Working with the right people is essential for the progress of any business. Companies from all industries realize that the potential of their employees is a huge factor in the progress they can achieve. But it’s not only the talents on your team that can make a difference in your company’s success story.

Using the services of independent contractors and freelancers is one of the most popular options businesses choose when they need skills they don’t have in-house. When hiring new team members for one-time jobs doesn’t make sense or simply isn’t cost-effective, working with an external specialist can be the right way to go.

We spoke to four business owners who have long-term experience with outsourcing tasks and whole projects to independent contractors. Here are their authentic firsthand impressions of how external talent can help a business flourish.

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Why work with contractors?

Before you start looking for independent contractors to complement your team, you need to be clear on why you need such help. You need to envision how it can improve the way you do your business.

Here are the benefits some business owners get from working with independent contractors:

Outsourcing work lets you focus on what’s really important

It all began with the realization that we needed to put our time and energy in the tasks we do best—and let other people help us do the stuff we don’t excel at.

—Mikkel Sciegienny, Spreadsheeto

For Mikkel Sciegienny, co-founder of Excel training company Spreadsheeto, the idea to work with contractors came naturally. Like many business owners, he was wearing too many hats, and this was killing his productivity.

At one point he sat down with his business partner to analyze the tasks that were eating up their time and whether they contributed to the development of their company. They realized they were spreading themselves too thin. They looked for tasks that other people could do as well—or even better than—them.

The list came out long!

Hiring others to help with those tasks lets Mikkel and his co-founder focus on what they’re good at. And it frees up time for them to work on what’s important: growing their company.

You can get the right person anywhere in the world

For many companies, hiring an in-house team member with the right skillset is an uphill battle. This holds especially true for businesses that are based in remote locations and can’t find the right people in their local market.

Rhys John runs GR Digital, a digital agency based in Swansea, Wales. Working with remote contractors has allowed his agency to work with top talent around the world. GR Digital collaborates with contractors from the USA, Ukraine, France, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Australia, India, Hong Kong, China, and Germany.

The same experience is shared by Jeff Harker (editor’s note: not his real name), the owner of a Texas-based private investigation company that offers surveillance, undercover operations, and courthouse research.

Although his business is located in one city, he can use independent private investigators across the state. This gives his company’s activity a broader scope and affords access to specialists all over the US.

You can save on costs

Working with external talent is cost effective and, if managed correctly, time effective. We will continue our use of contractors for the foreseeable future.

—Jeff Harker

Outsourcing is sometimes wrongly understood as a way to pay workers less than they deserve. If you adopt a different approach, though, you can truly make the best of working with external talent. As Sciegienny notes, it’s better to treat outsourcing as an affordable way to collaborate with high-quality workers at a fair price.

For many companies, the possibility to save on costs, especially when bootstrapping in the beginning, is a major benefit of working with external talent. As Mark Thompson from the digital marketing agency Search Creatively explains, many talented freelancers are based in countries with lower living costs.

This means the payment rates they find satisfying may be lower than, say, those in the US. Thompson saved up to 70% in hiring costs by working with offshore contractors.

Working with independent contractors also allows you to adapt payment schemes. John notes that some of his contractors are paid on a project basis. With others, the rates are set per hour. This flexibility allows for better budgeting.

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Working with contractors helps businesses save money in other ways, too. As Harker notes, having a large number of people in-house may not make economic sense at all times.

This is especially relevant for businesses that experience variable workloads. In lean times, they can refrain from using contractors’ services. When cash is plentiful, they can bring on more help.

Working with external specialists has also been useful for Harker’s company because he occasionally needs very specialized services (computer forensics, for example). Hiring independent certified specialists and court experts on a case-by-case basis rather than employing them full-time saves him money.

What’s it like to work with external talent?

Persuaded that independent contractors can be a blessing for your company? Here are some real-life impressions of what the experience of collaborating with external talent is like.

It can take time to find the right match…

Getting started with outsourcing can be rough at first, Thompson notes. You need to understand what type of person is a good fit for your company. This means you should plan for a period of trial and error.

Once you get it right, though, you’re likely to stick with hiring contractors.

…and then it’s pure magic

The overall experience has been nothing short of amazing.

—Mikkel Sciegienny, Spreadsheeto

While finding the right people and setting a balanced approach to your common work may take a while, the final product is worth the effort.

According to Thompson, a big benefit is the flexibility your company gets. You can easily adjust the number of people working on a certain project, as well as their roles. You don’t need to change offices constantly with the growth of your team. All of this reduces overhead costs.

Combined with the fact that the right staff is always available, this flexibility can be a game-changer for your company.

Know the limitations and work with them

We’re now able to complete much higher volumes of work at a much better quality due to the ability to work collaboratively with our freelancers.

—Rhys John, GR Digital

An important aspect of making the best of your work with contractors is setting clear expectations and investing in clear communication.

As Mikkel from Spreadsheeto underlines, defining the outcomes you’d like to see is crucial. Instead of relying on vague descriptions, be very specific with your criteria about the type and quality of the work you’re outsourcing.

Once you find people with whom you have a good chemistry, invest in a long-term partnership.

Another potential limitation of working with independent specialists is that they may not be always available when you need them, as Harker explains. To overcome this, instead of relying on a single person, make sure you have a pool of contractors you can contact when the need arises.

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Why working with contractors can be a big boost for your business

The company owners we spoke to all agreed: using the services of independent contractors can help your business soar. The process also teaches you to be more flexible, trusting, and smart about your management.

It teaches you to delegate

If you’re used to doing everything by yourself, relying on other people can be terrifying at first, Mikkel Sciegienny shares.

It’s all about letting go of the desire to control everything. Once you develop trust in your contractors, you’ll probably want to outsource as much as possible.

This can free up a lot of time and mental energy. Mikkel notes that working with a contractor on his company’s video production saves him two to three days per month. That’s a significant amount of time saved

You can scale quickly and work efficiently

Hiring high-quality, overseas freelancers has been the single biggest contributor to the success and growth of our business.

—Mark Thompson, Search Creatively

For Rhys John from GR Digital, working with external talent is essential for a company’s ability to grow. Outsourcing has helped his company overcome the cap on their ability to scale. Contractors have turned into the backbones of their business.

Mark Thompson shares a similar view. He notes that going in the “virtual” direction instead of hiring a large in-house team has made an immense difference for his company. His business can change directions as the need arises and handle different workloads as efficiently as possible.

Your business becomes more flexible

Working with contractors has given us great flexibility in geographic coverage, services offered, staffing levels, and sales levels.

—Jeff Harker

Company owners and managers see flexibility as a major benefit that independent contractors bring to the table. They can help your business become more agile and adaptable.

From the type of projects you can take on to the ability to grow quickly, working with external talent is a clear win.

What’s your experience with independent contractors?

Companies from fields as diverse as digital marketing and private investigation all find that working with external specialists can be a game changer. And with how easy it is to get started hiring, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.

Have you used independent contractors in your business? How effective was your collaboration? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!