Why are so many SME’s turning to freelancers? The answers are in!

“Ten years ago the majority of businesses cited local staff as their main source of employees,” says PeoplePerHour founder, Xenios Thrasyvoulou. “Now the majority cite freelancers as their main source of hiring. This turnaround has been rapid and the change has taken some by surprise – perhaps this accounts for the recent fracas around the chancellor’s threatened manifesto breach.”

Of course, Mr Thrasyvoulou has a product to sell, and PeoplePerHour are keen creators of headline-grabbing surveys that help them in that endeavour. We’ll say this for them, however: they’re invariably very well researched, and they provide no shortage of interesting data for anyone consider the possibility of going freelance. And, based on their latest survey, it seems that the good news keeps on coming for the self-employed community.

Consider these facts. In March 2017, 67% of SME’s responding in a 1,000-strong survey said that they supplement their core payroll with freelance assistance, meaning that, “about six out of 10 SME managers now work with more freelancers than staff, with teams typically consisting of 12 freelancers and just 3 employees.” That’s a ratio of 4:1 in terms of freelancers to payroll staff, offering the SMEs access to “upwards of 50 different skills”, according to PeoplePerHour.

What’s more, the survey suggested that SMEs are among the most international businesses in the country, with a fifth of these SMEs using freelancers from at least three different continents. If you’re considering a leap into the freelance business while broadening your horizons in a literal sense, there may never have been a better time.

The reasons for this extraordinary upturn in freelance good fortune tend to be location-related. The main ‘push factor’ for hiring freelancers tends to be the departure (and shortfall) of local talent. In this digital, internet-driven age, virtual offices and low travel expenses can save companies cash.

There is, however, a ‘pull factor’, too. Why hire a local person with a limited skill set when you might be able to find someone who can Skype in with several more strings to their bow? As PeoplePerHour suggests, an SME with “upwards of 50 different skills” brings more to the table, and can therefore seem more attractive to potential clients “without having to increase overheads.”

Inevitably, the survey shone a light on its creator’s raison d’etre, pointing out that one in 10 SMEs turn to freelancers in an attempt to cut down on extortionate recruitment fees. However, there can be little doubt that administration costs are slashed when you turn to the freelance community rather than hiring full-time. “In allowing businesses to access niche skills without the expense and trouble of recruiting a permanent employee,” says Mr Thrasyvoulou, “it could be argued that the freelancer is the real grist to the mill of British business.” There may be a hint of hyperbole there, but it’s not likely to fall on deaf ears for anyone considering a future as their own boss.

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