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Carol Roth Headshot.pngBy necessity, small business owners often rely on freelancers and independent contractors to expand their own business productivity. Whether you hire freelancers to replace vacationing employees or if you need help on specific projects, you need to ensure a seamless fit while understanding the legal requirements that govern their contracts.


These 6 tips can help you retain control over a variable workforce when you need your small business to operate like a larger one.


1. Know the law

In May, 2017, a new Freelance Isn't Free Act (FIFA) goes into effect in New York. This law essentially states that if a business hires a freelancer for $800 or more worth of work over six months (for either one project or a cumulative series of projects), a written agreement must be put in place. The term "freelancer" covers an independent contractor or any other worker not in a traditional employee-employer relationship.




It also outlines key items to be included in the contract and penalties for non-compliance, among other things.


Any municipality can impose legislation like FIFA that affects the company-freelancer relationship. In fact, other states might follow suit to impose similar laws — and laws can change at any time.


Before hiring freelancers, seek advice from a lawyer that knows employment law for any location where you plan to hire freelancers and where your own business is based. These attorneys typically also understand tax considerations, such as the very specific definition for identifying independent contractors used by the IRS. Local taxing bodies might have their own definitions as well.


2. Clarify job parameters before hiring

Let's say that you bring in an enthusiastic order entry person to clean up a backlog of orders. You described the order entry requirements in detail and you mentioned that paper filing will be part of the job. If you didn't mention that filing will actually be 75 percent of the job — and that the file room is hot and claustrophobic, the freelancer may walk out on the first day.


Training new freelancers costs money, so you want to maximize the chances upfront that the relationship will be a good fit. During the interview, qualifications are important, but you also need to spend significant time discussing the high and low points of the job. Your goal is to identify tasks that excite the applicant, but also paint a realistic picture of the less-attractive ones.




3. Pay close attention to payment matters upfront

Before work begins, take care of all payment issues. It all starts by obtaining a W-9 form from the freelancer, which enables you to issue a 1099 form at tax time. Make sure that your contract stipulates such issues as whether you agree to pay a specific dollar amount per project or an hourly rate, in which case, you need to identify the method of tracking time.


Don't forget to agree on a specific billing cycle, whether it's weekly, monthly or defined by progress in the project.


4. Set clear expectations and milestones

Freelancers are typically good at hitting the ground running, but only if they know what the ground looks like. They need to know the rules and your expectations.


Clearly define what they need to do, how to do it — and the quality checks that you expect them to perform. Set more than final deadlines; set intermediary milestones so that you can monitor their progress along the way. And, whenever possible, put it in writing.


Also, don't forget that some freelancers tend to take more autonomy for their projects. Make sure that they know when you expect them to seek permission and when they can make their own decisions. If they work directly with customers, do they need to know which specific people to deal with and which ones are out of bounds? Up-front instructions like these can potentially make or break your valued customer relationships.


61137173_s.jpg5. Use project management software

At one time, project management tools primarily focused on creating complex charts that detailed every step in a project while making interesting wallpaper. They still do that, of course, but they now perform a comprehensive range of functions, as well.


Particularly if you use cloud-based software, freelancers can keep you advised of where they are, what they're doing and how much time they're spending. You can retain project control from your smart phone 24/7.


6. Stay connected with remote workers

Some freelancers do their work within your workplace. However, for those that work remotely, you need to establish a good technological connection. Don’t take for granted that they might not have the same tools that you are used to working with, from spreadsheet programs to a secure way to access the Internet. Asking questions is always a good policy, even if it seems obvious.


Out of sight does not mean out of mind. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings or email check-ins to monitor progress and answer questions, communicate important project changes quickly and provide a list of resources that they can use to obtain quick answers when needed.


Freelancers are part of the team.

You hire freelancers to further your business goals. If they feel isolated from your staff or have inadequate equipment to do their jobs, they cannot provide the full assistance that you need.


Welcome them into the fold and make sure that everyone in your company does the same. After all, a valued freelancer might become a full-time employee someday.


About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.


Web: or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngRetail employee turnover rates are higher than they have been since before the Great Recession, according to the Hay Group. Hourly employees have the highest turnover rate in the retail industry, at 65 percent—and last year, almost 40 percent of HR professionals in a survey of retail organizations said their turnover increased.


In these tumultuous times, how can your retail store attract and retain the best retail employees?




It’s All About the Apps

Start by getting your job posting on mobile device apps. More than 70 percent of respondents in a report on hourly workers used mobile apps to find their current jobs—more than the percentage that used desktops. If you want to attract hourly retail employees, you’ve got to go where they are—and for millennials (who make up most of the hourly workforce)—that’s on their smartphones. (A whopping 90 percent of millennial surveyed apply for jobs on their phones.) Posting job listings on job search websites with mobile apps will give you the widest range of candidates.


Hourly workers’ biggest pet peeve about job hunting, according to the survey, is when their application seems to go into a black hole. Once you receive applications, keep each applicant informed about the selection process and tell those you interview when the position has been filled.




Treating job applicants poorly can damage your reputation on social media or online review sites. By treating prospective employees politely and fairly, you’ll have more candidates on your “short list” when the inevitable turnover occurs.


What Retail Employees Want

The types of job applicants you’ll see will vary widely. About half the hourly workers surveyed view their jobs as an entry-level step to a long-term career, while half don’t expect to be in their jobs more than a few years. But whether your job candidates are potential lifers or simply see your store as a steppingstone, here are five things they all want:


1. Sufficient hours: Getting scheduled for enough hours is the No. 1 concern of hourly workers—even more than their wages. Over half prefer to work 36 hours a week or more. You may want to consider hiring fewer workers and scheduling them full-time rather than splitting work among part-timers.


2. Competitive pay: Money does matter—it’s the No. 2 concern for hourly workers when searching for jobs. Most survey respondents say $10 to $11 per hour is a fair wage; nearly 20 percent make under $8 per hour. Look at what similar jobs in your area pay. Paying even slightly more than your competitors can give you a big edge. You can also offer hourly workers the chance to make more money through commission sales or bonuses. Finally, help them stretch their dollars by offering them a discount on products from your store or a voucher for a certain amount of free products each month.


41135539_s.jpg3. Flexibility: Flexible shifts are important for the one-third of hourly workers who have outside commitments (like childcare or attending school) that may limit their available hours. Accommodating employees’ scheduling needs helps retain them.


4. Location, location, location: Many hourly workers want jobs they can get to by walking or taking public transportation. If your store is near transportation hubs, highlight that in your job ads. Use localized keywords in your online job listings to attract nearby residents; advertise your openings at local colleges, adult education programs and career centers.


5. Wear it well: Almost one-third of hourly employees don’t want to wear a uniform. If you specify the colors, cut and style of acceptable clothing and then let employees choose their own wardrobes within those parameters, you can still have a consistent look for your store.


A little attention to what hourly employees want can make a big difference in attracting and retaining the best retail workers for your store.


About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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