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By all accounts, we live in the “age of the freelancer,” and more and more people are opting to escape the traditional working arrangement that has predominated for decades, and are taking their careers “out of the office,” and onto the road.
Freelancing hasn’t always been seen as a very positive career path. There is notoriously little in the way of job security – that is, in the sense that you can guarantee, more or less, that you will be employed by a particular client for a particular length of time – and the stereotype has typically been that it is a fairly “easy come, easy go” way of living and working.
And yet, with many features of the business environment having changed in recent years, and with the phenomenon of people being able to relax comfortably into lifelong careers seeming to be less and less a feature of the modern world, freelancing may in fact be more secure in some ways.
After all, a freelancer is highly mobile, and will likely be working with numerous clients at any given time, meaning that the “loss of a job” is unlikely to absolutely devastate them in the ways it might with someone who has put all their eggs in one basket.
To conventional business owners – and particularly to small businesses and start-ups – the new rise of the freelancer provides many positive opportunities.
Increasingly, businesses are adopting a more streamlined, and a leaner approach to doing things, and are relying on freelancers as a solution to their logistical needs, without having to embark on the commitment of hiring an office full of permanent in-house employees.
Of course, getting the most out of a remote worker requires a certain approach, and a certain set of understandings. For example, here are 10 tips on how to get the most out of working with an offshore development team, including such things as the importance of sharing your full business vision with your remote workers.
In any event, here are some of the assorted ways in which hiring freelancers and remote workers can improve your business.
Increasingly, these days, freelancers are willing and able to provide an upfront “per project fee”, before beginning work, as opposed to doing things in a more traditionally established way, which would rely on charging per hour spent on a task. Not only does this mean that you can have a better sense of what’s happening upfront, but you can also adjust and plan your budget accordingly before embarking on any given project.
If you are hiring a “temp worker,” for example, you would presumably be paying them a wage for as long as a project dragged on. So, if the project happened to drag on for significantly longer than you thought it might, you would find yourself investing significantly more money than you might have originally anticipated.
Established freelancers, however, will have a good sense of how much work a particular project will take them, and will be able to account for this when setting a price.
There are immense benefits to doing things this way. For one thing, it removes a lot of uncertainty from your professional life and allows you to much more effectively allocate resources. This, in turn, can dramatically improve your professional security, while also ensuring a high and consistent level of productivity.
You could, for example, work out the details of a project that you want done, and then consult various freelancers about it in order to identify the average price range for the project. Then, you could spend some time reviewing your budget, making allowances, and if necessary, saving up before committing.
By the time the project is actually underway, you should have a crystal clear idea of what your expenses will be, and what kind of results you can expect in return.
And that’s another one of the benefits of hiring a freelancer. Most professional and established freelancers worth their salt will have work samples, and testimonials from past clients, that they can show you in order to keep you informed and set your expectations at the right level.
For the vast majority of human history, people were hunter-gatherers, and existed across the world with the same rudimentary technologies, and broadly the same sort of cultural practices, for millennia.
According to archaeologists and anthropologists, it was the agricultural revolution, and the beginning of permanent human settlement, that drove the bulk of all technological and cultural innovation due to the fact that the situation facilitated specialisation.
And still, today, significant advancements – especially in business – rely on your ability to leverage specialisations and expert skill sets, as opposed to simply doing the best you can as a “generalist.”
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners fall into the trap of trying to do it all themselves, indefinitely.
And yet, no one is a specialist in more than one or two areas. If you want your business to thrive, you have to be able to benefit from the work of particular specialists, in order to get the most out of every dimension of your business.
In a conventional business model, this would be accomplished by hiring permanent staff members, in order to handle the specialised tasks.
Of course, this is a serious commitment and involves a lot of logistical balancing, planning, and investment of capital.
Freelancers allow you to bypass the difficult job of bringing on a full team of in-house employees, while still letting you benefit from the skills of specialised workers. For example, instead of hiring a permanent web developer, you can bring on board a freelancer on a project-by-project basis, as and when you need your website redone.
It’s not always easy – or even possible – to know for sure what services and skillset your business will need, over the long term, in order to be maximally productive and profitable and to face the challenges of the industry.
This might cause certain conundrums if your basic approach to doing things was to hire a set of employees, test their performance, and perpetually be in the process of creating, and shutting down new “departments.”
For one thing, this could get you a bad reputation with potential employees – and even in your industry, in general. No one tends to be a big fan of fickle employers.
All the same, however, you might find yourself bringing on board a certain team member out of the conviction that you absolutely need a particular role filled in your company, only to discover after a short while that there are more cost-effective and efficient ways of doing things, and that the majority of the work done by that employee is ultimately unproductive in the grand scheme of your business vision.
Clearly, freelancers help to smooth out – even completely eliminate – this particular conundrum. Because, when you are using the services of a freelancer, you are free to “try” different services, and temporarily “fill” different roles, without the need for long term commitments, or the risk of excessive hard feelings developing.
What’s more, it may be the case that your business really needs particular team members on board for particular busy periods of the year, but not for other periods. In such cases, hiring freelancers on a part-time, and rotating basis, can make your business far more agile and effective, while also reducing financial waste, and logistical complication.