2020 has been a rough year on a lot of businesses – first we had Covid-19, and then now an oil price slump; all against the backdrop of global turmoil in the form of Brexit and US-China trade tensions. It’s enough to turn any business owner’s hair white. In these tough times, however, you have an alternative asset that just may save you: and it’s freelancers. Here’s why:

Why consider more freelancers / contract workers in tough times?

  • Speed and versatility are more important than ever
  • Now is not the time to be spending lavishly on rent
  • There are more top professionals on the prowl in bad times
  • You can’t afford hiring mistakes in tough times
  • Cost efficiency will improve your odds of survival

1. Speed and versatility are more important than ever

A downturn often requires businesses to adapt and change – fast. This could mean going digital to supplement brick and mortar sales (fear of the flu doesn’t stop people shopping online), and disrupted supply chains may mean big changes to your product range (hello, new marketing programme).

Not only do you need to be versatile, to take on these changes, you also need to act before you feel the revenue crunch. The trouble is, where do you find the talent needed to do that?

Often, going out and cramming your payroll with new experts just isn’t feasible. You also can’t expect your existing employees to “upskill” and instantly make changes; SkillsFuture is great, but it’s not magic. Even after training, your employees will lack experience with their new role.

This is where freelancers come in: because you can engage freelancers on a project or consultancy basis, you can have experts work for you without needing to put them on staff. On top of that, many freelancers are experts in their niche – by spending time with your staff, they can transfer a portion of their experience. For example:

Say you have a staff member who just recently upskilled, and learned to set up eCommerce portals. By working with a veteran freelancer, your employee can be guided along with the task, picking up crucial skills; and your company won’t make as many mistakes when going digital.

Take advantage of freelancers to expand your talent pool and business adaptability. It may be just what you need to find your footing in this downturn.

2. Now is not the time to be spending lavishly on rent 

This is the worst time to be renting a bigger office, to house a staff that may – ultimately – shrink back if the situation gets worse.

Unless you’re using a co-working space, remember that offices typically look for three-year leases. If it turns out your business can’t grow as much as you’d like, and your staff doesn’t grow much (or even shrinks), then the bigger office will be a waste of money at the worst possible time.

Freelancers, however, don’t need office space – many are happy to come in for meetings and updates, but can find their own working areas. It’s possible to have a whole team of freelancers working on a project, without needing so much as another square foot of office.

3. There are more top professionals on the prowl in bad times

We wish it were otherwise, but here’s a plain fact: in hard times, retrenchments go up. Formerly well-paid professionals find it difficult to get new jobs, and some highly skilled and experienced people are left out of the economy.

In times like these, many top professionals make a living through contract or freelance work, while they look for their next opportunity. To be honest, they’re probably not interested in staying long with you (they may be on the way to start their own company, or looking for a more senior position). But some are willing to work on a consultancy / contract basis for you, for just a while.

Take advantage of this when it happens. Most of these professionals have deep industry expertise, and former connections you can leverage. In typical situations, their seniority would make them unaffordable on the payroll.

4. You can’t afford hiring mistakes in tough times

This goes without saying, but there’s less room for mistakes on your payroll right now. Every dollar counts, and a bad hire causes far much damage than just a wasted paycheque.

For example, consider the impact if your new staffer does a bad job, and you lose a client; or if your new hire is so hard to work with, that the rest of their department develops an unproductive, toxic culture (this sort of drama is time-consuming to deal with, and takes your attention off your business when it’s most needed).

A freelancer, if you make the wrong hire, is easy to drop from a project. Many are also more careful about their work, as they survive on their reputation. We can help you with our database of vetted professionals, so visit Creatives at Work to find the industry’s best.

5. Cost efficiency will improve your odds of survival

Freelancers can save you money. They can charge per hour or per project, and then leave when the job is done – you’re not obliged to keep paying them when their work isn’t needed.

If you’re in a situation where every dollar counts, this can be a lifesaver – you can lower your business costs by paying for work exactly as and when you need it, and not a dollar beyond that.

Come talk to us about your project, and we can work out the most cost-effective way to get it done with expert, independent contractors.