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Staff Up Smart: How SMEs Can Hire Freelancers for Success 

Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes

Sean Owusu , 23 April, 2024

An introduction to freelancing 

In simple terms, a freelancer is a self-employed individual who earns money on a per-job basis. Freelancers may work for a variety of clients, often over a short period of time for multiple clients. 

In the modern world, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly turning to freelancers as a strategic solution to deal with economic uncertainty and financial constraints. With a staggering 65% of SME owners embracing freelanced talent, it is becoming evident that the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of hiring on a per-job basis is more compelling compared to traditional employment routes. 

Why SMEs Are Choosing Freelancers? 


As hinted in the introduction, budget constraints and the ongoing cost of living crisis are making it hard for enterprises wishing to grow their team. 

Unlike full-time employees, freelancers represent a highly cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for paid holidays, benefits, and other associated with permanent staff. Furthermore, freelancers do not require workspace or equipment, which are often significant expenses for small businesses. By hiring freelancers, SMEs can access specialised skills without the commitment of a full-time salary, making it a well-advised choice in modern times. 

Access to Specialised Skills 

One of the biggest advantages of hiring freelancers is immediate access to expert skills and knowledge. Consider the scenario where your business needs an update to its website but doesn’t require a full-time web developer. Freelancers step into this gap, offering their expertise on a project basis. This approach provides SMEs with professional services tailored to specific needs while also avoiding the expense and commitment of adding a permanent employee to the payroll. 

Employee Relief 

SMEs typically operate with lean teams, where staff members can often find themselves juggling multiple roles. When teams are pushed beyond their limits, increased rates of burnout and floundering productivity can emerge as side effects. Freelancers can reduce the likelihood of this happening by taking on overflow tasks or managing entire projects, freeing up your core team to focus on what they do best. This optimises your workforce’s efficiency and enhances job satisfaction among your permanent staff by allowing them to focus on their primary responsibilities without the added stress of unfamiliar tasks. 

Benefits of Freelancers for SMEs 


Running a small business means things can get hectic. Your needs change, workloads fluctuate, and sometimes you just need extra help. That’s where freelancers come in. They thrive on adapting to changing environments. Need a boost during busy seasons? Freelancers can scale their involvement up to match your demand. Business a little slow? They can scale back without any fixed costs for your business. This flexibility is a lifesaver for SMEs, allowing you to have a workforce that adjusts as needed without the burden of full-time salaries. 

Global Talent Pool 

Remember that feeling of finding the perfect person for your project, only to discover they live oceans away? Thanks to remote work, that’s no longer a concern. Freelancers can be located anywhere, giving you access to a global talent pool. But the benefits go way beyond just convenience. A global team brings a wealth of diversity to your skillset. You get fresh perspectives, new ideas, and the potential for serious innovation. Plus, with freelancers scattered across the globe, you can keep your project moving 24/7. Different time zones mean increased responsiveness and a constant flow of progress, boosting your overall productivity. 

Key Considerations When Hiring Freelancers 

Defining Needs and Expectations 

Before jumping into the freelance market, SMES must define what they are looking for. This involves understanding the scope of the project, the specific skills required, and the time commitment needed from a freelancer. Clear definitions will help streamline the hiring process, ensuring that you attract the right talent for your business needs. 


Financial planning cannot be overlooked when hiring freelancers. It’s important to research and understand the going rates for the services you require. Setting a realistic budget will not only help narrow down your options but also set clear expectations, which can prevent future disputes and ensure a fair working relationship. 

By understanding these foundational elements, SMEs can leverage the freelance economy to their advantage, enhancing their operational flexibility and accessing a broad spectrum of skills and talents. As we continue, we’ll explore further practical steps and legal considerations to ensure that your journey into the world of freelancing is as smooth and productive as possible. 

Assessing Experience 

When selecting a freelancer, it’s not just about finding someone within your budget; it’s crucial to consider their specific experience and expertise. Freelancers often specialise in niche areas, bringing a depth of knowledge that can be pivotal for project-specific tasks or industry-specific challenges. Evaluating a freelancer’s portfolio and previous work samples is essential to ensure their skills align with your project requirements. This targeted approach helps in leveraging their experience for maximum impact within your operations. 

Reading Reviews and Feedback 

Transparency is golden. Before finalising your choice, dig into reviews and feedback from past clients. These can reveal a lot about a freelancer’s reliability, work ethic, and the quality of their work. Platforms hosting freelancers often feature client reviews, a valuable resource for gauging potential hires. Positive feedback from similar businesses can boost your confidence, while any red flags might warrant a closer look. 

Contractual Agreements 

A clear and comprehensive contract is crucial. This document outlines everything from project specifics and deadlines to payment terms and confidentiality (if needed). A well-defined contract sets the professional tone and protects both you and the freelancer from misunderstandings or disputes. Getting everything documented legally helps ensure a smooth and mutually beneficial working relationship. 

Legal Considerations 

Employment Rights for Freelancers 

Remember, freelancers aren’t full-time employees, but they do have certain rights. Understanding these legal protections, like those against discrimination and ensuring a safe work environment, is vital for ethical and legal business practices. Especially when working with a global talent pool, ensure your contracts comply with all relevant local and international laws. 

Maximising the Freelancer Relationship 

Setting Clear Briefs and Expectations 

To maximise the productivity and output of freelancers, it’s essential to start with a clear and detailed brief. This document should outline all aspects of the project, including expectations for milestones, feedback mechanisms, and final deliverables. A comprehensive brief serves as a roadmap for the engagement and helps ensure that all parties are aligned from the outset. 

Maintaining Communication 

Effective communication is the backbone of any successful freelancer relationship. Regular updates, scheduled check-ins, and open lines of communication help keep projects on track and build a strong working rapport. Encouraging open dialogue and providing constructive feedback can also enhance the quality of the work and foster a positive collaborative environment. 

Closing thoughts 

The world of work is changing, and SMEs are at the forefront of this shift. Hiring freelancers unlocks a treasure trove of benefits: flexibility to adapt to your needs, access to specialised skills, and a boost in productivity – all without the burden of full-time staffing. 

The key to success lies in integrating freelancers strategically. Careful selection, clear contracts, and strong communication are the cornerstones of a successful freelance partnership. By building a team that blends permanent staff with freelance expertise, you create a workforce that’s both resilient and adaptable, ready to tackle any challenge. 

If you’re ready to unlock the potential of freelancers, Nucleus can help. If additional funding is needed to bring skilled talent on board, apply for a loan today. The right freelancer could be just what you need to take your business to new heights, faster than ever imagined! 

BY Sean Owusu




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