Hiring contractors to scale a business

  1. Hiring contractors
    Gavin Bell

    Gavin Bell Contributor, Blue Cliff Media Free Member

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    Every business gets to a stage where they need to consider taking on extra help. In most cases, a business will look to take on an employee or member of staff. However, many businesses these days are turning to contractors, in order to keep overheads low.

    With my agency, Blue Cliff Media, I reached that tipping point and decided it was time to get some help. After weighing up the pros and cons of all my different options I chose to work with contractors, rather than going down the in-house route.

    In this article I’m going to share with you some of the benefits of hiring contractors, as well at the downsides, all from my point of view:

    Benefits of hiring contractors

    There are many benefits to hiring contractors such as:

    Cost Effective

    It can be a very cost effective way to run a business. When you win business, you simply hand that job to the contractor for a percentage of the sale fee. If you win a £1,000 per month contract and you hire a contractor to take on that work for £500 per month, you know you’re always going to be in profit on that client. Your job then becomes project management.

    Contractors will typically be paid more than permanent employees, but they’re not entitled to other working benefits such as pensions and bonuses. So although the hourly rate may be higher, the long-term savings could far outweigh those costs. 

    They’re not tied to your business

    I speak to so many agency owners who complain about not being able to sleep at night because of the staff they have to pay. It’s a constant battle between growing the agency, but at the same time having to deal with the sometimes unreliable stream of work. 

    When you work with contractors, you can hire them for specific jobs or projects. When you have unexpected upturns in demand or seasonal changes, with contractors, you’re able to scale your business operations and staffing levels without having the long-term commitments. 

    Plugging skills gaps

    For many agencies, having skill gaps in their workforce is a serious issue. When hiring contractors, they tend to be brought in to deliver a very specific skill set. For example, we work with contractors who solely run Facebook ads. That’s all they know and they’re truly experts in it.

    However, in larger agencies, you’ll often find Facebook ad campaigns are run by someone who is just part of an overall social media team. Long-term employees are brought in with the idea of developing their skills over a long period of time. The best contractors will have years of experience in their field and will have worked in lots of different niches and on lots of different projects.

    Disadvantages of hiring contractors

    Despite the benefits of hiring contractors, there are also some disadvantages, such as:

    Lack of company culture

    One of the most attractive things about running an agency is the development of a company culture. You’ll often find creative agencies have really nice office spaces and great company cultures. They tend to be very creative places to work in.

    When working with contractors, you’re not able to develop that culture. The chances are your team will be working from all over the world and you’ll be communicating primarily over the likes of Slack.


    One of the biggest problems with working with contractors is the fact that many of them won’t be as reliable as you would want. Most of them will have their own businesses and things to deal with and so might not be able to give you the time you’d like them to. This is something you’ll have to talk to with each person you work with. But it’s much harder to have control over your team when they could be on the other side of the world from you.  

    You’ve got to be careful not to interfere too much with your contractor, otherwise you risk making the contractor look and feel like an employee, which may alienate them. You’ve got to understand the difference between working with a contractor and employee and set out each other’s expectations before working together.

    Quality control

    There’s going to be some sort of quality control function to ensure the person is going to be good enough at their job, like with hiring any sort of person into the business. When this is offline, it’s much simpler because you’re able to go and personally see that person and see the work they’re doing.

    If I was hiring a Facebook advertising person, I’d maybe ask them to set up a basic ad and landing page for me to see. When it’s a contractor, it’s much harder to do this. It’s easy for them to send you over screenshots of campaigns they’ve run before, but there’s always the chance for these to be taken from elsewhere. You’re still able to quality check their work, it just makes the process a big tougher. 

    Like with anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to whatever route you decide to go down. Hiring contractors has worked really well for me as it means I can work remotely, keeping my overheads low, whilst still having a very skilled team to service my clients.

    However, every business is different and what works for me might not work for you. If you’re at the stage where you need some help, take a look at your situation and decide on what is best for you.

    Video tutorial

    Watch Gavin Bell talk about using contractors to build his business below.