Many large U.S. companies are reducing the use of their offices, according to Open Forum. Firms such as HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems are only using between 35% and 40% of their available space, saving up to $ 10,000 per year and worker.
Workers are mobile and are where the customer is, and they also used the space in other ways: sharing desks or simply using multifunctional rooms as offices, meeting rooms and team work rooms at the same time, for example.
But one of the main reasons is that the use of telecommuting is growing, as firms are managing the work done and not so much from where it is done. New platforms are helping, such as Smartise, which allows to find freelancers for all sorts of projects and manage the evolution of the project, including milestones, deliverables and all aspects that both client and provider need to consider.
This is not just good for businesses, as they save money and gain flexibility, but also for workers. On the one hand a good number of them are choosing to become independent and start their own companies, given that the most difficult task, to find customers, it is becoming easier, thanks to said platform and an increase in the number of potential clients. Self-employment allows these entrepreneurs to work with greater freedom and comfort.
On the other hand, more and more employees are opting for telework and there are studies indicating even that many prefer working from home to a raise.
The hardest thing about being a freelance is not the work itself, but getting customers. You need commercial skills and you also need to dedicate enough time to establish contacts, answer emails that you do not know whether they will lead to anything or to visit clients in order to change an initial reluctance on the final signing of a commission.
There are a few aspects that we can not forget:
-Be visible online: keep your website and your portfolio updated. Open a blog and write about your industry, to become a specialist in the sector. Be active in social networks: Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. And of course, use Smartise to find new clients and projects;)
-Be visible offline: go to round tables and conferences, talk to people, give your card around (yes, they are still used -a lot). Pick up the phone, to answer and to make some calls, and also take to time arrange face to face visits. Emails are extremely useful and Gtalk saves time, but everyone likes to know who they are dealing with and to shake hands at least once or twice during the implementation of a project.
-Do not forget your past customers. If someone hires you for a specific project, that does not mean that you're not going to work for him anymore. On the contrary. Include your customers in your networks, especially LinkedIn, so they can locate you easily. Have nice detailes: greet the holidays, remember birthdays. For them there are a friendly greetings, but for you this is a way to be present in their thoughts.
-Address to the right people. When setting a new contact or speaking with former clients, make sure you talk to people who 1) know what your work is all about and 2) make decisions. They will not always be the same person and it is possible that the language you need to use is different.
-Be sure to emphasize your strengths. When you present your proposal make clear what you do and how you would do it. But also recognize when you can not offer a particular service. No one would call a plumber to change the wiring. If you are clear about the services you perform, you may lose a project, but in return you could win a client for the future. If you do a bad job you were never trained to do, you may lose both, as well as time.
Smartise, the site that connects businesses with freelancers, continues to grow. The National Innovation Enterprise (ENISA) has backed the project and has signed a financing agreement with the company.
Under the participative loan policy formula, ENISA has made a capital contribution to partially fund the business plan for the next three years. This funding follows a special line for young entrepreneurs (under 35 years). This does nothing but reinforce the solidity and projection of the project, which is increasing its number of registered users.
The company presentation was made with the help of the Centre d'Empresa i Europeu Innovation (CEEI) in Lleida, an institution that identifies and supports innovative companies.
So far, Smartise had funding for the initial steps, with the partners involved in the project making all financial investments necessary for the current developments. The growth goals required of this new financing method. This will help on new developments to make Smartise the leading web portal in services trade.
The National Innovation Company, SA (ENISA) is a publicly owned enterprise under the management of the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade, through the Directorate General of Small and Medium Enterprises.
ENISA was established in 1982 and since then has been developing its activities in the field of financial investments, mainly in projects in the stages of birth and growth of companies.
About CEEI Lleida
The Foundation CEEI Lleida is a group of major socio-economic agents from Lleida that identifies innovative ideas and provide them with material and human resources to transform them into consistent business.
The Centre d'Empresa i Europeu Innovation (CEEI) houses in its facilities innovating entrepreneurial initiatives, including projects with potential economic viability and iniciatives thay can have a positive impact on the diversification of the economy and job creation of Lleida .
Companies are increasingly looking for freelancers: the economic environment leads to cost reduction and outsourcing services, and there are also more and more professionals deciding to start working solo, so companies have a greater number of experts to choose from.
According to a study of the office services company Regus, 47% of companies prefer to hire a freelancer rather than resorting to an employee in full or part time, a percentage that is growing compared to previous years.
The benefits for companies are nearly obvious:
-They can hire a self-employee as quickly as any other kind of professional.
-Costs are lower because the company pays for each project and can outsource services not requiring a full time person or team.
-Flexibility is even greater, since firms can work on single projects or simply change providers if they need to.
But freelancers also have increasingly more benefits and facilities for their work:
-New technologies allow flexibility and make working easier, allowing to perform better and more in the same time.
-Current market conditions encourage to work as a self-employee, gaining independence.
-In addition, once the freelance grows a good customer base, he can gain in security, as counterintuitive as it may seem: today is unfortunately common to find wage cuts or layoffs in any company, big or small. An employee has not necessarily more security than a freelance.
This trend seems to have come to stay. It is a good time to try to take advantage of it.
Freelancers consider that the most important tools at work are computers and online communication. In the list of preferences, task management tools and networking events follow. Then, coffee. And under a nice cup of coffee comes a good smartphone.
Only 5% of freelancers think that their smartphone is their most important tool, according to a study by Crunch, while 34% chose their computer, and 8%, coffee.
Another curious fact is that while 12% of men explained that they needed the support of social networks in order to develop their business activities, the percentage dropped to 4% for women.
