A title card which reads, "When Should You Hire a Freelancer?"

Small business owners wear a lot of hats.  

That’s probably why a lot of small business owners average 52 hours a week, according to a 2005 Gallup Poll.  There’s always something to do, and it’s always important.

Who knew you’d need to be a designer, account manager, recruiter, copywriter, and service representative just to run a specialized business?

Those tasks probably aren’t why you got into business in the first place, but they’re essential to any successful enterprise.  If you find yourself pulling your hair out over these problems, maybe it’s time to hire a freelancer.

Here are a few signals that outsourcing is the right step for you:

1.  It’s going to take you more time to do it yourself than it will for someone else to do it for you.

Most small business owners undervalue their time for one reason:  time is money. The typical logic is that if the entrepreneur does the work, they’re not paying someone else to do it for them.

At first blush, this seems like sound logic, but it becomes flawed the instant your time could be better spent doing other things to grow your business.

As a small business owner, you’re often the only one qualified to handle the most important tasks for your business.  That includes securing new clients and delivering the services or goods that the client expects to receive.

While you’re busy thinking up creative copy for your website or tooling around with a design toll you’ve never used before, you’re sacrificing time and energy that should be used to generate new business.

Here’s an easy way to look at it:  Did you know that nearly 50% of business owners lose a full workday or more to human resource issues, according to a 2018 study conducted by Oasis Outsourcing?

If you’re one-person business, that may not mean much to you until you realize that hiring new team members can create other time sinks that you hadn’t previously considered.

Don’t sacrifice time that’s better spent elsewhere.  Hire a freelancer and move on.

A man looks frustrated in the background while a clock sits in the foreground.

2.  If you do it yourself, you won’t like the outcome.

Another flaw with the DIY mentality is pretty straightforward:  If you do it yourself, you won’t like the outcome. This doesn’t matter for ugly-looking spreadsheets or poorly-written internal documentation.  

However, it matters a lot more when those documents are customer-facing.  

It’s is especially true for marketing and advertising.  According to a recent survey by Constant Contact, about 95% of small business owners do all the marketing themselves, but only 46% consider themselves to be “marketing savvy”.

Instead of trying to come up with an interesting tagline that you won’t be happy with in the end, hire a freelancer or two who can help you get the job done.  

Start by looking for writers who understand your pain points and couple them with designers who can generate a format that delivers messaging in a way that’s consistent with your brand.

You’re more likely to be happy with the outcome in the end.

3.  The ROI is immediately obvious, based on your own data and research.

There are dozens of ways to start a small business, but you’ll need more than a business license to win clients and keep them coming back.  It makes sense to hire a freelancer when the return on your investment is immediately obvious.

For example, if you’re planning a marketing strategy around Facebook ads, it makes sense to hire a writer with experience in social media spaces.  This is true for website design, printed flyers, and even blogs posts, guides, and other sales collateral.

Utilize S.M.A.R.T. goals to help yourself achieve happiness and success, and take advantage of freelance resources to further your business growth.

4.  What you need isn’t something you can do.

Nobody can be an expert in everything.  It’s impractical to try.

Sometimes, what your business needs is simply something you’re ill-equipped to handle.  There’s no shame in that; everyone has different strengths and weaknesses — but none of that changes what your business needs to succeed.

This is particularly true in the digital space.  According to recent data from Visual Objects, almost 40% of businesses don’t invest in a website due to concerns over cost and relevance.  

In an age where every customer has a computer in his or her pocket, lacking something as fundamental as a website is a surefire way to miss business.  But if you’ve never had a website and you don’t know how to design one, you might feel nervous about trying to invest in one.

Freelance writers, designers, and developers — along with a host of website hosts, like Squarespace and Wix — so be sure to consider all your options before leaving major components of your business behind.

5.  It’s a one-off.

According to Recruiterbox, it can cost up to $5000 to hire new employees.  If you’ve got a steady stream of work for that individual and they can contribute to your business growth, that’s great!

But what about one-off projects, like a website, a pay-per-click ad, or a sales brochure?  You need the work done, but you only need to adjust it periodically throughout the year.

Freelancers are great for this type of relationship.  Hire a writer to generate the copy you need. Collaborate with a designer or web developer to create something visually appealing.  Partner with a developer to get it online.

While it’s true that you’ll make some expenditures up front, learning to hire a freelancer for small but essential jobs will ultimately save you money in the long run.  Plus, if you’re satisfied with the result, freelancers are typically more than happy to work with you on a recurring basis as your needs arise.

A man with a fist drawn back threatens to punch a computer screen.

6.  You’re at a breaking point and you need some help.

If you browse any business website or read any small business book, you’ll probably find yourself bombarded with a laundry list of metrics that you should be paying attention to.  Conversion rates, social media engagement, outreach responses, cost of retention, and cost of acquisition.

And every single one of these metrics requires a time investment that can easily pull you away from the heart of your business.

When you’re at your wit’s end and you need help, consider outsourcing to a freelancer rather than hiring a new employee.  Not only does this keep costs down, it also gives you the ability to hire for the issues that you’re least excited to deal with.

Instead of spending over six hours a week on social media, like 43% of small business do, you can divert that time toward other, more meaningful tasks while keeping that channel alive.  Hire a freelancer who loves social media, and who understands your brand, and you’re all set!

Wrapping Up

While it’s not something you hear much about unless you’re plugged into the freelancing community, the gig economy is growing.  According to Recode, the demand for freelancers and by-the-job workers is expected to double in the next four years, thanks to startups like Uber and Airbnb.

Combine that with the fact that freelancers work in every facet of the economy on a regular basis, and you’ve got the basis for a strong selection of workers suits to your needs.

It’s true that the conditions for hiring a freelancer have to be right for you and your business, but don’t forget that it’s always an option.  Those specialized skillsets that can unlock profitability for your business aren’t out of reach.

In fact, those skills might be just a phone call or an email away.

Looking to hire a writer?  Let’s talk!