Okay, we’ve started the ball rolling on this website with the controversial claim that entrepreneurs should only hire freelancers…
…that you have to hire the best. … and hiring the best means you have to offer the full time employment – the best package – a full time employment contract and for CEO’s golden handshakes to welcome them and golden parachutes should they fail, share options if they don’t etc.
And therefore, you might think, if I don’t offer a full employment contract why would they ever leave their current employment to join my organisation?
Let me be blunt about this. This is rubbish. People will join your organisation mainly for the opportunity and excitement you offer – much less for the terms of a contract.
Here are six reasons why freelancers are better than employees;
Firstly, freelancing and contracting is more fun and the freelancer earns more money. The freelancer gains by being treated as an equal – they are in business too – albeit for themselves and the relationship between you and the freelancer is a much more grown up one. No longer do freelancers expect you to provide for them – as a parent might to a child – instead, it is a relationship of equals. This benefits the person hiring the freelancer just as it benefits the freelancer him or herself.
Second, freelancing and contracting allows your team to work on projects in natural bursts. It is more like going to college, you work hard or very hard for 10 or 12 weeks to reach a goal or set objectives in that term or timester. Then you take a break. I haven’t seen any studies, but I believe you could argue that it is more natural for us to work like this than to be expected to work week in and week out. Thinking about this a bit more, our ancestors used to work according to the seasons and this required short bursts of activity – sowing and harvesting being the busiest times.
Thirdly, in the UK and European countries the first 6 months of a new job are pretty tenuous anyway as they just offer 1 weeks notice. When taking on a contractor you can offer 1 month notice for the first 6 months. This is a great deal for the contractor as they actually have far greater certainty (ie a month) than if they have a full time employment contract. The point about the contractual structure is that you don’t offer one month notice for ever and you don’t allow it be silently become two months or three months or six months as they spend more time in your organisation. This will make a considerable difference if some relocation is required.
Fourthly, freelancers who leave your organisation can and do come back – if they enjoyed their work with you – and often come back more motivated and with a fresh set of ideas. This is great for both the freelancer and for your business.
Fifthly, not all brilliant candidates will fit your company culture. Think of football. How many times does a great manager turn down the offer of a great player because the great player wouldn’t fit into the team? It happens all the time. You are looking to fill roles in your company, that doesn’t mean you want the best player, you want the best fit.
Sixthly, men (or women) are as their times are. This is a line from Shakespear when a young soldier complains when he is told to carry out a contract killing. His Sargent replies that he should go and do it for ‘men are as their times are’. Often your ‘good’ people in a high growth company will become your ‘bad’ people in a sudden slow down. This isn’t because they have changed, only your company circumstances have changed and their motivations within the company and those circumstances may have changed out of all recognition.
A freelance or contractual structure allows you to let them go quickly and without fuss. The cleanness of the parting of the waves is actually a lot less controversial than you might think and allows you to rebuild the relationship with them later on, should conditions improve.
At the end of the day, you are looking for the best fit for the role you have now. If you markets and products change, the role may well change. If you switch from high growth to low growth or a sharp decline, most of your people won’t fit any more no matter how good they were in the first place.
Lastly, if you have decided on an entrepreneurial structure then you need the best fit with that – enterprising people. And I can guarantee you they will not be standard employees looking for the apparent security of a standard employment contact, as that is the last thing either you or they want.