I will include things to consider before deciding what kind of employment relationship you want and where to find people once you’ve decided.
A full 30% of the US workforce (or 42 million people) fall into the freelance or independent category. That doesn’t include the millions, if not billions of overseas workers who are just an email away.
Freelance and Independent contractors are changing the face of employment.
These individuals are usually experienced and ready to go. Some of them have a full-time job and do this on the side, and others treat this as their job or business.
I use freelancers for a large number of my projects and ongoing support. I have found that the ability to ramp up and wind down based on my business needs helps me run a lean and profitable business.
What you should know:
- They will be paid as a vendor to your company, you will have no payroll tax liability, unemployment insurance, etc.
- You can find people who are interested in project work, or who want a long-term relationship.
- You will get better results if you’re clear on what you need to get done, how you want it done, and when you need it done by.
Make sure your relationship is truly an independent contractor relationship. Typically, this means they do a similar type of work for other companies. The IRS has a list of questions online you can use to clarify if someone would be considered an employee or an independent contractor. These are the parameters they will use if you get audited for payroll liability.
It is a good plan to review them to educate yourself.
You can find freelance or independent contractors on a large number of websites. Some that have yielded good results are Craigslist, Fiverr, guru.com, odesk and elance.
Websites like GetFriday, TasksEveryDay, and Brickwork are focused on off shore virtual assistant options. Usually, they’re significantly less expensive than a traditional employee. I’ve used Chris Ducker’s service Virtual Staff Finder to find talented off shore VA’s in the past.
You can and should still interview freelance or independent providers to be sure there is a synergy and good communication. You should also start with a small and ideally non-crucial project, so you can get a true understanding of their skills and abilities without making any major commitments.
Cheap is not always the best option. There are many companies offering you low-cost virtual assistants based in India, the Philippines, and other developing countries. Some of them are talented and an amazing deal. Other ones are just a time-consuming headache.
If you want to hire a full time, long term Virtual Assistant (VA), you should check out Virtual Staff Finder – it was a great service (and as a recruiter, I am pretty picky about recruiting services!)
If you aren’t absolutely sure on the direction you want to go, wait until you have a clear strategy and plan in mind. It’s expensive for you and frustrating for the contractor to go in circles or change directions every few days or weeks.
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