As explained by the managing director of Crunch, this data goes beyond the story, revealing that self-employed workers are still tied to their desks, in spite of the mobility sometimes assumed –and in fact needed.
This information is not surprising, but it's interesting nonetheless: the most visited websites in Europe and Spain are those related to employment, including sites providing services to self-employed and freelancers, as is the case of Smartise.
According to a study by the consultancy firm Comscore, these pages are the target of 30% of European Internet users, with a total of 108.4 million unique visitors per month. In addition, visits have been increasing and, for example in September they rose 14% compared with the same month last year.
Visits to sites of training and education accounted for 28% of the total devoted to this type of pages, while pages focused on job search received 21% of these visits.
These results are not explained only by the high rates of unemployment, but also because changes in the labour market are leading many professionals to work independently and establish their own company. These entrepreneurs often turn to tools and platforms available such as Smartise in order to build a customer base and keep adding projects.
According to The Hartford's Small Business Success Study, the majority (70 percent) of US small business owners feel successful, even as they face challenging conditions, because profits aren't always the definition of success. In fact, 82 percent say they place great importance on doing something they feel passionate about and enjoy. Although 77 percent acknowledge that increasing profitability of the business year over year is very important, only 18 percent say this is the most important factor in defining success.
The study's findings also shed light on the widely-held belief that all small business owners seek to expand and maximize profitability. In fact, it found that growth is not a shared goal among all small business owners. While 52 percent do consider themselves to be growth-oriented, 48 percent describe themselves as maintenance-oriented and are comfortable running their business at its current size.
Other notable findings include:
– Despite high unemployment rates, finding qualified talent is a challenge for 59 percent of small business owners.
– Most small business owners want to stay deeply involved in the operation of their business (81 percent).
– Achieving a comfortable lifestyle for themselves (79 percent) and their employees (72 percent) is important.
– An overwhelming majority indicate they enjoy owning their business (90 percent).
– Two-thirds (68 percent) of small business owners say that their business is a consideration when voting, particularly if certain policies directly impact their business.
A Positive Outlook
In spite of the current economic environment, many small business owners remain optimistic about their prospects for success in the short-term, with 51 percent projecting that they will be very successful in the next two years. Only 6 percent are predicting they will fail to achieve success in that timeframe. Confidence in their ability to stay in business is a major factor leading many small business owners to feel as though they are currently successful.
It's not uncommon for many small business owners to overlook long-term planning goals while focusing on short-term business needs. The study's findings validated this common oversight, with only 35 percent of small business owners saying they have a formal, written business plan for the future.
The tax status of freelancers who want to work in the United States is complex: we must take into account federal taxes, Social Security and Medicare, apart from any state taxes. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) usually pays particular attention to self-employed workers, also foreigners.
Basically, you must pay the self-employment tax, which is the cost of Social Security and Medicare themselves, that employers would normally pay for their employees. We must also pay an income tax, calculated after substracting business expenses to revenue. We must also take into account the estimated taxes, which are taxes that an employee automatically pays from his salary, but a self-employed person has to declare and pay on his account, also depending on income.
Besides costs, there are ways to deduct taxes: for example, contributions to a pension plan, declaring unpaid invoices, and also declaring expenses such as lunches with clients, research expenses, and supplies (telephone, light and water, for example).
Freelancers willing to try Smartise can do so for free during their first month as members. Once they sign up, they will be able to apply for projects without any cost.
Thus, customers who need to hire a freelancer and providers searching for projects will be able to use Smartise's services without having to make any payment. Our goal is to get you to know the Smartise working system, and we know of no better way to learn how a system works other than using it.
Customers and suppliers will also have free access to virtual working rooms, so they can manage and plan the project phases, including deadlines, progress reports and of course all the necessary communication between businesses and professionals.
When working as a freelancer, you must ensure your clients understand the differences between a self-employed worker and a hireling. Especially when working with companies that do not usually resort to this system and they are doing so now because of changes in the work market.
Obviously, this can also be seen in reverse: firms have to take into account a number of aspects before hiring a freelancer, apart, of course, of the economic agreement.
To begin with, the client has to know how to delegate. The freelancer is not an employee physically present in the company. Also, he does not have to spend all his time devoted to a single client (hopefully he will have a wide portfolio). The client must know how to “leave alone” a freelancer, obviously as long as he respects deadlines and project requirements.
However, communication has to be fluid. The freelancer must submit with the greatest diligence possible updates about how the project is going and how deadlines will be met. Smartise's workrooms allow this communication more easily and neatly than through email, grouping conversations and showing the evolution of the project.
In addition, all project requirements must be as thoroughly explained as possible. Obviously, you can rely on the freelance's creativity and experience, but it is likely that the client has some clear ideas about what the final result should be like: the best, to avoid misunderstandings, is to leave everything as clear and specified as possible.
When contacting a new customer, freelancers should not hesitate to show examples of previous work, especially if they are in line with what the client is looking for. Also, if the company is hiring a freelancer for the first time, there should be no objection if references are asked for. Of course, Smartise referral system may be a good introduction letter.
Finally, and this applies to both the client and the freelancer, it should be clear from the beginning under what conditions the employment relationship can be terminated even before the project is completed. The freelance may not feel comfortable with the company and can for example leave the project early with a several days or weeks notice, of course providing all necessary information to the client. And if the client is not satisfied with the work of the freelancer, could also give notice, compensate as agreed, and find someone he thinks could be more appropriate.
Working as a freelance has many advantages, but is also necessary to avoid risks.