After going it alone for awhile, there comes a time when every entrepreneur needs to start hiring muscle to move their company forward. Depending on the number of projects you have and their complexity, turning to quality independent contractors is often a go-to choice for startups, especially in a place like Idaho, where there remains a problematic gap between education and opportunity. As business picks up, and as innovations materialize, you have to make a big decision: Do you begin creating your dream team of full-time employees, or do you cycle through independent contractors to nurture the growth of your operation?
If you’re not sure whether independent contractors are the way to go, consider a few pros and cons to contract workers.
Pros of hiring an independent contractor:
- Work that’s right for right now. When you find independent contractors, you find people who can get the job done in a way that is appropriate for how your company operates at the current point in time. If your business is still very much a work in progress, hiring a contracted worker to meet the needs of the changing company means you can easily and painlessly move on if and when that direction changes in a few months.
- Efficiency and quality. Since independent contractors will often sign on to a 6 or 12 month contract, these workers are known to work efficiently to make sure they get the job done before they begin work for another company. Ideally, they’ll have experience working for different types of businesses, and will be interested in strengthening that portfolio further with the quality work they do for you.
- Less paper pushing. You won’t have to pay benefits to the specialist doing contract work for you, meaning you’ll have more time and money to put back into your business. You’ll usually pay a contractor more per hour than you would an employee, but there will be a lot less paperwork or overhead involved.
Cons to hiring an independent contractor:
- The relationship isn’t ideal. Since your business is evolving, it helps to have people who truly understand your mission and want to pursue it with you. Because they’re less entwined with the company, a contractor will often be less invested in that mission, and perhaps less willing to give it their all. Without that sense of teamwork, a contracted worker has a smaller, more personally-driven focus, and may not always come through when you need them most.
- Less oversight and control over the final product. Independent contractors are just that — independent. You’ll have less of a say in the work that they produce (and how they produce it), and you’ll have to trust them with the project you assign. For some CEOs, staying hands-off can be easier said than done, so if you want to be more closely involved in the work that’s being done, independent contractors may not be the way to go.
- A high hourly wage. Of course, you must think about your budget. As mentioned before, you aren’t required to offer a 401k or health plan to an independent contractor, but it’s customary to compensate these types of workers with a higher hourly rate. This can be ideal for some one-off projects, but isn’t always a good fit for others. Make careful estimations of the breadth of the tasks at hand and how long you anticipate the project taking.
If you’re considering how to approach manpower for your next venture, hiring an independent contractor has its benefits. Before you make a decision, take a look at which projects your company needs completed now, and which projects are sure to be on the horizon in the next year. If you see your company growing into its role and want to solidify a team that will help carry your mission through to the future, it might be a good idea to consider hiring full time. If you’re unsure of where things are headed just yet, and are still taking it one project at a time, independent contractors are probably your best bet for now. You may find that you never really need employees to make your vision a reality, but in the meantime, independent contractors are a solid next step for growth into the future.
As for tax responsibilities associated with hiring independent contractors, it helps to go right to the source. Visit the IRS Independent Contractor or Employee Guide for more information.