By Jerry Mooney
Freelancing has become a popular way for people to pursue their careers. With the creative industries, in particular, freelancing allows individuals to take charge of their careers and choose work that interests and motivates them.
For business owners and employers, hiring freelancers also has its benefits. From employing specialist skills to keeping employee counts low, businesses can enjoy high-quality work without increasing headcount.
If you’re considering hiring freelancers or an agency for your business, the following advice can help you learn more about the benefits, while also giving you some information on what to look for in a quality freelancer.
Cost is one of the main reasons why businesses choose to hire freelancers over full-time employees. A freelancer can be paid on a contractual basis, with one set fee for the completion of the work. Employees, however, come with various other costs such as insurance, pensions and other costs that can soon lead to an increase in your expenditure.
With freelancers, you don’t have to worry about these factors. Freelancers pay their own taxes, and it’s up to them to make sure they have health insurance or a pension plan. Meanwhile, the majority of freelancers provide their own equipment – helping you to save on costs that your company might not be able to afford at this time.
Freelancers are experts in their field, having worked for years in the industry before branching out on their own or developing their skills over the years. When it comes to hiring a freelancer, there are certain things that you should look out for to make sure you’re choosing a trustworthy candidate. Most freelancers will have a portfolio available and testimonials from past clients to give you an idea of the kind of work they can do as well as give you assurances as to the sort of working relationship you can expect.
Working with an external agency for certain services offers the same benefits regarding expertise. If you have certain business needs that can’t be covered by your existing staff members, it makes sense to hire those with expertise rather than bringing in new members of staff.
It solves a current need or problem
Much of the work that freelancers are hired to do is project-based. This means that if your business has a need, a freelancer or agency can fulfill that need until the task is complete. If, for example, you were looking to develop an app or some software for your business, then you’d hire a software development company for this. Once the project is complete, you may not have use for these skills again, which would have made hiring a permanent member of staff a waste of resource.
However, hiring a freelancer doesn’t necessarily have to be for a one-off project. In some cases, you might need to hire a freelancer or an agency on an ongoing basis to carry out work that isn’t necessarily required all the time. A copywriter is a great example of this – someone who can write your web copy but may not be needed on a full-time basis. Many businesses will also hire freelance graphic designers or website managers to take care of work that is needed throughout the year.
It’s easier than ever to find the ideal freelancers for your needs. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you’re no longer bound by geography to find someone with the skills and availability to work for you. With most freelancers working remotely, you can find someone online easily who will be able to work with you through regular contact online or by phone. Cloud computing makes it easy to collaborate and get real-time updates on the progress of the work, giving you peace of mind when putting your trust into an external party.
There are some great websites to find skilled contractors, which allow you to search from a pool of thousands of talented individuals. You can even provide a brief and invite people to pitch for the work, demonstrating why they’re the perfect candidate for the job. You’ll find that going through a trusted freelance portal like eLance or Guru allows some security for your money and also involves some regulation to ensure people are who they say they are.
The downside of hiring freelancers
Of course, while there are many benefits to hiring freelancers, there are also some downsides. Freelancers work for themselves, so they may not necessarily stick to a working hour schedule that your business operates by. They might also be working on multiple projects at once, which means your business could fall down the list of priorities on occasion.
It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the risks associated with hiring freelancers before you commission the work. There is some best practice guidance for hiring freelancers that can help you mitigate the risks to ensure a successful arrangement. It’s worth checking up on references before you contract anyone to do the work, and while not always possible, a face-to-face meeting can help to alleviate some of your concerns.
While there are downsides to working with freelancers, there are ways of avoiding the risks that shouldn’t put you off making the jump. Freelancers can provide many solutions for your business and can help you employ more modern ways of working that you might find refreshing. The keys to business success include being analytical and being adaptable, so put these things into practice while making your decision.
The question of whether or not your business should hire a freelancer depends on many different factors. To make the best decision for your business, you’ll need to consider the options available to you and assess them based on a financial and practical perspective. Speak to other business owners about their experiences of hiring freelancers; you might even find that you get some good recommendations out of it.
Hiring a freelancer might be a risk, but it could be a risk worth taking if it delivers the right results for your business.
By Jerry Mooney
No one goes into business with the intention of failing. In fact, many people starting out can suffer from having their sights set too high and giving themselves unrealistic goals. Whatever market you are currently working in, there are certain fundamental rules to being successful that everyone must follow; no one who ever created any real success will be lacking in these areas. Many will seem quite obvious once you know them, but it is important to make a conscious decision to begin to incorporate these traits into your daily working rhythm. Below are the four key pillars of having a successful business. Follow these and watch your company flourish.
