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Worried about hiring your first employee? Why a freelancer is a good first step


It's a scary jump going from sole trader to employer, but hiring a freelancer can be a safe stepping stone.

This guide is sponsored by Fiverr. Browse gigs from over 100,000 freelancers or get access to a tailored catalogue of verified talent, to find the perfect match for your business. Plus, get protected payments and 24/7 support. Learn more.

So you started your own business and it's booming, great. But what happens when you become overwhelmed with work or come across something you just can't do?

Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are turning to freelancers as a solution. According to Fiverr, more than 3.5 million users hired a freelancer through the platform in 2020.

So what's behind the popularity? To find out, we spoke with small business experts and freelance-lovers to find out what the hype is all about.

You can hire by project or period

Whether you've suddenly won a big client, have to deliver a huge project on a tight deadline, or have simply seen a surprise influx of sales, taking on temporary freelancers can get you through the busy stretch without the financial commitment of a full-time employee.

Karen Maloney has been running her own businesses since 2007. For the majority of that time, she's used freelancers to deliver client work and support the business internally.

"For me, one of the biggest benefits of hiring freelancers has been the flexibility to upsize or downsize my team as suits my business needs," she told Finder.

"My first business won 11 awards here and overseas for industry excellence and my entire team then was purely freelancers."

You don't have to waste time recruiting

Finding the right person for your business can take a long time and cost a lot of money. In fact, a 2020 report by HR software firm ELMO found that it takes an average of 33 days to hire an employee, at an average cost of $10,500. Ouch.

According to Maloney, freelancing platforms do a lot of this hard work for you.

"I can see information and reviews about the freelancer, which helps me decide if they are the right person for the job and to work with my business," she told Finder.

"Good platforms attract good freelancers, which saves me a lot of time, effort and money sourcing great people to work with," she added.

Some platforms also offer quality assurance and vetting for highly-skilled freelancers. For example, Fiverr offers a 'Pro' feature' which connects businesses with verified talent.

You can hire for specific skills

Few small businesses can hire a permanent employee who is highly skilled in a niche area. It costs too much and there probably won't be enough work for them.

This is why business advisor Jacob Aldrige regularly encourages his clients to hire freelancers. You can access highly-skilled workers while only paying for what you actually use.

"With great freelancers and consultants, you pay for the work you need and can access skills that you may not otherwise be able to afford," Aldrige told Finder.

You're not limited by working hours

Usually, employees want set working hours that are social in nature. But freelancing platforms can connect business owners with skilled talent all over the world and across every time zone.

"I use freelancing platforms almost daily because there is always someone, somewhere online who can help me in the moment I need it," said Maloney.

You can save on wages

Hiring an on-shore freelancer lets you avoid extra expenses such as workers compensation and annual leave, but it can be even cheaper if you find an international freelancer.

With the strong Australian dollar and low international wages, businesses can outsource everyday tasks to save time and money.

Giving it a go

For businesses or sole traders that have never hired before, freelancing is a lower-risk place to start and could even bring greater business benefits.

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