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How SMEs can harness freelance talent

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We’ve all heard about the benefits of going freelance – increased flexibility, freedom and a better work-life balance – so it’s perhaps unsurprising that last year alone the freelance market grew three times faster than permanent employment. Yet we hear less about the real benefits that freelancers can offer businesses, particularly SMEs.

In an increasingly competitive global economy, freelancers offer firms resource and expertise that they might not otherwise have access to, as and when they need it. They allow businesses to ‘flex up’ and ‘flex down’ according to customer demand whilst also keeping overheads low. In short, embracing this new way of working can give firms the competitive edge they need to get, and stay, ahead, both in the short and long term.

Businesses are beginning to identify this potential, with eight in ten employers now recognising that freelancers could be an important part of their workforce. However, stepping into the unknown can be easier said than done and knowing how to work effectively with freelancers is often a stumbling block for action.

This needn’t be the case. Here are a few simple considerations that will go a long way in making freelance talent work for your business.

When to use a freelancer’s expertise

The first consideration and one which is especially important for businesses on a tight budget, is deciding when to make the leap and take on a freelancer.

Two key questions to ask are do we have the capacity to do this work (or project) in house and do we have the expertise? If the answer to either of the above is no, it may be time to look for freelance support.

Read more on freelancing:

Do your research and pick the right person

As with any new hire you want the best person for the job, so put the time in in advance to ensure you pick the right person. Who you choose to hire will depend heavily on your business needs and reasons for hiring a freelancer in the first place, for example whether you need someone to work with you on a project basis or as maternity leave cover.

What specific skill set or experience are you looking for? Be clear with yourself about what is essential and what’s not and write the clearest brief you can so that you’re both on the same page from the very beginning.

Continue reading on the next page for guidance on freelance project planning, management and payment.

Image via Shutterstock.

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