pros and cons involved.
👍 The benefits when you hire a freelancer
Freelancers are popular for a reason. In fact, more and more companies are starting to rely heavily on these types of workers. According to recent studies, around 35% of U.S. workers freelance, which adds up to nearly 57 million people overall – a 7% growth over the last five years.
To understand why that is, let’s explore the key benefits of hiring a freelancer:
First and foremost, when you hire a freelancer, it typically involves a lower cost and less financial risk. There are several reasons for this, including:
- ✅ You aren’t typically required to offer any benefits, such as paid time off or retirement plan co-pays.
- ✅ Taxes are often lower on your end – in the U.S., for example, you won’t need to pay into social security for your freelance workers. The scenario is similar in other countries as well. You generally don’t have to worry about the freelancer-side taxes – it’s them who have to take care of those.
- ✅ You won’t have to worry about severance pay, or any other factors that make terminating your relationship with a worker costly or complicated.
- ✅ The process of hiring a freelancer is often quick and simple – as is ending your contract if necessary.
In addition to the above advantages, freelancers are flexible workers. You can hire a freelancer do to just a few hours of work per week – for instance, if you needed someone to manage your social media channels. This is also useful if you want someone to put in more hours than a part-time employee typically would, but still do less than full-time work.
Plus, many freelancers are willing to work irregular schedules, as and when you need them. As long as you’re clear about your needs upfront, you and your freelancer can craft whatever type of relationship serves both of your needs.
Finally, freelancers are also excellent when you’re in need of a specialized skill set. When bringing in a full-time employee, you’re probably looking for a well-rounded person who can handle a variety of tasks. You may also invest in someone who lacks key skills currently, but shows the potential to learn them over time.
However, what if you’re specifically in need of a programmer skilled in a particular language, a blog content writer, or someone with strong graphic design skills? That’s where the benefits when you hire a freelancer really become apparent. With a little searching, you should be able to find someone who specializes in the exact skills you need – meaning that they can hit the ground running and will need little to no training.
👎 The drawbacks of working with freelancers
As you can see, there are many reasons to consider working with a freelancer. The benefits of hiring a freelancer are certainly impressive. At the same time, there are certain cons you’ll want to consider before opting for a freelancer over an employee.
The primary downsides of hiring a freelancer include:
- Split focus. A freelancer will almost certainly be working for other businesses – possibly many of them. These external demands on their time can pull focus away from their work for you. They may have decreased capacity or even become unavailable for periods of time.
- Less commitment. For the same reasons explained above, a freelancer is less committed to your business. This increases the odds that they will be slow to respond, prioritize other work, or even fall out of contact completely.
- Decreased control/supervision. You don’t have the same level of control over a freelancer that you do with an employee. You can tell them what work to do, but it’s largely up to them to decide how, where, and when to do that work. As freelancers typically operate remotely, it’s also harder to verify whether they’re being honest about the number of hours they’re working.
- Lowered potential for training and advancement. Most freelancers won’t be interested in going through a long training process, and it’s often not advisable to invest that level of effort in a contract worker. This can cause issues if you have very specific requirements, or are hiring someone to do a complex job. Plus, if you decide you do need an in-house employee or someone willing to work longer hours, there’s a good chance you’ll have to start the hiring process over from scratch.
These are some significant drawbacks, so they’re worth bearing in mind. Freelancers may be a simpler option, but they do come with a certain level of risk attached.
🤔 How to decide whether a freelancer is the right fit
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to the question of whether you should opt for a freelancer or an employee. You’ll have to look at the drawbacks and benefits of hiring a freelancer, and consider how they relate to your business’ needs.
In general, hiring a freelancer is a good idea if:
- ✅ The hours you’ll need will likely vary from week to week or month to month.
- ✅ You need someone with a specialized skill set who can start helping out immediately.
- ✅ You’re looking to decrease costs, or simply can’t afford the salary and benefits of a full-time worker.
- ✅ You’re happy for the new hire to work remotely, on their own schedule.
In the other hand, you’d probably be better off with a traditional employee if:
- ⚠️ You require consistent, full-time hours on a set schedule.
- ⚠️ You need someone to work on location.
- ⚠️ You’re looking to train the new worker in a particular (and rigid) set of process, requirements, etc.
- ⚠️ You’re not willing to take on the risks involved in working with someone who isn’t committed to your business, and has many other clients.
- ⚠️ The new hire needs the capacity to advance in your business and take on greater responsibilities over time.
If you do decide to hire a freelancer, there are many places to find them online. Just make sure to vet them carefully – ask for samples of their previous work, see if you can speak with prior clients, and conduct an interview just as you would for an employee.
It’s also a good idea to create a contract, so the relationship between your business and the freelancer is very clear. Finally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws relevant to what can and can’t be considered freelance work. It’s very common for businesses to confuse the distinction between freelancers and employees – being aware ahead of time will keep you from inadvertently crossing any lines.
If your current team is struggling to keep up with your business’ workload, it may be time to expand. For companies that operate online, freelancers can be a particularly attractive option. At the same time, they aren’t without associated risks.
There are many benefits of hiring a freelancer – it’s a smart choice if you need a flexible, remote worker with a specialized skill set. If you require someone you can train and cultivate over time, however, and you want them to be fully committed to your business, a more traditional employee relationship may be preferable. The good news is that if you decide to try hiring a freelancer, finding excellent options online is simple.
Do you have any questions about the process or benefits of hiring a freelancer? Let us know in the comments section below!
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