For as long as freelancers have existed, they have shared a mutually beneficial relationship with businesses, each helping the other to grow. As of late, however, the internet has helped to explode this relatively small freelancer community into an entire gig economy and the benefits of small business owners has only own grown as a result. Here, we’re going to explore seven of the ways that the gig economy can benefit your small business.
You can’t talk about working alongside the gig economy without considering the real financial benefits it has to your business. First of all, you have none of the overheads that come with housing and providing for a freelancer. You don’t have to pay taxes, workers’ compensation, or many of the other costs that employers are financially responsible for. Well qualified freelancers will charge you more per hour than the average employee, but when you also cut out the costs of the recruitment process, it’s still likely to be more cost-effective.
The internet is undoubtedly the catalyst of the now booming gig economy. What the internet also brings is faster, easier access to labor, both menial and specialized, that saves a lot of time and effort when you need some with the right skills on your team. Some due diligence may still be necessary to ensure you’re partnering with someone who has a proven track record of providing the kind of work that you need, but by relying on LinkedIn groups, freelancer networks, and other online records, you’re cutting the time that you would take interviewing and skill-testing new inhouse staff. As such, when you need access to skilled labor, you can find it much more quickly.
Though a lot of focus on the gig economy in press talks about the rise of gig-driven business models like Uber, Lyft, and Deliveroo, it’s actually a much more diverse landscape than that. You can find creatives, web developers, tech experts, accountants, virtual assistants, and even legal services in the gig economy, amongst many others. As such, small businesses can find specific kinds of labor much more easily than before, allowing them to take on a broader range of projects without having to permanently hire anyone. You’re not going to want a web designer employed on a permanent basis, but the gig economy has made it much easier to find one as soon as you need them, then to go your separate ways when they’re finished.
The speed, ease, and low cost of working with people through the gig economy also means a much more flexible business. You can quickly respond to new demands and implement new projects without having to go through the lengthy process of hiring. As such, this flexibility can especially help growing businesses who are getting used to a seasonal market. All too often, small business owners fail to account for seasonality, and find themselves with more employees than they need through the slower parts of the year. With the gig economy, you can find those temporary team members to bolster your team when you need them, without having to worry about needing to let them go when things calm back down again.
Seasonality isn’t the only factor that makes flexibility so valuable, either. Just as the online world has made it easier for self-employed freelancers to find their place in the market, it has also made it a lot easier for small businesses to experience rapid growth when they suddenly found they have “made it.” However, scaling isn’t easy, and is a leading contributing factor in businesses that fail to make it past the two-year mark. Either business owners invest too much and fail to scale in a way that can cover their new costs, or they don’t invest enough, and their business can’t cope with increased demand. The gig economy allows you scale more rapidly, without having to invest too much, too soon, which can improve your chances of handling rapid growth safely.
Let’s not forget that the gig economy is a worldwide economy. You can tap into labor from across the world, which is becoming more and more important as the internet makes it easier to have a global reach. One of the examples of the worldwide reach of the gig economy being helpful is how hardware and software providers can use freelancing technicians to provide field services, allowing them to provide on-site assistance and support that they may be otherwise unable to, because the client’s premises are simply too far away from them. You can source your temporary workers from anywhere in the world with the gig economy, which can make expanding internationally all the easier to achieve.
The gig economy isn’t solely about finding freelancers who provide specialist services, either. There are plenty of admin assistants, receptionists, and those who can take on the duties that might feel like busywork to someone who has more profitable processes that they could be performing. The gig economy makes it much easier to quickly find the temporary workers you need to handle some of the work on your plate, so you can focus on the core processes that are more likely to make you money. If your plate is consistently too full, then hiring a permanent employee to delegate some of your duties to may be wise, but for those occasions when you have more than you can handle on a temporary basis, finding a freelancer can be much more reliable and convenient.
The gig economy is an asset that small businesses can utilize and the benefits above show you just some of the reasons that you should consider it. The role of freelancers in businesses of all sizes is likely to keep growing as more and more people turn to self-employed work and thriving relationships between them and small businesses can help us all grow.