“Welcome to the world of small business owners! We’re so happy you’re here! Come, let us show you the ropes.”
Not quite the reception you got when you dropped anchor and officially launched your small business? No one laid out the red carpet for you? The truth is, the beginning can be quite rocky for a small business owner, with a lot of twists, turns and unexpected bumps on the road.
One of the most notable and notorious bumps is the seemingly never-ending costs and financial surprises that will keep hitting your wallet in a most unpleasant way. It takes a lot of cold, hard cash to launch your business and in some cases, there’s nothing you can do about it, such as product quality, quantity, research or education costs, etc., etc. In other cases, however, there is something you can do and that is where…The Great and Awesome Freelancer comes in.
Freelancers come in many shapes and sizes, with many different specialties, but they all have one thing in common: amazing potential to downsize the “expenditures” column on your budgeting spreadsheet.
Here are 5 reasons you should consider the freelancer market today:
1) The Cost.
Like any established writing firm, graphic design corporation or other service provider, freelancers run the gamut of what they charge, but in general, they are much, much cheaper than their big box counterparts. Freelancers often work from home, which translates into little to no overhead costs, and work for themselves, which means the money goes straight into their pockets. Without all those nasty little detours your money must take in a big corporation, you will probably find that you need only part with much less.
2) The Service.
Assuming you hired a nice, pleasant freelancer with whom you get along (and why would you not?), the service provided by a freelancer is often much more personal than that of a big corporation. Rather than calling a 1-800 number or reaching an impersonal desk service with every question, you will have direct access to the person who is writing your article/designing your website/whatever. This equals more clarity, less frustration and less time spent getting the same job done.
3) The Talent.
Forget the hidden gem of the Caribbean, the hidden gem of the SEO or programming world might be in your own backyard. While at times a freelancer may be working solo for its convenient, flexible hours and rules, in some cases, they are on their own because they have built up a big enough reputation to do so. There are many freelancers whose expertise and excellence in their respective fields have allowed them to branch out on their own while retaining a huge client base. Take advantage!
4) The Expertise.
Along those same lines, oftentimes in a large corporation, the newbies are given the grunt work – i.e. the actual writing of your project or designing of your website, a.k.a. your lifeblood and the purpose to your existence – while the experts in the fields are doing the supervision. Don’t you want to know who you’ve just entrusted with the care of your baby?
5) The Flexibility.
Depending on the specific freelancer that you hire, you might find the flexible schedule and lack of home/work boundaries advantageous to getting your project done fast. Because freelancers often set their own work hours and are not bound to the 9-5 office grind, they might be able to crunch in a project between the unseemly hours of 12-2 a.m. or fit you in after an early breakfast.
When looking for the right freelancer for your business, make sure you do your homework like you would with any employee. Obviously, not every breathing organism with a computer and a desire to make money will be the right fit for your company, but some will. Look for credentials such as degrees, past experience in their field, (happy) references and competent communication skills. Check out their work for yourself to make sure that it works for you, even if others were satisfied, because everyone’s personal taste is different.
Many websites that are happy to profit from you can help you get started on your search, such as guru.com, freelancer.com, fivver.com and 99designs.com, but don’t forget your local market either. Friends that you went to college with, business contacts, relatives and neighbors might all know someone excellent in the field that you’re looking for, so don’t overlook them.
And when you find someone good, do the world a favor and pass them along to the next small business owner. Because there may not be a red carpet out yet, but a money-saving, fast-working, phone-answering, skilled and flexible freelancer is definitely the next best thing.
After graduating college, Donny Zanger began his first business All Week Walls, that erects temporary pressurized walls in the NY metro area. His company has been featured in numerous publications including the NY Times. He is also active in the development of mobile software technology.