Archive for January, 2019

How Startups and SMBs Can Make the Most of the Freelance Economy

January 10, 2019

Six of ten start-ups in the past five years have used or are using on-demand or gig employees.

One in three workforce members are freelancing regularly by choice today.

The freelance economy has played and is playing a big role in the continuing growth of start-ups, small- and medium-size businesses, and even larger corporations; and that role keeps getting bigger.

Today 53 million Americans or 34% of the entire workforce is freelancing, and that number is expected to grow to half of US workers by 2020.

Freelancers are available and generally more affordable workforce than full-time employees for start-ups and SMBs to tap into.

Of course, the freelancing economy is not without disadvantages. One is that freelancers do not guarantee accountability, unlike with a regular workforce whom you can closely observe as they work.

On the flip side, in addition to freelancers costing less than maintaining a long-term workforce, they also help businesses expand their networks and form mutually beneficial business relationships.

All it takes is a system that facilitates good work, better communication, and integrated workflows between businesses and the freelancing community. These are the foundations that will help build long-term relationships and sustained success.

Here are some tools and platforms that will allow you to maximize the benefits of the gig economy.

Enhance Workflow Through Accountability, Performance & Tracking

Accountability has always been a concern when it comes to remote workers.  If you can’t always observe and monitor their work, how can you track their progress or evaluate their performance?

Relying on outside workers may also affect the productivity of your in-house team. By adding freelancers to the mix, it can be tricky to establish a seamless workflow that will keep everyone on the same page.

Businesses need to deploy a project management platform to manage your entire team, onsite and offsite.

There are plenty of platforms that can make sure everyone is doing their job, no matter where they are in the world. Some to consider:

  • Trello: a simple project management tool that allows you to assign tasks to specific team members; this cloud-based solution also enables you to specify deadlines for each task, and all of these are managed through a drag-and-drop card interface.
  • WorkflowMax: a time tracking tool which provides a time tracking and timesheet tool that can be used by project managers, full-time staff and freelancers in facilitating a smooth workflow will help to better enforce your use of a project management platform.
  • Xero: a financial tool that tracks the amount of time a freelancer puts in a specific work project will guarantee businesses get what they pay for and the worker wastes no time computing when it’s time to invoice and does so accurately.

Continue Expanding Your Network

As a growing business, you need to consider options beyond freelancing networks like Upwork that will help you connect with a bigger community of reliable freelance professionals. Start-up and VC communities as well as an accelerator or incubator are a good way to find good connections when it comes to talent and available work. Plus, beyond finding individual freelancers, a good network will enable your business to partner with other enterprises in fulfilling your goals.

Address Structural Difficulties

Sometimes, a professional may be hesitant to form freelancing commitments with businesses, particularly due to structural difficulties, such as managing taxes, spending overhead, and registration for documentation purposes.

As a business, providing your support for your freelance workers is important if you want to make the most out of the gig economy. Your business might consider helping them manage overhead costs, providing assistance in filing for regulatory or accounting purposes, and providing access to business resources, as necessary.

Remember that, just like your in-house team, forming long-term relationships with your remote staff is enormously beneficial. If one particular freelancer is highly valuable for your business processes, you should consider hiring them as a permanent remote staff as opposed to outsourcing them for projects from time to time.

With project management platforms that can help relay consistent workload, it will be just as good as having a permanent onsite employee.

Bridge Cultural and Time Differences

So you found the best freelancers for a long-term project, but they can’t deliver on a regular basis due to a difference in time zones.

Since the gig economy encompasses the global market of professionals, the cultural differences barrier is commonplace. The mismatching time zones are among the most common. This, however, can easily be overcome with the right use of project management platforms and tools.

The language barrier should be out of the question, especially since there are plenty of English-speaking professionals in most freelancing and social networks. But when it comes to other cultural issues, cost disagreements and payment, the differences may have significant implications.

Again, leveraging a workflow and time management tool can help provide accurate invoices, thus resolving the problem of both underpayment and overpayment.

Conclusion

In summary, the gig economy continues to empower startups, SMBs, as well as larger businesses with a global pool of talent that is accessible and cost-effective. For the most part, freelancers offer a better deal, especially for project-based agreements. But to bring about sustained success, businesses must look at the bigger picture and adopt strategies that will foster productivity and help keep reliable freelancers for the long-term.