Awareness is quite a loose term, but it encapsulates a lot. In this instance, awareness is used specifically about your strengths and weaknesses. Many people have no problem listing those attributes that they see as strengths. However, it takes a different kind of business person to be able to accurately identify their own shortcomings. Those that can do this will go far. By knowing what it is that you do not excel at, you can delegate, create partnerships, or alter your methodology to ensure that these personal weaknesses do not become business weaknesses. For instance, if creating and keeping track of paperwork and invoices is a struggle for you, delegate it, or use something like a FreshBooks example to make the process easier. If you are good with numbers, but not so good with people, let a more experienced negotiator take charge of your client meetings. Do what is best for the company and leave ego out of your business decisions. A good methodology to adopt is ‘the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ so make sure you are using the most effective parts and strategies in all areas of your business.
With the exponential growth and change that technology is affording modern business, it’s a case of evolve or die for many companies. In order to be successful, you must be prepared to be unsentimental about your methodologies and practices. Other companies will embrace new technologies and meet customer needs in new and exciting ways, if you are not doing the same you will be left behind. Know what your clients and customers need, and make sure they are getting it from you. In order to do this effectively, you will need to immerse yourself in your chosen market. Go to conferences and expo events, speak to other business owners, read publications. You must know your industry inside out, only when you know how it is changing can you hope to predict where it is going.
Big businesses are widely publicised as spending big money. In 2010, Coca-Cola spent an enormous $2.9 billion on advertising alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your money on expensive ad campaigns too. Their total profit for the year was also in excess of $35 billion. So that helps to give an idea of percentages spent. A good business knows when to spend money and when to save it. There’s no use spending thousands on an advert campaign that only brings in a few hundred in extra revenue. Always weigh up the return on investment for any of your big spends. Keep an eye on the little costs too. Providing mountains of free pens to staff that are constantly getting lost or thrown away will end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. You could also look at saving money on manufacturing costs, or even your utility bills. Even small savings can add up to big increases in your profit margin over time.
Your analytical skills tie in somewhat with the other points mentioned, but it deserves a mention of its own. You should always be looking for opportunities to develop and hone your business. Gaps in the market, ways to impress your customers, ways to diversify or new ways to and specificity and skill to your service. You should constantly be looking to identify the shortcomings of your business and seeking ways to turn those weaknesses into strengths. A successful business is one which is never satisfied with the way things are. Comfortability is the enemy of success.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to build upon your current knowledge and working style to create growth and success for your business. It is never easy to stand out in a saturated market, but following these tips will allow you to inch ahead of the competition little by little until you start to put yourself in a completely different league to them.
These days we breathe technology (image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/apple-coffee-computer-desk-356056/)
By Lina Martinez
Technology is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” If you are anything like the majority of the population, we probably lost you as soon as the fourth word of the definition was written. Is that right? As much as we use it (from social media to search engines, the average individual is connected to the internet for an average of 20 hours every week), many of us don’t know much about technology, and this can be a real problem if we have to make use of it professionally.
If you also like spending time checking your Facebook or Twitter accounts but haven’t got the slightest clue as to what to do if your client asks you to send them a compressed file, the below lines are specially for you.
Here’s how to be better prepared for technological dilemmas.
There would have been a time at some point or another when you tried sending a file via email, and you received an onscreen message that told you the file you were trying to send was too large. This is a standard issue with many people who work in industries that require large and bulky documents to be transferred from one user to another. If the reports you are dealing with on a daily basis are image-heavy specially, these will pose a problem when it’s time to send them via email, and you will need to use software that enables you to compress these ahead of sharing the information. Learn how to zip and unzip files on your Mac so that you no longer have to face this issue.
If you run a successful company, making calls will also be part of your business, and at times, these will be international and lengthy. There is nothing technology can do (yet) if you would like to shorten your calls and make them less annoying (specially if your client is not the most exciting person to talk to), but there is something it can do to ensure you don’t end up paying thousands of dollars monthly on your telephone bill. With the internet and technology today being relatively easy to use for the average user, connectivity has also been improved and made more accessible by the key players in the industry. Applications like Skype will enable you to call Skype members for free, and those who haven’t signed up to the platform can still be reached at cheaper rates on their landlines and mobile phones. For more affordable connectivity rates, give Skype a go!
