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Top 5 Tips for Scaling Up Your Freelance Business

Amy M. Bergman, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, President, Insight HRM

Are you holding back your freelance business from scaling up to the size and scope you want it to be?

If you’ve been operating as a freelancer and have maxed out your capacity to take on additional work then you are your greatest asset and your main bottleneck!  If you want to continue to grow your business, it may be time to consider hiring professionals to compliment your own skills.  Here are 5 key tips to hep you transition from an overworked freelancer to a healthy business owner.

  1. Assess. Reflect upon where your strengths are in your business.  Are you doing operational tasks that need to get done but are not the highest and best use of your time?  These would be tasks such as administrative, marketing, sales, etc.  If you’re greatest contributions are in the execution of the billable work then consider contracting out or hiring staff to complete the other operational functions.  If you are best at the operational functions, then it’s time to consider other subject matter experts (contract or W2) to execute the billable work.
  2. Plan. You may not have enough work to support a full-time employee right out of the gate.  You can plan for your scaling up by estimating how many hours of help you will need as you are bringing on more billable work; then, create a staffing strategy that could include contractors, part-time employees or a mix of both.
  3. Execute. Once you know what you need from a talent and time perspective, you are ready to execute a staffing plan.  You can do it on your own through attracting candidates and working a selection process or you can contract this out to an HR firm to assist you.  See also, “Recruiting & Selection in a Virtual World”.  Keep in mind that the labor market is hot right now and you have to move quickly to hire an interested candidate before they are hired elsewhere.
  4. Monitor and adjust. Once you have your contractors and/or employees on board, it’s important to lay out the expectations for performance, productivity, communication and feedback; as well as providing ongoing coaching, feedback, recognition, gratitude and accountability to them.  As the business needs change, revisit steps 1 and 2.
  5. Ongoing HR compliance. Once you have employees, you have a new set of employment-related regulations you must follow.  Local, State and Federal employment laws apply to businesses with as few as 1 employee.  Often times business owners find themselves in a pickle assuming that several rules don’t apply to them due to being a small employer; however, most of the pressing rules regarding compensation and discrimination apply to even the smallest employers.

Subcontracting operational functions is a great way to step into scaling your business without the risk of hiring a W2 employee at first.  Much like you support other businesses as a freelancer, you can build your business by contracting out some of the tasks that prevent you from growing.  Sometimes having another professional to talk strategy with in the assessing and planning stages is helpful to identify options that you may not see.  It’s the old adage, “you can’t see the forest through the trees.”

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Amy Bergman is the President of Insight HRM, LLC. She has an array of HR experience in Consulting, Career Coaching, Municipal Government, Non-Profit Organizations, Entrepreneurs, Retail, Manufacturing, Health and the Financial Services industries.  Amy’s role is providing strategic HR solutions for a variety of organizations, as well as career coaching for individuals and entrepreneurs.

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Jonathan Medows, CPA

Jonathan Medows is a certified public accountant licensed in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is also a recognized expert in taxation for freelancers and the self-employed—often tapped for his expert knowledge and perspective on self-employment taxation by national and regional publications such as The New York Post, BusinessWeek, Forbes taxation blog, WebCPA, CPA Practice Advisor, and others. You can read some of Jonathan’s press coverage here.

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