Expert post | 5 Things to Consider When Taking on A Freelancer
One of the things I love about working with so many fabulous entrepreneurs is that I am able to share their expertise with you, those who take the time to read the blog, and hopefully share advice that may be able to help with your business. So, without further ado, I will hand you over to Soniamarie from Event HR.
5 Things to Consider When Taking on A Freelancer
There comes a time when, as a business owner, you realise that you need an extra pair of hands to help you to get things done. Hiring a freelancer to take on some of the day- to-day tasks can be a big help to you, without the huge financial burden that is associated with taking on an employee for example. Within the wedding and event industry, freelancers are used frequently to assist with administrative takes such as blog posting and social media management, or to provide assistance with event management and coordination. I think it is safe to say that they have become and first port of call for many event business owners.
What is key, is to hire the right person as they will in some way shape or form, be an extended arm of your business and will represent your brand.
So, here are a few tips on what you need to consider when taking on a freelancer within your business:
Tasks to Be Done
It is important to have a clear idea of what tasks you actually want the person to do. It is so easy to say that you need a freelancer and then to go out and find one. But, you will also have to give a brief on what you actually need them to do. Failure to do this is the reason why so many arrangements breakdown and do not get off to a good start. Imagine being brought on board to do “a job” but then not being told what that job is and what it entails exactly? This should not be the case when taking on an employee and definitely should not be the case for freelancers either as it is unlikely that they will stick around to find out.
A freelancer usually has their hands full with their own work and that of others. They will to have the time to figure out what you need them for and what you want them to do – it is your responsibility to have figured that all out beforehand. Why? So that you are both clear on their remit, they can provide you an accurate quote based on what you need and you can ensure that you are using their time, which you are paying for, effectively.
It also sets for a good start into your business and good working relations.
Experience and Skill
Handing tasks over to someone who is not a part of your business can be quite daunting. Delegation does not always come easily to business owners particularly if you are in the earlier stages of your business journey and used to doing everything yourself. This is even more reason why you need to be confident in their level of experience and skill.
Perhaps you are a wedding cake maker and need help to bake cakes, you will want to know that the person is 1) able to bake to your required standard and 2) has the relevant food safety qualifications in place. This can be the same for a bookkeeper in terms of qualifications or even a photographer in terms of experience in shooting at styled shoots for example.
If you are going to hand over a piece of your business to someone else to manage, you need to be assured that they need to know what they are doing and that you can trust them. You can find out by asking questions:
- To see examples of previous work they have undertaken such a photos if they are a photographer or a blog post if they are a blogger. Evidence is essential.
- Asking other suppliers in the industry who may have worked with them for their opinion
- Asking for testimonials from past clients.
- Asking to see any relevant qualifications and training certificates
- Asking for times when they have undertaken similar work
There is nothing wrong with doing your due diligence and the freelancer will expect to be asked these kinds of questions. By doing your research, you will get a better understanding of their skill set and experience, which in turn will help you to make a decision as to whether this person is right for the job or not.
Freelancers often like to work to their own schedule. This of course is one of the benefits of leaving the 9-5 and going it alone; you can work as and when you want to and set your own schedule.
Do you know when you will need them to work for you? This is should be agreed ahead of taking them on board. You cannot assume that they will be happy to do work during their family time or really late at night. You also have to consider that as a freelancer, they will be working for other peo
ple at any one time, which could take them to any part of the world. Technology makes communication and the ability to work from anywhere, super easy so requiring them to come in to for meetings every week may not suit their schedule and location.
You should find out if they have other commitments, how much time they are able to give you whether this be the number of days per week or hours in the day. Be clear on what your business needs are so that you can realistically assess if the arrangement will work for the both of you. You want to know that they are able to meet your schedule and of course deadlines. It is all about setting expectations and when you need tasks to be delivered on.
Clarifying how and when you will communicate with your freelancer is important. They are not your employee and so you do not have them at your beck and call within specified hours for meetings or talks.
How much communication do you think you will need with them for the duration of the contract? How do they like to communicate? For example, if you are taking on a virtual assistant, they may prefer to correspond via emails and only at certain times. If you are hiring a wedding planner to coordinate a wedding on your behalf, this will require quite a bit of communication and even meeting attendance in person and virtually. The nature of the job means that you being able to communicate frequently even on weekends, is essential.
Finding out how flexible the freelancer is something you must know and will be the first step to creating communication guidelines between you. Your freelancer may not be happy for you to contact them on a Sunday for example or via whatsapp and voice notes.
Whatever is agreed, this should be included in the contract.
Regarding of the type of freelancer you are taking on, you should be seeking someone who is the best fit for your business. This can be in terms of attitude, personality and work ethic if you will be working frequently and closely with them (think virtual assistant). Or if you are taking on a second photographer for an event, finding someone who takes similar style photographs as you which represent your brand and is the basis for a client hiring you in the first place, is really important.
If you find someone who is really good, you may want to use them again in the future or have them work with you for a longer assignment. Having someone who fits well into your business, brand and way of working supports an effective and on-going working relationship. Do you want to have to find a new freelancer every time you need something done or would you prefer to use the same person over and over who “gets it” and “gets you”? I would guess that you want the latter. This is why spending time finding the right person is a worthwhile investment.
It is so important to formalise your arrangements by ensuring that you have a Contract for Services in place clearly outlining that they are not your employee and are responsible for their own tax. It is wise to check that they will not only be working for you and are at least registered as self-employed with HMRC. Why? Well, your contract is your safety net. It is the document that you will refer to in case of dispute or a potential claim for employee status. It sets out tasks, your policies and the parameters of the working relationship clearly so that there should be no room for ambiguity.
How you treat the freelancer is also very important i.e. you cannot discipline them or pay them sick pay if they are unable to do the work, or actually control how they do the work either. These are some of the things that can give someone employee status in employment law which, if proven can mean fines for you if you have not met the associated employers responsibilities. Clearly, you did not want these responsibilities and that is the very reason why you took on a freelancer in the first place.
It is true to say that hiring a freelancer maybe a little easier than hiring an employee particularly in terms of the limited employment rights they have. However, less rights does not mean no rights and you still need to be responsible and reasonable “employer” and treat them well and stick to the terms of your agreement.
If you want to know more about how to recruit a freelancer and your responsibilities then why not book in a HR Hour to talk about it? Alternatively, you can download a free resource here and my legally compliant Contract for Services template.
I am a fully qualified HR Consultant with 18+ years’ experience supporting businesses with everything HR orientated. Coupled with my 10 years in organising and planning weddings and events and running my own wedding planning business as well, I understand both sides of the coin. I get it, and can offer you services that are relevant to your business and the industry that we both work in and love.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to schedule in a call with me to find out how I can support your business find the right service for you email@example.com
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