In today's ever-changing marketplace, being lean and agile could mean the difference between becoming a booming business or being forced to close your doors. One of the fastest-growing trends enabling companies to become lean is hiring freelancers as opposed to full-time employees. According to CareerBuilder, employers who are seeking short-term, contract workers increased a whopping 47 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Yet, like everything in business and in life, there are pros and cons to hiring freelancers. By taking the time to do your homework, you could save yourself loads of time, money and headaches.

Here are seven pros and cons when it comes to hiring freelancers.

Pros

1. The Price

One of the greatest benefits to hiring freelancers is, of course, the price. Not only with salary, but also with other costs such as health insurance, company perks, desk space taken up in the office and more. 

2. Lower Financial Risk

Entrepreneurs only need to hire and pay freelancers when there's work to be done. Almost all freelancing is done on an hourly or a project-by-project basis, so you'll never have to worry about digging yourself in a hole financially in terms of payroll during "down times". From a financial point of view, this makes hiring freelancers less of a risk for entrepreneurs than full-time employees.

3. Freelancing Platforms Make Hiring Freelancers Easier Than Ever

With platforms like Freelancer.com, Upwork and Thumbtack on the rise, hiring freelancers has gone from being a painstaking process to a relatively speedy one. By streamlining the process of posting job offers for freelancers, sifting through candidates, selecting the best fit and paying them for their work, these platforms can save an entrepreneur precious time they can funnel back into their business. 

Additionally, much like Yelp does for businesses, these platforms also allow you to see reviews and the job history for freelancers so you're not taking complete a stab in the dark. Although, in my own experience with hiring freelancers, many of the reviews have been a bit more generous than their work reflected. Nonetheless, it helps to be able to differentiate a scrub from an all star.

Cons

Hiring a freelancer isn't all butterflies and roses though. While it's easy to see the positive benefits of hiring contract workers, there are many cons that exist.

1. Lack of Supervision

Given most freelancing is done remotely, there's truly no way to know whether or not 2 of those 10 hours your freelancer billed were spent working hard or scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos. This isn't to say all, or even most, freelancers do this, but without supervision, immediate motivation often takes a backseat to leisure.

2. Unpredictable Quality of Work

Because one of the main advantages to hiring freelancers is the speed, an extensive, thorough interview process to vet freelancers doesn't tend to take place for entrepreneurs. As a result, a freelancer's resume and portfolio are sometimes breezed through by whoever is in charge of hiring and onboarding them relative to the immense amount of time dedicated to ensuring a potential full-time hire is a good fit or not. 

3. Lower Investment in the Company

Freelancers have bills to pay just like you do, so thinking you're their only client would be similar to thinking your waitress is only working her shift tonight to serve your table.

Almost all freelancers are juggling multiple projects at once, so their loyalty to your brand is probably lower than a full-time employee who's sporting company tshirts, stickers and other gaudy swag. While this isn't necessarily a "make or break", it is something to consider depending on the project you're hiring the freelancer for.

4. Lack of Ability to Train a Freelancer

Every company is different. As a business owner, you know better than anybody there are nuances to your company that only could be figured out by working at the company. By not having the ability to properly train and onboard a freelancer, they may be missing out on crucial details which may be seen as second nature to a full-time employee. Of course, the remedy to this is building extensive, scalable systems your company follows religiously, but that's the topic for another article. 

Freelancers can be an extremely valuable asset for entrepreneurs, particularly those who are in the early stages of development or those running on a tight budget. That being said, just like any other business decision, you should do your homework and think critically before jumping head first into the freelance economy. Best of luck.

Published on: Mar 20, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.