Staffing Digital Projects: Weighing the Options for Small Businesses
Staffing digital projects is a major challenge for small business owners who struggle to afford the highly skilled help they need to execute website redesigns, cybersecurity analyses, content marketing campaigns, and other web-based projects.
Faced with tight budgets and an even tighter labor market, small businesses have to decide between hiring permanent staff to manage their digital projects, which can be costly and difficult, or outsourcing projects to contractors, which requires giving up control.
The right choice for any business depends on a number of factors. If you’re in search of talent for your small business’s digital projects, this guide will help you decide the best way to access the skilled help you need.
Why hire internal talent?
Hiring in-house talent has a lot of benefits for small business owners. When hiring a permanent team member, businesses not only gain access to the worker’s existing skillset, but also the ability to train new hires to meet future labor needs. Using in-house talent also means that, should issues arise in the future, tech support is just a few offices away.
Despite the benefits, hiring in-house help for every digital project simply isn’t practical. Highly skilled labor is competitive, and often a small business’s high-tech labor needs aren’t high enough to warrant full-time, year-round staff.
When businesses choose to outsource, they relinquish a certain level of control over their digital projects. Reputable contractors, of course, work hard to meet their clients’ needs. However, IRS rules mandate that independent contractors are allowed a certain degree of autonomy, including the ability to set their own work hours and location.
Failing to adhere to these rules could mean relinquishing one of the top benefits of outsourcing: cost savings. Since businesses aren’t required to pay employment taxes or benefits to independent contractors, outsourcing is a budget-friendly solution to small business staffing needs. However, businesses that treat freelancers like employees also have to pay them like employees.
Outsourcing also lets small businesses easily meet temporary labor needs. Most employees aren’t looking for temporary assignments, but freelancers happily accept work that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few months. The flipside, however, is that most freelancers work for several clients, and no single project receives their full attention.
Creative solutions for high-tech labor needs
Full-time, permanent staff and temporary freelance help aren’t the only options for staffing digital projects. Budget-minded business owners can find creative solutions to meet their business’s labor needs without straining their bottom line.
One underutilized option is part-time help. A small business on a limited budget may find it easier to afford part-time help over full-time staff, even if that means waiting longer for a finished product.
Part-time help comes in a variety of formats, from internal talent working on a part-time basis to gig economy workers who can be hired on-demand. While job boards are still the place to find permanent part-time staff, gig economy apps are better for hiring freelancers, no matter how big or small the project. These apps offer a wide range of prospective candidates, and some of these candidates are even screen beforehand.
Small business owners should be wary of going too cheap on freelance help, however. While it’s possible to find highly skilled workers at fair prices, prices far below market rate usually mean a subpar product.
When affording qualified help is a challenge, businesses should consider other places to cut costs. Simple tasks that can be automated are an easy place to start. A business that inputs receipts by hand can use a point-of-sale system that integrates with accounting tools to automatically record sales. Or an appointment-based business can employ an appointment management system to reduce the labor involved in booking and payments and even increase reservations by making it easier to book online.
Small business hiring decisions don’t happen in a silo. Whether hiring permanent IT help or freelancers for short-term projects, small business owners have to balance their company’s staffing needs with broader budgetary considerations. While hiring skilled help may require cutting back in other areas, your business will be better off with quality talent on its team.