How to Manage Contractors and Freelancers

Tiffany Walden, Writer

Contractors and freelancers play an integral role in most small businesses. According to LinkedIn, 70% of small businesses have hired a freelancer at some point. With unemployment rates low — and competition from larger companies with more resources — it can be hard for businesses to find full-time employees.

Independent contractors and freelancers can help fill that void. Hiring them can also help business owners save money on benefits packages. And freelancers can fill in expertise gaps. This can save small business owners money on hiring and training.

Here are some tips if you’re looking to add independent workers to your team.

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Find the right person.

Take your search seriously. As a small business owner, you’re looking for the best fit. You’re looking for someone who understands and meshes with company culture while also meeting your specific needs. The best way to find this wonderful person is to provide a detailed job description. Include specific tasks, deadlines, workflow expectations, and the project timeline. Additionally, be sure to include the pay rate and payment schedules. Do some research to find out what similar businesses are paying for these roles. In your compensation calculation, prepare for contractors and freelancers to negotiate. Know your budget for bringing in extra help.

Create guidelines.

Everyone should have a clear understanding of obligations — on both the manager end and the freelancer/contractor end. The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to lay out expectations. Include information about pay, project duration, and company resources. Also, note penalties for ill behavior, missed deadlines, and more in the guidelines for your freelancer/contractor.

Onboard your new contractor/freelancer.

This is the first impression your new hire has of the company, managers, and, possibly, the business owner. It’s important to onboard your contractors and freelancers, as you do your full-time employees, so they get an understanding of the company’s culture and language. This helps contractors and freelancers create products and/or content that speaks to the heart and soul of your company and mission.

Maximize productivity.

The point of hiring a freelancer or contractor is to get a specific project done within a given amount of time. So it’s important to make sure you, and your new hire, are maximizing productivity. You can make sure that the project is progressing by assigning regular deadlines and routine check-ins.

Schedule a follow-up meeting a day or two after the deadline. This gives you an opportunity to go over updates and any changes needed for the project. Additionally, keep communication open. Make sure your freelancer/contractor understands they can reach out to a manager, or the business owner, at any time.

Tiffany Walden is a contributor at Square where she covers everything from the importance of mentorship for minority entrepreneurs to how business owners can use technology to combat challenges within their respective industries.