Dependable contractors can be a boon to many small businesses. In addition to delivering high-quality work in a timely manner, reliable freelance contractors represent a cost-effective alternative to excessive hiring. As such, small businesses that constantly find themselves in belt-tightening mode can benefit from working with seasoned freelancers. However, not all contractors – and not all businesses – are equally obliging, and there are a number of things that can sour professional relationships between contractors and clients. Small business owners thinking about bringing contractors into the fold would do well to avoid the following blunders.
Lack of Clarity
When working with freelancers, clarity is absolutely imperative. Since you’re unlikely to maintain the same level of contact with freelancers as you do with regular employees, make sure to properly outline projects and clearly state your expectations before work commences. A contract worker is unlikely to be as well-versed in your personal communication style as someone who works with you full-time. That being the case, don’t leave anything up to chance or expect freelance contractors to fill in the blanks on points you fail to elaborate on. In addition to being as clear as possible at the outset of a project, you should strongly encourage freelancers to reach out to you whenever they have questions.
Some freelancers are hesitant to ask questions mid-project because certain clients either tacitly or explicitly disparage doing so. To these individuals, asking for clarification signifies a lack of ability and indicates that freelancers are incapable of completing jobs without having their hands held. If any of this describes your approach to addressing questions from contract workers, you have no right to admonish them for not meeting your expectations. Unsurprisingly, most freelancers are hesitant to continue working with clients who get upset with them for failing to meet expectations that were never properly outlined. In addition to placing projects in peril, such behavior stands to compromise efficiency and productivity on the part of freelancers.
Failing to Offer Room for Growth
It’s generally understood that freelancers aren’t regarded as regular employees, but rather contractors whose services are enlisted on an as-needed basis. However, depending on how often your business works with freelance contractors, it’s entirely possible that you’ll forge lasting professional relationships with certain contract workers. If you’ve been regularly contracting with a freelancer for years, it’s entirely possible that this person may expect to be presented with opportunities for growth. For example, if they do the same amount of work as a full-time team member, sans a salary or benefits, it’s reasonable for them to expect a little bit more. Whether this means increased pay rates or an offer for full-time employment depends on the freelancer, as well as the client’s need for the type of work they produce.
As is the case with any other type of employee, if you truly value the efforts of high-performing freelancers, you’d do well to provide opportunities for advancement. This isn’t to say that you’ll need to extend such offers to every contractor worker you come across, but if someone has provided your enterprise with years of dedicated service, it’s only fitting that you pay it forward. If some freelancers don’t believe they have any hope of advancement within your business, they may opt to prioritize work from clients with whom advancement is an option. Additionally, to ensure that the right freelancers are matched with the right projects, take care to utilize strategic sourcing solutions.
Poor Pay Rates
Many small businesses work with freelancers as a cost-cutting measure. After all, reaching out to someone on an as-needed basis is far more cost-effective than providing them a salary. However, this doesn’t mean that freelancers should be undervalued and paid rates that are well below what they deserve. While wanting to save money is perfectly understandable, offering contract workers consistently poor pay rates is likely to drive them away.
Enlisting the services of reliable freelance contractors can benefit your small business in a number of ways. From helping your enterprise conserve resources to producing fantastic work in an expedient fashion, skilled freelancers are a welcome presence in any type of business setting. Of course, this isn’t to say that you’re going to be equally pleased with every contractor you hire, just as contractors aren’t equally pleased with every client. If maintaining sound professional relationships with your business’s various contractors is a priority, take care to steer clear of the mistakes discussed above.