"Your ability to learn faster than your competition is your only sustainable competitive advantage. "
- Arie de Gues
It is no secret that the world today is barreling towards complete digitization. One of the many, many benefits a virtual world provides is the fascinating opportunity to connect and collaborate with people across different cities, even continents and create value. What is more, Freelancing, as it is called, has facilitated us to work from the comfort of our homes and without office-hour constraints.
Employees jumping at the opportunity to move away from the confines of a 9-to-5 work structure and employers wanting to procure more and more talent without actually hiring them, Freelancing has proved to be a non zero sum game. In fact, the Freelancer workforce has grown by 500% between 2000 to 2014. The numbers are expected to only go up.
What makes Freelancing so enticing? And how can you, as a small business owner, make the best of it? For that, we will have to look at the pros and cons of outsourcing work to Freelancers and see how it can all be blended into giving you the best possible outcomes.
PRO: Range, with a pop of Specialization
The numero uno benefit Freelancing offers an employer is the sheer variety of content they can produce. You can have anyone from a fresher to an experienced expert weighing in, whereas, you are stuck with the same team with limited skills when working in-house. A rather interesting observation, however, comes from the senior lot of the workforce.
There has been a tremendous uprising of about-to-retire employees working Freelance. It gives them great opportunities to put their time-tested knowledge and experience into helping new business owners expand their horizons. So much so, that 73% independent consultants have indicated that they would rather not go back to a regular job again.
CON: Quality can take a hit
Cheaper the Freelancer, more the time you’d have to spend course-correcting the projects. While it is true that outsourcing work to Freelancers opens a whole new world of possibilities, it takes an exceptionally skilled recruiter to pick the good ones.
HOW TO FIX THIS? Well, you just have to be thorough in your examination of the candidates. Many Freelancers can lie on their resume to get the gig, plain and simple. Do not be afraid to ask them to present relevant documents or previous projects to be certain of their capabilities. Many companies organize online tests to weed out the ones not suited per the requirement.
PRO: Pay Smart
A straight fact in this regard is that companies that hire Freelancers save around 20-30% as compared to hiring full-time employees. Unlike with in-house teams, where you have to pay the employee in full regardless of how efficient or incompetent they are, you only pay for what you receive to a Freelancer.
Another fact is that a business’s manpower requirement can always slide up and down based on their needs. And having the option of Freelancing at your perusal allows your business scalability and flexibility that eventually leads to an organic growth.
CON: The Communication Conundrum
Communication is key to any business operation. And it is no different while outsourcing work. In fact, it is the single biggest disadvantage to hiring Freelancers. You can always check up on a Developer working in your office premises, or resolve queries on the go to ensure a smooth flow of work.
But with someone working from their home, communication gaps may cause unwanted delays. These problems multiply when different time zones are involved. Submission deadlines can often be quite a task to meet.
HOW TO FIX THIS? You need to lay out some ground rules beforehand. Allow them to work at the hours they choose but have them report to you once or twice a day about their progress. Apps like Slack allow smooth team communication and TeamViewer facilitates desktop sharing to avoid confusions.
Accommodate without Accommodation
A tiny workspace is a huge problem for a budding entrepreneur. You may want to add more people to your team but are restricted by space constraints. Thankfully, today, you don’t have to worry about a limited workspace if you are expanding in the virtual world. You can continue to operate from a 2 room-office and save up on the rent when you have a team of Freelancers working for you.
CON: Some jobs just don’t fit
Freelancing is great. But it’s not meant for every job or project. Though there has been a rise in Freelance HRs, in-house HRs are still preferred for a budding business. Consider designers and writers that work on the daily social media posts: a light graphic or a 2-line caption isn’t exactly something that can be Freelanced.
HOW TO FIX THIS? Understand how your business operates and what exactly does each operation need. If your writing needs consist only of article publishing, you can easily Freelance it. But if it is a blend of social media posts, copywriting, editing and article publishing, an in-house writer is your best bet.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
You know your business needs better than anyone else. Hiring Freelancers is possibly a forward move for you, even if you have an in-house team, but it is important to hire smart. Small businesses have been thriving by outsourcing talent and there is no better time than today to venture into it. Just remember the triple constraint triangle of management. Here, our constraints are: Cost, Expertise, and Flexibility. If having a Freelancer benefits you in any two, you are good to go!