Pros and Cons of Hiring Independent Contractors

independent contractors

Whether you're launching your first startup or managing an established small business, you know that overseeing your business is no easy task. When the workload becomes too much, having some help can make your job easier and relieve some pressure and stress. As your business evolves, you may find that you do not have the skills to tackle every task. 

Remember that instead of taking on too much work or tackling tasks beyond your skill set, you can turn to skilled individuals to help your small business excel. Independent contractors can help you better manage your workload or address those job tasks that aren't your strength. The IRS generally defines independent contractors as those individuals whose job tasks are controlled by the individual rather than the employer. Evaluating the pros and cons of using independent contractors is essential before hiring a freelancer. 


Additional Help

Independent contractors can provide the manpower your small business needs to thrive. When work picks up, you might need extra hands to pitch in, and an independent contractor is a no-obligation way to find that help. You can enjoy the benefits of assistance without bringing on additional full-time employees.

Cost Savings

Independent contractors can be a cost-effective way to add to your small business team. Because they are not full-time employees, you do not have to offer benefits like paid vacation, worker's comp, health insurance, or a 401(k). You can also save on payroll expenses. Instead, you simply pay the contractor at the agreed-upon rate, whether it's hourly or per project. The freelancer is also responsible for paying any self-employment taxes, taking the task of withholding deductions off your hands.


Working with independent contractors offers flexibility as you staff your small business. You can hire a variety of contractors on a per-project basis rather than committing to them for the long term. Mix and match talent as your business needs change. You might establish ongoing relationships with some independent contractors or seek out new freelancers when you need help in a new area of your business.

It might sound odd, but hiring an independent contractor can also provide flexibility in terms of firing. When independent contractors come on board they know (or should know) that they are not beholden to the same perks as those who actually form part of the company. The temporality and need to renew contracts is telling in terms of uncertainty. Firing a independent contractor is in actuality discontinuing service with another company who doesn't meet your needs. It can, and should be a lot less emotionally taxing than firing an in-house employee.


Hiring an in independent contractor can be an added measure of protection as it provides less exposure to employment related lawsuits. 


Lack of Control 

When you welcome an independent contractor to your small business team you don't have much control over that individual. They are able to set their own schedule, time frame and work environment when it comes to completing the actual work. Additionally, while you might have a professional relationship with the contractor, your perceived authority may be limited. If the individual goes on vacation for three weeks or is slow to respond to emails you simply have to wait, or find a new contractor to take his or her place. 

Search Process

Independent contractors aren't always knocking on your door looking for work. When you're hiring a full-time employee, you can place an ad in the local paper or on the web and quickly get responses from many qualified applicants. Because fewer individuals are seeking contractor jobs, you're recruiting from a smaller pool. While you still might be able to find the right freelancer, the search process may take longer or require more work than you anticipate. 


Independent contractors will likely come and go more often than full-time employees depending on the project at hand or natural churn since some might not be the right fit for your business' needs. Others might find full-time work or simply move on. Since turnover is more likely with independent contractors, this staffing solution might not work well for small business owners who do not want to regularly look for assistance. 

Intellectual Property

Similar to "lack of control," is the possibility of not owning the IP your independent contractor creates. This can cause significant losses is their creation becomes integral to your business and you lose the right to the IP.

Increased Scrutiny

By hiring an independent contractor you open your business to more scrutiny by the government for improper designation. There can be severe penalties for business owners who pay individuals who should be designated as employers as if they were independent contractors. 

How to Evaluate Independent Contractors 

Now that you know the pros and cons of working with independent contractors, you can decide whether this staffing solution will work for your small business. Weighing three factors can help you identify the right staffing solution for your needs.

Type of Work 

Consider the type of work you need assistance with. Are the tasks well suited to an independent contractor? If there's a significant learning curve a full-time employee may be a better fit. However, if a skilled independent contractor can step in and offer immediate help, this type of staff member may be suitable for your small business or start up.


How long do you need assistance? If you expect to need help for the foreseeable future a reliable full-time employee may be the most practical choice. However, if you have a busy season or a big project that requires temporary additional manpower, an independent contractor is a no-obligation way to help your business through those busy times.


How much can you afford? An independent contractor should generally cost you less than a full-time employee, which can be appealing to small businesses on modest budgets. 

Of course, you'll need to shop around and find out the going rate for an independent contractor in your field. Overall growing your small business does not always require a staff of full-time employees. Relationships with reliable and skilled independent contractors can potentially help your small business grow. Determining whether or not this type of staff works for you is the first step toward expanding your small business.

5 Ways to Mess Up Hiring

hiring process

Often times when things go south with an employee, the first instinct is to blame the employee. Unfortunately, what many business owners and hiring managers need to realize is that it might not be their fault. Maybe, just maybe, they hired the wrong person.

Finding the right talent with the experience, qualities and ambition that you want in an employee is difficult at best. To top it off, you have plenty of other tasks on your plate to distract you from finding that perfect person. Yet when it comes to hiring quality employees that will determine the success of your company, there are no shortcuts. You have to put the time and energy into finding the person who will be an asset to your team. 

Instead of talking about what you need to do to find that perfect hire, let’s talk about what not to do. Avoiding these 5 common mistakes that mess up the hiring process is a good start in connecting with that ideal employee. 

1. Hiring Too Quickly

One of the biggest mistakes hiring managers make is hiring a person too fast before talking to their entire list of qualified applicants. Don’t fast-forward through the process. Talk to all of your short-list applicants; it is professional, courteous and the smart way to build a rapport with these candidates. 

2. Too little screening 

Screening is essential to finding the right hire; without it, you are wasting time talking to people who are not qualified or a good fit for the position or your company. 

3. Too Much Screening 

Screening too fervently can also damage your candidate pool. Make sure to set realistic criteria for candidates to meet when creating your short list. Be careful of inadvertently screening based on factors like age, race, or gender; not only is it illegal, you may be short-changing your pool of some excellent candidates. 

4. Ineffective Interview Questions 

Asking the right questions during the interview to uncover the perfect employee is an art. Try to hone your questions based on what the position will require. Presenting essay questions to a programmer or technical questions to a PR person would waste time and not get the answers you need. 

5. Not Checking Backgrounds

A big mistake is hurrying through the hiring process without finishing the background checks. This can be a costly mistake. Follow through with checking backgrounds and credentials, regardless of how marvelous the candidate’s references and qualifications are.

No one said hiring was easy; however, getting it right can pay off in large dividends to your company! It is worth the effort to do the recruitment process right from start to finish, making each hire an investment in the success of your business.