Last but not least comes scanning. This is extremely useful if we wish to send our clients or customers a copy of a receipt or an identical copy of an original that already exists. Gone are the days when we would use our scanners and faxes to do this. These days, with applications like Dropbox you too can become a scanning master with just the help of your mobile phone. Download the app onto your phone and scan any document before you send it to your email address or that of the customers you serve.
By Brian McKay
Once you have got your business up and running it is very easy to slip into a comfort zone, whereby you stop aiming for progression and you become at ease with your achievements. Although this is not always the case, you need to remain one step ahead of the business world at all times. Many small and large companies end up failing because they become too lax and laidback with running their business. A lot of entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve their business and this is what you should consistently be aiming to do. There are a few tweaks which you can make to your habitual working day which will improve your business flow and create a better relationship between you and your consumers. Choose the ideas which appeal to you the most and take action now before you slip into the banned zone of comfort.
Know Your Network
Did you know that you can monitor every slight movement, activity and motion throughout your network? Visit websites such as https://www.ipswitch.com/network-monitoring, to find out how software can help you to stay on top of the goings on surrounding your online systems. Map out and create a personalized dashboard which highlights everything you need to know, from online traffic to potential bugs. By using programs like this you can boost the productivity and efficiency of your company and watch the trends occurring around your network. Get any malfunctions cleared up quickly and be notified instantly if you need to take action when a problem arises. You will soon be grateful for the extensive knowledge products like this have to offer and your business will run more smoothly as a result.
Listen and Learn
You can majorly improve your business just by listening to feedback from your customers and clients. Many companies don’t carry out enough market research to evaluate the populations view on their products and services. You are providing people with a worthwhile service, but sometimes there may be areas in which you can improve. You won’t know what they are thinking unless you actively ask them for their opinion. The market is changing so rapidly that you need to keep up with your competitors. Keep your eyes open at all times and listen to those who you are striving to satisfy.
Be On Top Of Your Budget
Map out your finances to the finest detail and make sure you’re setting a reasonable budget for your business spending. By sitting down and re-evaluating your financial situation you can avoid a potential monetary mishap. You might just find a snag in your initial plan and you could start to cut costs in places you didn’t think were possible. Once your business is on its feet you will start to find ways to cut back on your outgoings and eventually your flow of finances will become more efficient.
You could also think about upping your marketing strategies as you start to get to grips with your competitors. Keep your ideas rolling and never believe that any job is fully completed. The more you stay on your toes the more effective your business will be.
By Jerry Mooney
Rock climbing is a sport which is becoming incredibly popular amongst many in this day and age. If you fancy giving this fun, full contact sport a try this year, here are some of the tips you need to take into account…
The climbing gym
Don’t just find the nearest rock edge in your area and start climbing. Climbing can be dangerous and it involves a lot of skill and practice. When you start out, head to a gym which has a climbing wall section or even a climbing class where you can be taught the basics in climbing. Reach out to other climbers and try to learn from them the best way to approach the wall.
Bust the jargon
If you are serious about getting into rock climbing, you need to start learning the lingo. For example the best rock climbing shoes are ones which are made with smooth soles and sticky rubber. This helps your grips and movability on the wall. A harness is a rope with a belt and loop attaches which will allow you to climb without worrying about hurting yourself. A belay is a device used for when climbers are securing a rope for another to ascend, and to control the slide down on a rope to the ground.
Perfect your moves
Before you step out onto real rock, make sure you have perfected your moves and you know exactly what you are doing. It will take time to become comfortable enough to step outside, but once you do you should be skilled and ready for the challenge.
Understand the risk
Climbing is a dangerous sport. You need to make sure that when you do finally get outside. You recognise the risks of the sport and don’t try to jump in too early. Stick with simple walls to start with until you have nailed the technique and then slowly work your way up to the big boys.
Go with a crew
Rather than simple going out on your own and finding a wall you think you’d like to climb, try joining a group of experienced climbers and climb with them. This will be a great learning curve for you because you will be able to watch what they do and they will be there to guide you if you are struggling with it.
Don’t rely on others
Although it is advisable for you to listen to the advice of more experienced climbers, you don’t want to be depending on them for your safety. You need to learn how to tie knots, check your anchors and secure your harness yourself. This way you have the peace of mind that you are safer when you go out alone.
Don’t focus on the fear
It might seem like an impossibility to ever go rock climbing if you are afraid of heights or scared of falling, but just remember that these are innate fears which everyone has, and they keep us alive. Push past your fears and focus on what you can achieve.