Advice for Small Businesses Considering Freelancer Help

If you own a small business and have built it up from the very beginning you probably are used to doing many things yourself. As an entrepreneur you have the vision for the future, ideas regarding the new products or services, understanding of your customers. Every day you plan how to improve what you do and how to stay one step ahead of the competition.

However, with growth your need for additional resources grows. You have to hire someone who can help and take on specific part of the work. For a small business though hiring every new employee is a serious decision. Besides finding the right person, you must consider whether you can afford an additional employee.

What happens if you need a new talent, but don't have the resources or desire to take on a full-time employee? Hiring a freelancer is the answer

The primary benefits of engaging a freelancer are the flexibility and cost savings. Freelancers work on demand when needed allowing small businesses to flex up and down their resources and spend levels. Further, small businesses can pick and choose resources with specific skills and experience, reducing the risk and training required.

While hiring a freelancer sound like a great idea, many small businesses are not very well equipped to take advantage of this large and flexible resource pool. Pretty much everyone today will consider hiring external help with some web development or graphic design. But for most other tasks small business owners do not consider outsourcing. The main challenge for many is knowing how to work with freelancers.

There are a few things that you can do to ensure successful engagement with a freelancer that you hire:

1. What do you want done?

Be very clear and specify what you want done before you start looking for a freelancer. It helps to write down specific things that you would like to have done at the end of the engagement. This will help you during the search and negotiations process with a potential freelancer as well as it will help them to be very precise in providing you with a proposal.

2. When do you want it done by?

Have a defined timeline and know when you need to get your project done. Well defined timeline will allow you to manage work delivered by external resources. Make timeline a part of your contract with your freelancer. Ideally your timeline will contain several interim check points to ensure that progresses on schedule to avoid any last minute surprises.

3. What does “good” look like?

Figure out what "good" end product looks like. You can ask for samples of work from prospective freelancers. These samples may help you to clarify what “good” end product should look like and who has the experience to deliver it.

4. How will you use it?

Explain to your freelancer how you plan to use what they will deliver. You are hiring someone for their expertise, so do not be shy to ask for their advice and explain your plans. They may provide suggestions or point out potential pitfalls, allowing you to avoid disappointment and rework if the end product does not fit your needs.

5. How much will you pay for it?

Determine how much it is worth to you. Be realistic in setting of your budget. While you do not want to overpay, setting too low of a price ceiling may push you to pick someone based on their price rather than experience and ability to deliver. It is best to set a range for your budget. Ask potential freelancers to explain how they determined their price because it may also highlight any missing considerations from your budget determination.

6. What is your working style?

Working style is often not taken into account when selecting a freelancer. Small business owners will spend a lot of time to ensure that a new employee fits into the company culture. However, when selecting a freelancer this is often overlooked because it is not perceived as important. Freelancer will be effectively part of your team for the duration of your engagement, so do take time and evaluate your and their working styles to find the right fit, not only based on skills but also based on personalities.

After a few successful projects you will get much more comfortable working with freelancers and start taking advantage of the immense pool of talented resources available to you on demand.



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