By nature, entrepreneurs and business owners tend to want to handle it all. That independent streak is part of the reason why working for yourself was more attractive than being someone’s employee. But now your business is expanding, and the workload is getting to be too much. You’re having to turn away work, you scramble to get projects done on time, and your team is starting to complain.
You don’t have the resources to commit to hiring more employees, but some extra help wouldn’t hurt. Your business could take on more projects and clients, and your staff could get the support they need. These are all signals that it may be time to bring independent contractors on board. Whether you start with one, a few, or a full roster, here are four signs your business is ready.
1. A Lack of In-House Resources
Your existing team members have a lot of skills. That’s why you hired them. And as a business owner, you’ve learned to master a lot of different responsibilities yourself. But in some cases, existing internal skill sets and knowledge may fall short. That’s where hiring a contractor, or 1099 worker, can be beneficial.
Maybe you want to up your advertising game, and your in-house creative team needs some help learning how to strategize. There may be times when having the skills of another graphic designer would allow you to take on more work. In other cases, an existing client might throw you a one-off request that would overtax your staff. The client may want a completely new website design that requires advanced training and skills your employees don’t have.
Sometimes a lack of in-house resources can translate to insufficient bandwidth. Your business might need some temporary assistance with bookkeeping or accounting paperwork because an employee is going on leave. Perhaps you need to answer customers’ calls after hours but can’t justify hiring additional customer service reps. Hiring contractors to fill in the gaps lets you meet operational needs or scale up to fulfill market demand.
2. Inconsistent Growth
If you notice the extra work requests you’re turning down are unpredictable, contractors versus additional employees may be the answer. That variability may come in the form of seasonal fluctuations or random overflow from your current clients. You may also notice some inconsistencies in the volume of new leads or inquiries.
Your business could be at the beginning of its growth stage. But without a plan or the resources to handle development opportunities, you can’t expand. When there’s a large degree of uncertainty surrounding your company’s growth, you don’t necessarily want to hire employees. What if they end up sitting idle because there’s a lack of anything substantial to do during non-peak times? You could find yourself paying unnecessary salaries and benefits.
A lack of adequate financial resources is one of the top reasons why businesses fail. With additional employees, payroll isn’t the only expense you’ll be increasing. You’ll need more workspace, computer equipment, software licenses, and office supplies. Independent contractors don’t require your business to incur these costs since you can hire them on a per-project basis. If the work is there, you’ll have the help. When it isn’t, you won’t be wasting overhead.
3. Top Performers Are Strained
There is a famous and inspirational quote by Richard Branson that states clients do not come first. Employees do. And like customers, team members sometimes leave your organization without really saying why.
Excessive workloads, unrealistic expectations, and stress are some of the main contributors to disengagement and turnover. However, not all employees will vocalize their frustration and dissatisfaction.
Some might communicate they need help in ways that are less than forceful or direct. You may need to learn to recognize signs, such as atypical mistakes. A top performer who usually doesn’t miss a beat suddenly overlooks a project’s major premise. An employee suddenly starts asking for more vacation time or begins missing critical deadlines. Another’s overall work performance begins to lag, they stop contributing to discussions, or they seem more irritable and less cooperative. Leaders tend to increase the tasks of top employees because they trust them to handle the work. But overtaxing the human resources you have now won’t produce the long-term results you want. If your team members are crying for help in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways, it’s time for contractors. You’ll lower the risk of burning out your staff and losing their talents.
4. Limited Local Talent Pools
You see an opportunity to expand your products and services or the scope of your market. However, you’ve got a major problem. A lack of talent beyond your local area.
Maybe you’ve had job openings posted for months but aren’t getting a lot of applicants. Perhaps the applicants you do get lack a crucial skill, a necessary credential, or a helpful amount of experience. Or candidates who move through the entire hiring process end up accepting offers with companies that pay more.
Businesses located in smaller communities sometimes face talent shortages like these unless they’re willing to hire remote or hybrid workers. Bringing independent contractors into the mix can help your company extend its available talent pool. You can tap into the skills of workers across the country or those outside the United States. You’ll get needed expertise without asking your team to overcompensate.
Contractors to the Rescue
When your business starts to show signs of growth, it’s tempting to try to power through using your standard M.O. You might think you and your employees can handle the extra work — until you all start showing symptoms of stress. Turning away projects is a temporary solution, but it can cost clients and prevent your business from realizing its potential.
Independent contractors will help you scale and handle your company’s expansion until it makes sense to hire more full-time staff. Look for signs it’s time, such as a lack of internal resources and bandwidth, fluctuating demands, and limited local talent. With contractors on board, your business can tackle additional work without jeopardizing the resources it needs to stay afloat.