For many businesses, the potential for future growth is an important factor to consider on a regular basis. We may start out as lone workers, spending every waking hour marketing, networking, dealing with day-to-day admin and business finances as well as focusing on the all-important delivery of our actual products and services to our customers, but as our businesses become more established and successful, it’s natural to look outside of ourselves if we want our businesses to continue to grow. There really is only so much of you that you can dedicate to your business before something has to give (whether that is physically or emotionally, or in terms of the quality of the service that you are able to provide).
Taking on an employed member of staff is a huge step for any business owner, though is often considered a natural progression for any business. As well as the office space, furniture and hardware/software costs associated with an additional member of staff, there is the hourly rate, holiday entitlement, PAYE and pension costs that need to be factored in to your cashflow and financial projections before you commit to covering another person’s living expenses. There is an alternative though – welcome to the age of the freelance workforce! Talented, experienced and professional self-employed small business owners who offer a broad range of remote business support services are a growing community with the ability to support the entrepreneurs of Britain (and beyond!) in a flexible and cost-effective way, freeing up valuable working hours for SMEs to dedicate to the task of bringing in new and repeat business.
An experienced business support professional should feel as though they are a part of your business. They are helping you to work towards the continued success, growth and development of your business. Even if they are only providing a few hours of support per week, you will find that the way you and your customers think of your business changes when you take on a freelance team member. You have moved from ‘I’ to ‘we’ – from a single person to a small team – and for some customers, this simple shift can provide a bit of a comfort blanked of support; the continued provision of the product and service that you offer is no longer just down to you. If you are on holiday or extremely busy at work with large and time-consuming projects, or are unexpectedly unwell, there will still be someone available who can potentially deal with enquiries on your behalf. Admittedly, there may be some customers who are used to your incredibly high standard of work and support who are reluctant to trust an unknown entity when they have a proven and trusted resource in you, but if you can ensure that your new team member (whether employed or freelance) has the appropriate knowledge, experience and skills to maintain your record of top-quality work, that should be enough to appease most customers!
So what should you look out for in a freelancer to ensure that they really are the best fit for your business? It’s so important to look out for someone who really takes the time to try and understand your business. You want to work with people who share your attitudes and values, and understand where you want to be in 3 to 5 years’ time; A freelance team member doesn’t have to be a short term solution before you take on an employee – you can easily build long term professional alliances with freelancers without the financial overheads associated with permanent members of staff, allowing you to grow your business on your own terms.