More and more fields of business are discovering the advantages of online work in general, and online freelance work specifically. In this guest post, e-conomic CEO Torben Frigaard Rasmussen discusses why his accounting software company is firmly-based around an online mindset.
With 60,000 customers, mainly small and medium businesses, e-conomic is one of Europe's leading providers of cloud-based accounting software. When we started out more than 10 years ago, “the cloud” as a concept was virtually unknown, but moving accounting online made a lot of sense, both for us and our customers. From the start, we've focused on giving customers a range of obvious benefits compared to traditional desktop accounting software, including:
Fixed low costs. With our SaaS model, customers subscribe to e-conomic for a fixed monthly fee and are free to unsubscribe when they no longer require our services. This means that they don't have to make heavy software investments, which is particularly important for freelancers, small business owners and startups whose financial circumstances may be very tight and who may not even be sure for how long they will need access to accounting software.
No maintenance. The e-conomic software updates automatically as changes are introduced to the system. We release new functionality around every two weeks, but our users never have to spend time or energy updating their software, or even paying external consultants to maintain and upgrade their software. Instead, the updates are simply available when they log on to e-conomic.
As our workforce physically moves to a remote and contingent model, it’s important to also adapt from a philosophical and logistical standpoint. In this thought-provoking post by TurbineHQ’s Matthew Stibbe, the CEO of the popular HR management tool maker discusses some important factors to keep in mind.
Bringing new flexibility to your workplace can result in a 45% reduction in HR costs and a 38% reduction in real estate costs. It can improve retention rates and employee satisfaction and attracts emerging talent. It can help to eliminate down time and improve customer service. For these very reasons, remote and mobile working has become a reality for all sizes of business and forecasts show that by 2015 there will be 1.3 billion remote workers around the world.
The advent of portable technology, cloud computing and international talent sourcing has created this fantastic opportunity for businesses to reap the range benefits from a new style of working. This seismic shift in the way we work does not, however, come without challenges. Managing remote workers means changing the way you think.
As freelancing gains traction and the mobile workforce emerges, coworking spaces such as those on Deskwanted and NextSpace deliver real advantages to online workers. Here’s some food for thought from the team at Deskwanted.
Ring, ring, it’s 8 a.m.—time to get up and go to work. Or rather, stumble into the next room to your home office. It’s fantastic not having to commute. All you have to do is get up, get dressed and start working. But perhaps today you’ll skip the second step and work in pajamas. On second thought, your bed is far more comfortable than your desk chair...you’ll just get settled here for a day of work. You think you can definitely sit properly in your bed and have a productive day of work. Definitely. Oh, but one moment; before that, you first have to put in a load of washing. Oh, and you should make some coffee. And feed the cat. Maybe you should slow cook something for dinner tonight?
Ahhh, being your own boss has many advantages. Flexible work hours, complete control over your workload, and no need to wear a suit. But with these perks come challenges: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance, keeping your skill-set and knowledge up-to-date, and fostering extended business and social networks. Actually, being productive can be exceptionally difficult when working from home. It’s not uncommon for freelancers and entrepreneurs to feel isolated, which can quickly take its toll.
While there are richer and more robust solutions for creating websites, WordPress is steadily gaining ground as the go-to tool for entrepreneurs looking to create a simple but easy-to-manage website. Freelance web designer and writer Scott Stanton shares his perspective on this trend bringing simplicity (and great eye-appeal) to your web presence.
When first dipping my toes into the web development world (over a decade ago), there was one request that consistently brought a grinding halt to landing a new client. It was as if they were all reading from the same script. “I just want something simple, only a few pages, because I don’t have a very big budget for this. Maybe a slideshow on the homepage, other than that I’ll leave it up to you.”
No problems there – so I’d say, “Perfect.” And that was the cue for the inevitable: “Oh, and I want to easily be able to update everything as well.” Ladies and gentleman, the train has derailed.
Unbeknownst to me, about the time I was ankle deep in the development waters a little open source blogging project called b2/cafelog began. Over the next few years the project snowballed in to what we now know today as WordPress.
The business world is changing, especially now that companies increasingly turn to online freelance help. But like anything new, freelance jobs demand special attention to details. Here are some insights from Katie Gove, Managing Director at Copenhagen-based Trellis.
Moving to the extended use of freelancers challenges the traditional project management and product development process. Through our work with over 50 companies, and after evaluating several benchmark studies involving over 400 companies who use freelancers, Trellis has gained enormous insight into patterns, structures and behaviors in contract work.
One thing that is clear is that companies, project managers and freelancers typically underestimate the actual gap between expectation and reality regarding the process of delivering across organizations. To succeed, you must pay careful attention to the details. In situations where the contract sponsor (the client) has been able to not only make the arrangement work but where they are beginning to reap great benefits with regards to innovation, increased productivity and growth, there are several traits that are shared.
I’ve been hiring contractors on Elance since May 2008, purchased over $7,000 worth of services during that time and I’ve hired everyone from freelance writers, web developers, virtual assistants and other Elance contractors.
