For the second time this month, I received a call from a fellow small business owner asking me how to respond to a recent job offer. In both cases, what started out as a contractual service relationship evolved into an opportunity for the larger organization to grab a hold of top talent and for a service provider to grab a hold of full-time employment.
Would you hire someone that has a consulting or freelancing business on the side?
In the past, many employers would say “No way!” After all, if that person is focused on their own business, they won’t be focused on mine...right? Wrong.
There are huge benefits to hiring marketers, copywriters, designers, SEO experts, analysts and other professional freelancers while they continue to run their own freelancing business on the side. Here are just a few.
1. They have their own established brand
This is perhaps the biggest mind-shift employers will have to make. Hiring an expert in a field will bring additional value to your brand. One manufacturer actually hired a reigning beauty pageant winner as an international sales rep for her region because it brought visibility for their brand.
2. They come as pre-selected and pre-approved experts
They have clients that have chosen them for something—in fact, it’s probably the same reason you’ve chosen them. Having them engaged on other client projects (during their own time, of course) will bring new ideas to you.
3. They are current on the hot trends and technology
Having an active freelancer as an actual employee guarantees that this person hasn’t stopped and will not stop learning and applying the latest in methods and technology that are in their field—as opposed to employees who only work for you and don’t really have a need to exploring new things because they are currently not required.
4. They are great time managers
If you have a person on your staff that has clients to take care of when they are not working for you—you’d better believe they will get the most out of their work day with you. They are more likely to be focused just on your projects during the time that they are with you—so that they can focus on their other clients when they are on their own time.
5. They can serve as a new client farm
Most freelancers and consultants service companies that might be too small to be your customers. Instead of viewing them as a competitor, consider them part of your “farm team” where they guide and develop customers to a point where your larger organization can take over.
The economy has changed. The market has changed. Our assumptions need to change too.
A Kauffman Foundation report says that over half a million people go into business for themselves each month. And since over 20 million small businesses have no employees, they become easy targets for larger organizations looking to add top talent to their team.
If you are considering adding an entrepreneur as a full time employee, you want to be sensitive to the fact that they are very protective of their brand and their future. Instead of treating them as an employee, consider the relationships more like a merger or joint venture and explore the many creative ways that you can create a relationship that’s a win-win for you, the entrepreneur and their customers.