There are a variety of reasons for which small business owners work with freelancers. In some cases, they simply can’t afford to hire people full-time. Other times, the roles in question don’t require full-time hires. Regardless of your reason for deciding to work with contractors, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider beforehand. Although hiring a contractor is a very different experience than recruiting a full-time team member, you’ll still need to approach the situation with the utmost professionalism. Small business owners preparing to work with freelancers for the first time would do well to consider the following pointers.
Clearly Outline Expectations
When working with freelancers, it’s important that you be very clear about what you expect from them. If you and a contract worker aren’t on the same page from the outset, you’re liable to run into trouble throughout the course of the project. Even if you think you’ve deftly outlined your expectations for a certain assignment, make sure the freelancer(s) you’re working with know that they should come to you regarding any points on which they’re unclear. In many cases, asking a simple question can mean the difference between a job well done and work that requires extensive revisions.
Additionally, before admonishing a freelancer for failing to meet your expectations, carefully consider whether or not unclear directions are to blame. Failing to be clear when outlining an assignment and simply assuming that a contract worker will be able to fill in the blanks is unlikely to work out in your favor.
When outlining expectations, make sure that both you and your freelancers are perfectly clear on deadlines. Deadlines are an essential part of virtually any career, and it’s important that any contract workers you hire are able to deliver work by mutually-agreeable dates. That being said, projects can sometimes hit a snag, additional work can be added to them or a contractor could be forced to deal with an unforeseen emergency. Needless to say, any of these situations are liable to facilitate the need for deadline extensions. Although the ability to meet deadlines is an important quality for a freelancer to possess, some delays are simply outside of their control. So, when interviewing prospective contract workers, let them know that if deadline extensions are ever needed, you should be informed right away.
Be a Good Communicator
As you’ll quickly discover, some freelancers require more guidance than others. While some contract workers will be able to process directions in a heartbeat, others will seek clarification from you at various points of joint projects. That being the case, you’d do well to make yourself available to your freelancers and provide them with any answers they seek in a timely manner.
Since newer contract workers will lack a pre-established relationship with you and your team members, they may be hesitant to reach out for help for fear of looking unprofessional. As previously established, an aversion to asking questions can result in a lack of clarity and act as a contributor to unsatisfactory work. In the interest of avoiding such problems, make it clear that asking questions is never a practice that you or your team will disparage.
Provide Room for Advancement
Although freelancers, by definition, are people businesses work with on an as-needed basis, they’re hardly expendable. Like any other members of your team, if contract workers aren’t shown due appreciation for their efforts, they may not be keen on continuing to work with you. When looking for effective ways to reward high-performing freelancers, you can’t go wrong with offering room for advancement. For example, if a certain freelancer has proven themselves worthy of your trust, respect and repeat patronage, consider extending a full-time opportunity to them should the opportunity present itself. Additionally, make sure all freelancers are compensated for their work in a timely manner. A good virtual card is liable to prove extremely helpful in this endeavor.
Skilled freelancers can be a boon to any small business. While some enterprises only work with freelancers once in a blue moon, others enlist their aid on a consistent basis. In fact, some businesses regard freelancers as essential members of the team. Given how useful dedicated contract employees can be, it’s imperative that both you and any freelancers you take on know exactly what to expect of one another. In the interest of preventing confusion, frustration and outright anger, put the previously discussed tips to good use the next time your business finds itself in need of freelance work.