Dear House Rules,
Every year, I promise myself I won’t work my employees so hard, and every year, I go back on that promise. They’ve been great about it, but the late nights, weekend work, and missed family events are taking a genuine toll on their stress levels. Is there a solution that will let me keep meeting my clients’ needs while letting my employees keep their sanity?
Want to work smarter, not harder
Dear Work Smarter:
There absolutely is a solution for this problem (a problem faced by almost all small businesses, especially those with high-demand and lower-demand periods.) It’s expensive to add regular permanent employees – and what happens when business slows down in its cyclical way, or a major project falls through for some reason?
Subcontractors, also known as freelancers, can help provide a great solution. Here are just a few of the pluses of using freelancers when you want to spare your regular employees the extra hours and heightened workloads that come with high-demand periods.
– Freelancers are Cost-Effective
You can bring subcontractors/freelancers on board to handle extra work without generating a lot of additional overhead. Hiring a permanent employee can cost 25% more than if you bring a subcontractor/freelancer on board for the same purposes. The reason for this is pretty simple: tax withholding. For a permanent employee, you’d be paying Social Security and Medicare tax, worker’s compensation insurance, liability insurance, employee benefits, and so on.
– Specialized Skill sets
Need an art director who’s a whiz at Illustrator? A User Experience (UX) specialist for your big presentation? A writer with oncology experience? Subcontractors/freelancers bring with them a unique skill set that can enhance your business’s work. From design efforts to technical writing tasks and beyond, you can keep clients happy by meeting their needs with specialists you might not have in-house. This also keeps your existing team members focused on their areas of expertise, so their primary work doesn’t suffer if there’s an assignment that doesn’t play to their strengths.
– More Hands on Deck for the Busy-Season
Much like retailers hire temporary workers for the holiday shopping rush, there’s often one or more particular time of year that sees a surge in business depending on the client. Subcontractors/freelancers can provide extra manpower when you need it. They can be the answer to meeting those seasonal needs without bringing folks on board for the long haul.
If you decide to go the freelancer route, following are a few basics you should know before you dive right in:
– Find the Right People
You’ll be surprised at how easy this is. Use your existing networks – word-of-mouth, social media, etc. – for trusted recommendations and referrals. Check out portfolios or samples to get an idea of a person’s work.
– Formalize an Agreement
To forestall any misunderstandings, formalize the basic terms and conditions of this new working relationship. Include a description of what professional services and quality your expect, termination conditions, invoicing terms, tax reporting requirements, non-compete language and an intellectual property agreement.
– Have Freelancers Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
If you’re planning to share any client-specific knowledge or materials with your subcontractor/freelancer (and in marketing, you will), you simply have to have this legal document. It establishes the confidentiality of that information, and can restrict subcontractors/freelancers from speaking about or divulging private company information to outsiders. Most clients expect this.
– Follow Hiring, Tax Reporting and Labor Requirements
The law is strict about how businesses classify subcontractors/freelancers versus employees – and violations can be costly. Doing some basic research about contracts and tax forms up front can save you significant money down the line.
At Xavier Creative House, we operate with a small and efficient team of “core” employees, expanding or contracting depending on our workflow and demand. So far, this model has enabled us to grow significantly as a company. We’d be happy to share our strategies with you in more detail, or if you’re a potential client, we’d love to “staff up” with the right people for your next project (we’ve worked with most of our freelancers many times before,) Feel free to reach out via phone, email, or social media anytime!
Reference: 1. https://smallbiztrends.com/2014/04/using-subcontractors-employees.html. Accessed January 24, 2018.