There aren’t enough hours in the day – I get it. Take it from someone who runs three startups; there’s only so much you can do and trying to be everything, to everyone, all the time isn’t going to work wonders for your mental, physical or emotional health.
The time has come for you to designate, and that means hiring a contractor. It’s a big step for someone who’s used to running their own ship, whether that’s single-handedly or with a couple of trustworthy crew members on board. But if you do your research and ask the right questions, it could end up being one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
Why hire a contractor?
While there are pros and cons to hiring an independent contractor, there are certainly great reasons to consider inviting an independent contractor into the fold, including:
1) You’re time-poor – that term doesn’t even begin to cover the position you’re in. You’re absolutely run off your feet so you need to source an extra set of hands to help cover the load.
2) Access to different skills – you’ve just landed a new contract, or are branching out into different areas with current clients, but to scale the business effectively you need access to a specific skillset you don’t currently have. A contractor gives you the opportunity to swiftly adjust to the ever-changing demand for certain skills.
3) It keeps you flexible – hiring permanent staff is a big process, but working with contractors enables you to reduce or increase your staff members depending on how the market and economy fluctuates. Managing contractors can also conveniently be done online and communication can be better when everyone is actively staying connected.
4) Lower overheads – you don’t need to cover sick pay, holiday pay, tax or superannuation with contractors, you simply pay on a job-by-job basis.
5) Decreased liability – contractors are essentially their own bosses, so there’s no need to get into the nitty-gritty details that comes with insurance.
How to hire a contractor
Word of mouth is a big deal in the world of contractors – so begin by asking your trusted friends and colleagues if they know of anyone they’d recommend.
From there, the best way to find the right contractor for your business is to search online on websites where they are offering their services. There are targeted websites that list people requesting and offering contract labor, and posting a call-out for recommendations on LinkedIn or other social pages is also a good way to see who your business acquaintances might recommend.
Once you have a few candidates lined up, begin by giving them a call and have some key questions ready to ask, such as:
- Are they happy to provide a list of previous clients?
- Can they offer you a couple of references – both professional and financial?
- How long have they been working as a contractor?
- Are they happy to work on projects of your size, and how many other projects do they tend to have going at the same time?
The information they provide will offer you good insight into their availability, reliability and how much time they’ll be able to offer your business.
Time to meet
You’re now armed for face-to-face meetings. Pick your best prospects and line up a time to meet in person to chat in more detail and gather quotes. This meeting will also give you the opportunity to see if you click. Remember you’re inviting this person to be a part of your business and while they might not be working at the desk next to you every day, it’s crucial you’re able to communicate well.
If you like what you see, put your research to good use and pick up the phone to call their references. Talking to their previous clients is also a good way to get a more detailed understanding of how they operate and the quality of work they produced.
Don’t forget the small print
At this point you’ve hopefully found a contractor who you not only trust to do the job, but who you get on well with. Who knows? This time next year they could be a permanent part of the team with your own private handshake to boot.
But at the risk of stating the obvious, remember to put everything on paper in writing. Draw up a contact that outlines every step of the project, noting payment schedule, proof of liability insurance (if required), a start date and estimated completion date, as well as outlining any other requirements from either party. This isn’t about trust – it’s just good business sense and ensures everyone’s protected and on the same page. You should also supply your contractor with a full job description and detailed brief for every job they undertake.
Make the most of it
There are a few things you can do to get the best out of your newfound business arrangement, such as using an integrated project management platform to keep track of your contractor’s work. Try to integrate cloud-based applications wherever possible too – it enables your contractor to work online anywhere, anytime, while also being connected as a team, whether they are traveling for the job or are at your location.
And finally, keep an eye on the numbers. Track their hours and make a note of how much they’re costing you to check that you’re getting value for money – you started this journey to help ease your workload, so make sure it’s worth every penny.