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Harnessing the Power of the Gig Economy: How Skilled Freelancers Can Boost Your Business Growth

The gig economy has made it easier than ever for skilled professionals to lease their talents out rather than settle in for forty years at one company. The freelancer gets the freedom of not being tied down to any single desk for too long, but what’s in it for the employer?

In a world where employee retention is an important buzzphrase, does it make sense to spend a lot of resources on day players? It turns out there are many situations where freelancers can help you, both in terms of scalability and overall growth and productivity. 

In this article, we take a look at how you grow your business with the help of the gig economy.

READ: Turn Your Part-Time Gig into a Full-Time Business

What is the gig economy?

Before we get too deep in the weeds here, what exactly is meant when someone references the gig economy? It’s a phrase that sounds peculiarly informal, particularly when framed in the context of growing an nurturing your business. 

Perhaps it calls to mind Uber, or Instacart, or any number of other jobs that allow people to work when they want, on their own terms. 

While freedom is part of the equation, casualness needn’t be. The recently dubbed “gig,” workers are simply freelancers. Many of them are highly skilled. Writers. Coders. Data analysts. Most jobs can be spun into a freelance capacity. All it takes is a skilled professional who decides that they want to work for themselves instead of a company. 

READ: Freelancers — How to Charge More For the Work You Do

The scalability question

Let’s say you own a marketing firm. You aren’t exactly Don Draper, but you’re doing well. So well, in fact, that your small in-house team of six — you call yourself a boutique agency — isn’t quite up to handling the workload on their own anymore.

Should you hire another full-time employee? Maybe. There are definitely situations where that will be the right move to make. But you don’t need a full-blown marketing analyst. Just someone who can turn a phrase to clean up some web copy and do social media captions. 

If you do hire a full-time employee they may wind up with days where they have a lot of time on their hands. Ahh, but there is a second option! You can pick up a writer who charges by the hour. Use her only as needed, and avoid the enormous costs of hiring someone that you simply don’t need as a full-time employee.

The scalability problem is that growing businesses need to find a way to balance their need to keep up with growing demand without forking over their increasing revenue for personnel and upkeep expenses. In other words, you need to figure out a way to grow and advance without being overwhelmed by increasing expenses. 

Freelancers can help you accomplish that. However, there are also many other benefits to tapping into the gig economy that are worth keeping in mind. 

READ: Batten Down the Hatches — Fine Tune Your Small Business Plan for Any Economic Environment

Freelancers fill out your skill gaps

Ok, so you still own a marketing firm. And good for you to keep it solvent from one heading to the next, by the way. For the last three years, you’ve focused mostly on web copy. However, a long-term customer recently decided to shoot a commercial and asked you to help.

It went well! You want to start including video and film within your services portfolio. However, you’re far from ready to need a full-time film and editing crew. Hire on anyway?

Of course not. Not when you could save a bundle by establishing a relationship with a freelance crew. There are tons of professional situations where you need a skill at one moment, but not so badly that you want to set up health insurance and a 401k to get it. 

The same could be said of any number of situations where you might need an analyst. For example, if you want to expand and grow your business, you may lease the services of a data analyst who can give you a good understanding of the current health of your business, and what moves you should make as you look to expand. 

Obviously, you probably don’t need the services of a full-time business analyst — though such positions do exist— but to pay for a few days, weeks, months, whatever, could be a very sensible investment. 

These days, finding someone with the skills you need is very easy to do, allowing you to vastly increase your access to skilled labor without the need to constantly create new jobs. 

How to hire a skilled freelancer

So, you’ve decided to tap into the gig economy to supercharge your business. What happens next? There are lots of ways to hire freelancers. Over time, you may establish relationships with a freelancer that allows you to access their talent as needed. For now, you need to find a way to meet them. 

READ: Hiring Freelancers? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you are new to the gig economy there are lots of platforms — Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, etc. — that make it easy to meet people. Platforms are a little more expensive because they usually have fees. However, they also add a little bit of safety to the equation, serving as a neutral third party that will help ensure you get the services you pay for. Freelancer platforms also allow you to view the freelancer’s work history, and verify their credentials. 

Many businesses are held back by their unfamiliarity with the gig economy. It’s hard to take that first step of hiring a person you’ve never met and probably never will meet to do something for your business. However, there’s a reason freelancing has grown in prominence in the last few years. 

It’s a dynamic that works well for everyone involved. So don’t wait. Use skilled freelancers to enhance and grow your business. 


Andrew Deen HeadshotAndrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in a number of industries from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.