An increasing number of people are joining the ‘gig economy’ and working on a job-by-job basis, giving them the flexibility to work whenever and whenever they want. But how can the growing self-employment trend help entrepreneurs who are just starting out? The Office of National Statistics estimates there are now 4.69 million self-employed people in the UK, making up 15% of the workforce. For many entrepreneurs there will be various opportunities where tapping into the skills of a freelancer is valuable to the business, although it’s important to understand the how’s and why’s of the gig economy.
For most business owners who are in the early years or just starting out, surviving on a small budget is a rite of passage. Payroll can often take up a large chunk of the fixed costs and using hiring freelancers can afford the business an added layer of flexibility – as well as the opportunity to turn fixed into variable costs. Many entrepreneurs don’t require full-time departments such as marketing or IT, so contracting these jobs out to freelancers on a case-by-case basis is a good way to help reduce overhead costs and remain agile. This level of flexibility means that entrepreneurs can quickly expand and contract their workforce according to demand.
For many entrepreneurs, the arguments in favour of using the gig economy are becoming increasingly compelling. Hiring freelancer’s allows business owners to flex the workforce in ways that permanent employment simply doesn’t provide. Independent gigs give workers the ability to work remotely from around the globe and provide quick, skilful services with a fast turnaround time both locally and internationally.
With more Millennial and Gen Xers moving to independent online work, there’s a rise in the gig economy – as this generation crave the freedom to choose their work, pay and place of work. As more highly skilled, connected and mobile workers enter the gig economy, entrepreneurs are well placed to utilise this type of worker shunning traditional employment. Blending full-time, permanent employees with freelancers and creating a flexible workforce which is adaptable to business challenges and opportunities.
The gig economy has the ability to help small businesses address the skills shortages they face by accessing elusive talent pools and boosting productivity. The gig economy enables access to on-demand support in skills such as administration, accounting and consultancy. Connecting entrepreneurs with people who have skills and experience, that they might not have access to otherwise and providing a valuable opportunity to outsource.
Hiring freelancers gives small business owners the flexibility to manage the peaks and troughs of demand, as well as the ability to bring in someone who can hit the ground running during busy times. This type of employment offers a reliable and cost-effective route to specialist skills but also the opportunity to test run job positions before a permanent hire. Building relationships with seasoned freelancers can add value to a growing business as they can help to inject new ideas and scope out projects.
One of the biggest contributing factors to the increase in the gig economy, is the improved technology and services connecting employers to freelancers. As technology turns the traditional work structure on its head, we’re seeing even the smallest of businesses compete for the best freelancers. From video conferencing to virtual phone systems, these technologies are making it quicker and easier to collaborate with teams and freelancers on a project without physically being in the same room.
It’s important both parties communicate on a regular basis and understand each other’s schedules and workflows. Regardless of whether it’s a one-off project or a whole team of freelancers, productivity depends on having streamlined communications which can be facilitated by collaboration applications. Team collaboration can be handled easily with apps and software for sharing files, emails and calendars.