Originally appeared on Xerox Small Business Solutions.
By Rieva Lesonsky
- Set clear parameters and create a contract. Always use a written contract when retaining an independent contractor. It protects both your business and the contractor. The contract should clearly state the scope of the project and each side’s responsibilities. Include deliverables, due dates, payment terms and what happens if the project scope should change. Websites such as RocketLawyer and Nolo.com have sample contracts you can modify to meet your needs. It’s a good idea to run your contract by an attorney who can fine-tune a standard freelancer contract for you.
- Stay on the right side of IRS regulations regarding independent contractors. Be careful not to treat your independent contractors like employees, or the IRS may rule they are employees and subject your business to penalties and back taxes. The difference between independent contractors and employees can be a fine line, but essentially, a person is an employee if you control the way they do their work, provide them with tools to do it, or require them to come to your business to perform the job. (Read more about the IRS’ test for independent contractors.)
- Digitize documents to save your contractors time. No need for independent contractors to stop by the office to pick up papers if you’ve scanned and stored them in the cloud. With Xerox Web Capture, you can scan documents using any brand of scanner, and import them straight into your business apps. There’s no need to create filenames, save files and then organize them. You can also use the Xerox® Mobile Linkmobile app, connect your mobile devices with Xerox® multifunction printers, then use your smartphone or tablet to scan documents and email them to the independent contractors you’re working with and send them to cloud storage simultaneously.
- Set up systems to streamline collaboration. Once your data is in the cloud and available to your independent contractors, create a system to collaborate with them. Using well-known cloud storage and sharing apps, such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Boxor Google Drive, makes it more likely that your independent contractors will already be familiar with the system you choose. With Xerox® ConnectKey technology, you, your employees and your independent contractors can all view and edit the same document at once, enabling true collaboration.
- Be sure the data and documents you share are secured. Collaborating via cloud-based storage and apps ensures that independent contractors don’t have to access your business network. This protects your network from viruses, data breaches or other threats that can be introduced when an outsider enters. However, you can and should take further steps to protect your data. For example, limit the sharing of information to a “need to know” basis. If you use a Xerox® ConnectKey® Technology-enabled MFP, you can password-protect sensitive documents, keeping them safe from unauthorized users. If you or an employee accidentally send confidential files to an independent contractor, or store sensitive information in a folder the independent contractor can access, password-protection ensures the files will be secure from prying eyes.
- Communicate and provide regular feedback. You shouldn’t micromanage an independent contractor’s work, but do stay in frequent communication with them. By checking in on a regular basis, you’ll be able to spot potential problems with the project and get it back on track. Apps like Slackor Trello are popular options for communicating with independent contractors, and if you already use them for remote employees, it’s easy enough to loop your independent contractors in. (Just be sure to create appropriate security settings for them and remove their access when a project is over.)
You hire independent contractors to save your business time and money and deliver quality work. Following the tips above will help ensure you get the desired results—and even find independent contractors who can help your business for years to come.
For more tips on managing your business, subscribe to the Small Business Solutions blog using the subscribe box below. You can also find great information about boosting your productivity, managing your brand, and improving your bottom line here on Xerox.com