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THERE ARE ESTIMATED to be over 4 million Aussies working as freelancers. Of this, roughly 750,000 people work regular jobs but freelance on the side (which, needless to say, is a great way to break into freelancing while reducing your risk).
The number of freelancers in Australia has skyrocketed since the GFC, partly because of the overall reduction of the workforce; and partly because of the number of mature-aged workers staying in their jobs past the traditional retirement age.
These factors combined produced a bottleneck effect in the job market, which made it difficult for certain workers to advance their careers, while others, typically young graduates, struggled to gain a foothold in the job market at all.
The benefits to using people who also work other jobs
Millenials, or Generation Y (people born between the early 1980’s right up until the early 2000’s) have grown up with technology. I guess you could generalise that Gen Y’s are more suspicious of big business and the government than generations previous. They’re most likely to use the internet and other online tools to work remotely from their homes as full-time independent contractors, or to supplement their existing income with additional freelance work.
Looking for specific, additional or one-off services?
This means there’s great number of young, highly educated individuals eager to work on a contract or freelance basis — not to mention the huge number of mums also working as independent contractors — available to business owners. And there are plenty of businesses utilising freelancers, either to provide services directly to them or as a way to provide additional services to their clients; EzyLearn included.
Over the years, we’ve developed a network of talented individuals to provide services to us when we need them, with much success. (But the practice also gets some bad press because some businesses utilise independent contractors as if they were employees, without being responsible for paying any leave or superannuation entitlements.)
When is a freelancer right for your business?
Freelancers and independent contractors provide new and small businesses the opportunity to grow and expand quickly. For instance:
- Need a website but don’t have the skills — or the time — to build one yourself? Hire a freelance web developer.
- Need a bookkeeper to do your data entry and other account work once a month? Hire a home-based bookkeeper. Hire a freelance writer to blog for your business; a content marketing specialist, photographer, or virtual assistant.
There’s a long history of businesses using freelancers and independent contractors for one-off jobs, or if it’s ongoing, for small piecemeal work. But in the last 10 years or so, another trend emerged. Cooperative-type businesses, made up solely of freelancers that provide the full service experience of a big business to their clients, while each freelancer still has the freedom to work on other projects too.
It could be a content marketing firm that is able to provide SEO, web development, writing and strategy services to their clients, by subcontracting certain portions of the work out to their network of freelancers. This is an excellent way to start a small business and grow it quickly with very few overhead costs.
But it’s a model that’s also lent itself to abuse. Scores of entrepreneurs have been able to take their business ideas and test them in the real-world, without the need for seed funding because they’ve used freelance and contract workers. But sometimes those independent contractors should really be employees; if they’re not able to set their own hours, the place they work at, take on additional work, or if they derive all of their income from one client, then the business should be hiring employees, but that would require funding.
Business planning to know what you need
In Australia, there’s a reasonably demarcated line between what constitutes a contractor and an employee. Both the Fair Work Ombudsman and the ATO have checklists on their websites to help businesses and contractors determine what their responsibilities and entitlements are.
In a nutshell, though, if your business will require a certain number of employees to work for you on an ongoing basis, at your premises, and the work isn’t specialist services — i.e., content writing, web design, etc — you should look into employing part-time of casual staff.
This may require some form of start-up capital. If you or your business partner aren’t able to put up the capital you need, you should try and source it from a bank or other investor. Doing so, of course, requires a detailed business plan to show how you will use the capital investment and how you intend to derive a return on that investment.
As much as this may seem like daunting hard work, the work you put into creating a business plan — which we cover in our EzyStartUp Business Course — helps you to really analyse your business idea, and iron out any kinks or hiccups that you may not have first considered.
Freelancers work for themselves
It’s still a great time to start your own business, and utilising the great pool of freelance talent that’s currently available to help you on your way, is still the best ways to start a low-risk business without any seed funding. Remember, however, that freelancers and independent contractors don’t work for you; they work for themselves. So it may be unwise to rely on them long term to provide certain services to your clients and customers, if quality and dependability are a core selling point of your business.
Give thought to the future of your business by mapping out a Business Plan. Our EzyStartUp Business Course can help you write a Business Plan by analysing your idea and setting achievable goals for you and your business. Learn more by visiting our website or subscribing to our blog.
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