Whether you call it the ‘sharing’, ‘gig’, ‘freelance’ or ‘on demand’ economy, the way we work and hire has changed significantly in the past few years. Now, 30% of Australians are undertaking some form of flexible freelance work.
Over in the US, around 35% of the workforce is now considered ‘contingent’, with that number estimated to reach as much as 50% by 2020. By the same year, revenues from the gig economy are expected to grow by over 300%, increasing from US $6.4B to US $20B.
For small business owners, the growth of the freelance economy means there is an increasing pool of accessible talent at your fingertips. So how can you make the most of it?
Here are some essential ways that hiring a freelance consultant could help your small business.
1. They make experience ‘on demand’
Using high-quality and experienced freelance consultants is a cost-effective way to bring in best practice from outside your company and upskill your existing team in a way that fits with your business. The cost of adding full-time employees, particularly experienced talent, may be unrealistic. Accessing freelancers to assist with specific projects or campaigns is more effective. It saves you money and provides the added benefit of working with experts, so you’re not stretching yourself too thin.
2. They allow you to scale up and down as needed
Talent is a large cost base for most businesses, which means there is a lot to gained by improving the way we identify, hire and use it. New technology and hiring platforms have made it easier than ever to connect with workers across all levels of business. There is no need to waste time and money on the traditional hiring process or overspending on a full-time position that you may not be able to maintain throughout the year. The CSIRO’s paper, Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce, indicates that this ability for companies to reduce core staff is one of the main drivers of independent work in Australia.
3. They help you compete with larger businesses
In a global economy, SMBs often have to compete against bigger, better-funded and resourced companies. When you can pull in top talent quickly, easily and more cost-effectively, you save time and money and position your company to grow. We’re even seeing more SMBs tap into the power of an ‘on demand’ C-suite, such as a temporary CFO, CMO, CIO or even, CEO. This enables business owners to benefit greatly from external insight and experience without breaking the bank.
4. They can help you reduce redundancies and turnover
Flexibility is key in business. It is not uncommon that your staffing needs fluctuate throughout the year or suddenly increase following a big customer win. Taking an ‘on demand’ approach to hiring will help ensure you can maintain and support your full-time staff as needed and protect you against investing too heavily in new positions. Plus, by having access to hiring platforms, you have the ‘pick of the litter’ instead of hiring from a small pool of proactive applicants.
5. They are independently motivated
A recent report by Eden McCallum found that nine out of ten independent consultants are satisfied working in the way they do. Compared with full-time counterparts, independent consultants are more satisfied on nearly every dimension – such as intellectual challenge of the work and ability to choose the type of work. That means that when you work with a freelancer, you’re likely getting someone who is motivated to work for themselves and who is focused on delivering for you. Their reputation (and their income) depends on doing a good job!
Tapping into the specialised skills and experience of seasoned freelancers and independent consultants isn’t just for large companies. It’s up to you to take charge and begin harnessing top talent to lead projects and initiatives that will take your business to the next level.
About the author
Paul Anderson is VP Strategic Partnerships with Expert360. He previously served as the Head of Global Business Development at Intuit. Most recently, he ran his own boutique consultancy, building on his prior experience as a management consultant with Bain & Company. A true global business professional, his career spans different countries across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America with extensive experience in strategy, business development and international expansion.