It is a perplexing question for SMEs. When should I seek the advice or contract an outside freelancer to help my business get to the next growth phrase or give some independent thinking to an important decision? One of the most difficult transitions in any business is the phase where the company goes from three or four employees to double figures. The owner of the business - who has probably overseen every decision and signed off every invoice - now has to let go of his or her control, and empower employees to make decisions and take more responsibility.
It is not easy, but it will impede your business if it is starting to grow and you are expanding into fields that you are not an expert in, nor confident about the best way for your business to enter these new markets. While you may not want another business partner or don’t feel the need to hire someone full-time at your level to help the business develop, a freelancer might just help you on your way to expanding the business. These are some examples of when you might need one.
1. You are launching a new product or service that is a brand extension
Technically, you might have the new product and/or service completely under control, but where you might need some help is getting publicity or exposure into new markets. Which marketing channels should you use? How should you allocate your budget? How long should your campaign run for?
2. To gain clarity with a potential business decision
You might be unsure of where to take your business. Launch into new markets overseas? Expand within your existing country? Move to new premises? Re-brand? These decisions can become overwhelming and an outside expert who has no emotional attachment to the business can help give some objectivity to the impending decision.
3. To add specialist skills that you lack
There is no doubt that most small businesses aren’t experts in all the fields that they have to utilize to grow the business. It is impossible to be. If there is a specific area you feel the business is lacking and a short-term solution can put you on the right track to grow, consider seeking outside help.
4. To drive change
Changing the way you conduct both internal and external operations within a small business is never easy. People are conservative and don’t like change. An outside freelancer can give you the impetus that you need to improve productivity, streamline operations and gain efficiency.
5. Focus on core business
By engaging a freelancer to specifically deal with one aspect of the business, it allows existing management and staff to focus on their core tasks, ensuring that the business will still operate efficiently.
6. Train staff
An outside freelancer can help provide knowledge, insight, and training to existing staff to improve their skill set and thereby give management more confidence to empower them to move into new areas of the business.
If there is a burning issue within the company, an internal matter that you can’t decide on such as issues between the board and management or management and staff, then bringing in expert help should provide you with a viable option. Giving a freelancer a specific task to solve and having them present to you their decision, which is clearly outlined, will at least let you see the issue from someone else’s perspective.
Always think carefully before you engage a freelancer but just remember getting outside help could be the advantage you have been looking for and at a cost you can afford.