Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > 28 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m freelance CEOs and CFOs). It is conceiv- able that so-called traditional working arrangements—inside an office, strict nine-to-five regimen—may become a rarity in the next 20 years. Here is what business owners need to know to navigate this giant wave of change in the workforce. Establish expectations and cultural fit ere are nearly limitless reasons to hire freelancers for your business. Maybe you own a bakery and want help designing and launching your website. You are the head of a marketing team at a large company that requires assistance around social media or blog content. Your tech firm is in desperate need of a pinch-hitting pro- grammer for a one-off project. e beauty of hiring a freelancer is that the relation- ship can go on for years or days, depend- ing on your needs and how seamlessly the person fits into your organization. Independent contractors are available in person and virtually. You can find the latter on dozens of sites like Upwork.com, Guru.com, and FlexJobs.com. What are the best ways to manage them? For Julie T. Ewald, it all comes down to setting expectations and focusing on transparent communi- cation. Based in Las Vegas, Ewald is the CEO and creative director of Impressa Solutions, an inbound marketing agency and content development firm. According to her, the best clients are those who know what they want be- fore even reaching out. "e number one issue most freelancers deal with when they get contacted by a new client is a lack of set expectations," she says. "It is essential to know what you want and do a fair amount of plan- ning and strategy around the engagement beforehand. Figure out your ROI [return on investment] and your appropri- ate budget, or you will be throw- ing money away." Worried you don't know where to start? Do some online research into the type of independent contrac- tor you are looking to hire and to find ideas for how to structure a specific proj- ect. If you are still unsure, consider hir- ing a local expert or virtual consultant to help point you in the proper direction. It's a good idea to interview several can- didates before taking the plunge, or to of- fer a trial period so you can get to know each other's work styles. Once you've found the right person for the job, agree on deadlines and make sure there is ac- countability on both sides. "ere's a lot to be said for logical, struc- tured feedback and accountability," says Ewald. "Often when freelancers are given an assignment with a deadline, they will have to wait for the client to hold up his or her end of the bargain in terms of getting back drafts or other sections of the proj- ect. But if you establish boundaries and parameters ahead of time, it can alleviate a lot of headaches." Regular, set communication is also es- sential to the freelance-client relationship. 3 Questions for Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.com and Remote.com 1. What should every freelance manager know and do? • Be respectful of a freelancer's time—most are juggling multiple projects. • Establish a communication plan—a weekly check-in call or just regular emails. You both should understand what is expected. • Check in as you go. This not only helps make sure they are staying on track, but it also lets you identify trouble spots before the final project is done. • Treat your freelancers like whole people. Strike up casual conversations to get to know them better. You may find they'd be a great fit for a permanent role within your company, or just for more freelance projects. 2. What is a common manager mistake? Micromanaging is a mistake. Freelancers are generally respon- sible for when and how their work gets done, so focus on their progress and results. If you have specific things they need to know, establish that ahead of time. Give feedback on their progress and deliverables, not methods or process. 3. How can freelancers stand out among the crowd? Position yourself as a person who can help clients solve problems or reduce workloads in a particular way. What expertise sets you apart? Having some sort of online portfolio, website, or even just a detailed LinkedIn profile will help make your value clear to potential clients. — By Katie Morell

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