It’s not uncommon to experience some nervousness when engaging an independent contractor for the first time. Whether you have fears about the quality of the final product, what it’ll cost, or productive use of time and resources, it can be hard to trust someone you’ve never worked with before.
Luckily, independent contractors provide a number of benefits—including specialized expertise, staffing flexibility, and cost savings—that can quickly outweigh any concerns. Here are five common doubts you may encounter along with ways to overcome them.
You may have reservations about the financial aspect of engaging an independent contractor, fearing that it might be more expensive than hiring an employee. However, independents are typically very cost-effective resources because they are experts in their fields, which can save you time and money on training, onboarding, and management.
Additionally, most independents will have a set bill rate and work with you one-on-one to deliver a carefully crafted proposal that will define the scope, methodology, and requirements of the project. This way, you’ll know exactly how long the project will take and what you can expect it to cost.
Lastly, unlike an employee receiving an annual salary on a permanent basis, you’ll only pay an independent contractor for the duration of the project. By engaging an independent, you’ll avoid employee expenses such as health insurance, retirement fund matching, and taxes.
Making the decision to put an important project in the hands of an independent contractor rather than a company employee is likely to cause some stress. Reassure any concerns you have by taking the time to thoroughly review the independent contractor’s resume, portfolio, and past client reviews. Inquire about past projects they’ve completed that may be similar to the type of work you’re looking for, ask detailed questions, and voice any concerns you have upfront.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a list of references that you can contact as well. This will help assure you of the independent contractor’s experience and assuage any questions regarding their reputation and reliability.
Because engaging an independent contractor is generally done on a temporary basis, you may be concerned about potential conflicts of interest or the sharing of information with concurrent or future clients. If this is a concern of yours, include a clause in your written contract regarding rules around ownership of intellectual property or confidential information such as financial data, business plans, and trade secrets.
Many independent contractors will work from home or from a coworking facility, which can spark concerns about availability and communication. Before the project starts, meet with the independent contractor to outline a communication plan to ensure you are on the same page regarding how and when to contact one another, how project progress will be communicated, and how deliverables will be handled.
Remember, unlike an employee, an independent contractor is responsible for fulfilling duties outlined in their contract rather than simply putting in 9-to-5 hours. Avoid the desire to over-supervise; independents typically have flexible schedules and will be able to work with you to create a mutually beneficial process.
Putting your project in the hands of someone who is not an employee of your company and who is not already a part of your work culture and style can feel strange at first. However, this can actually be a benefit rather than a drawback. Someone from outside your company often brings in a fresh set of eyes and unbiased ideas. Independent contractors can provide objectivity and a new perspective that someone within your company may not have, giving you the opportunity to bring new, creative ideas to the table.
Do you have any other questions or concerns about engaging independent contractors? We’re here to help answer your questions!
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News and notes for independent professionals and their clients. This is the October 9, 2017 edition.