Since I’ve had a lot of experience reading proposals from new Elance contractors, I’d like to offer a few ideas that Elance contractors should keep in mind when bidding on Elance projects, as your job proposal is the first impression the client will have of you. This article will share three things you should be sure to mention in that initial critical project bid.
1. Be specific and sincere.
If you are just copying and pasting the same proposal to each job on Elance, without actually reading the job descriptions or customizing your proposal, I’m going to notice pretty quickly—and your proposal will probably get quickly declined. My #1 question when I’m hiring Elance contractors is, “Is my project a good fit for this contractor?” I want to see that you read my project details and job description, and that you have customized your response to my business needs. For example, if you see an Elance project where the client is asking for someone who has experience in building websites for eCommerce, especially for online pharmaceutical sales, then you shouldn’t send a “boilerplate” message talking about your more general web developer skills.
Corporations thrive when key factors—efficient operations, low costs, positive returns on investment, and new opportunities—align. To maximize your efforts and profits as a freelancer, you want to run your operation with the same business savvy as a corporate leader.
In this white paper, STI Knowledge VP of Operations Tim Dewey explains that all roadmaps have a starting point, and identifying and monitoring a few key metrics in your freelance business can work the same way. Not only will you have the tools needed to objectively assess your current business, you can establish long-term goals, and identify what steps will help you reach them—just as a corporation does.
Here’s how to (and why you should) run your operation like a corporation:
1. Analyze your process. You may track the billable hours you spend on client projects, but do you consider where you spend time throughout an entire workday? What do your additional activities earn—or cost—your freelance business?
Corporate process-improvement teams are tasked with streamlining operations to eliminate waste, maximize resources, and ultimately produce more cost-effective outcomes. You can apply the same principles to improve your own productivity and profitability as a freelancer: For one week, keep a thorough record of all the tasks, including the seemingly meaningless ones (from snack breaks to reading Twitter updates), that you perform in a workday.
An honest observation will likely show that much of your time is devoted to producing work, communicating with clients, and prospecting. But you’ll also be able to spot unproductive patterns of behavior, such as “hidden” time-wasters like habitually checking and reacting to nonessential emails and chat messages, or social-media distractions that aren’t business-related. You may even find ways to improve your efficiency around essential tasks such as banking, invoicing, and running errands by taking advantage of mobile applications and automated solutions.
Remember: Time is money when you’re a freelancer, and the more waste you can eliminate from your business, the better your bottom line looks.
This is a story of a delicious combination of hi-tech and health food that grew on the fertile grounds of Elance.
While working long hi-tech hours in a fast growing online advertising network, I made a decision to live a healthier lifestyle and part of that resolve included making healthier food choices in my daily diet. I searched for food that would allow me to maintain a healthy weight, gain all the nutrition I need and still enjoy what I eat. And so I found sesame butter—a yummy peanut-free spread, bursting with yummy nutty flavor and numerous nutritional benefits.
After a quest for finding the perfect sesame butter, I've finally begun to make it myself. With a single ingredient and absolutely no additives, I started making my very own organic sesame butter. When my coworkers fell in love with it, I understood that other people may want to enjoy sesame butter as well.
Few professional opportunities are as liberating, exhilarating, and altogether terrifying as working for yourself. For the typical full-time freelancer, the ability to “make it” hinges upon having the skills, time-management savvy, and perpetual motivation to ward off the always looming threat of failure. But the pressures associated with going solo can also hinder your success and hasten your return to a “traditional” job.
Without question, the personal and professional rewards that can result from self-employment are immense. Let’s take a look at the five most common pitfalls of freelancing—and how to avoid them.
1. Failing to Follow a Daily Routine
It is perhaps the greatest irony of the self-employment experience: Time and again, freelancers decide to work for themselves to escape the drudgery of their office routines and tedious hours. But unless the self-employed set—and abide by—a similar daily routine, success won’t come easily, if at all. Staying on track with a robust but healthy weekday routine, from waking up at a consistent time to keeping clearly defined work hours, is the most effective way to meet your deadlines, accomplish more, and maintain your sanity.
What do you do if you have been out of work for 99 weeks, your unemployment is running out and you have no prospects? What do you do if you are 30-something, have two kids at home, and the thought of not having a flexible schedule bums you out? What do you do if you don’t like working for The Man and long to do be your own boss?
You join the ranks of the self-employed, that’s what.
In the past generation there has been a transformation of work that has enabled more people than ever to become freelancers and join the self-employed revolution. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, websites, apps, hardware, software, and great sites like this one (and a cool new one, below) have made it so that any small business can look big and make money.
And it turns out that more and more people are in fact joining the self-employed work revolution. Consider that Time Magazine recently said that 2012 just may be “The Year of the Entrepreneur”:
Jobs are in scarce supply, and underemployment is at an all-time high. Things look bleak. But, truth be told, there has never been a better time for individuals to start new businesses. Taking up entrepreneurship is now an extremely doable means to overcome unemployment and underemployment, and perhaps even get rich.
Whereas a traditional office or retail space was a necessity less than a decade ago, today, thanks to the rise of virtual office services and co-working spaces, working from home or Starbucks is the new norm.