The Benefits of Working with a Virtual Independent Contractor

I am pleased to introduce our newest guest Blogger, Pamela Hilliard Owens, M.Ed., of Writing It Right for You. Please enjoy her first contribution to WestCoastWay’s Blog.


Today’s traditional workforce is undergoing major changes. The 19th and 20th century model of leaving home to “go to work” in an office or manufacturing plant is quickly becoming less the norm and more of an exception. Ever since powerful high-speed internet became widely available at a relatively low cost, it has been possible for many people to work from home or an internet cafe on a flexible schedule. Software and hardware developments have also enabled people to work away from the usual desktop beige box on their desk. Many people today, after being downsized or laid off, have found new career opportunities in working virtually as independent contractors for various companies around the world.

Independent contractors have been around since the beginning of time as the model of providing services and skills to others, but the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century brought people from farms and small skilled trades guilds into the cities to work for corporations for salaries. For several generations, people (mostly men) went to work for one company for their entire life and retired with a nice pension and a gold watch. But much of that has now changed in this global economy, and many people are taking the skills learned and applying them to running their own businesses and again providing skills and services to others independent of working for one company.

As traditional companies downsize and right-size, they are finding it easier to hire contractors on an as-needed basis than to keep employees on the payroll whether there is enough business to justify the cost or not. Working with independent contractors benefits companies in several ways, not the least of which is having the ability to better manage the cash flow expenditure of paying for work needed at the time.

It often takes more than one try for a company to find exactly the right virtual worker for the project and for the company culture, but it does get easier with time. But when weighed against the time and expense of hiring, training and ultimately firing the “wrong” employee, working with an independent contractor is much more time- and cost-efficient. Taking the time to clearly outline the specifications of each project, and also to making sure you have a clearly defined idea of the kind of person you’re looking for helps in the search and decision process.

One scenario a company may run into is finding people who think that freelancing is a quick and easy way to make some extra money and submit “bids” for jobs for which they are not qualified and at a cost that equals less than minimum wage. Those kinds of “contractors” rarely work out well for the employer. Just as the inquiring company is a real business, so should the independent contractor hired be a “real business”, even if a one-person business.

Businesses looking to work with virtual independent freelancers will find it helpful to work with those contractors who are actual businesspeople themselves and avoid the “I’ll do anything at any price” project bidders. Professional independent contractors will work with you in a business-like manner because they know that their reputation is also on the line. Professional contractors bring skills, expertise, and experience to your project, and their professional fees reflect the value you will receive.

Bio: I decided to start my business, Writing It Right For You, after spending several months looking for a “real job”. As a Baby Boomer with two degrees and over 35 years of both academic and business career experience, I was insulted when I was offered a sales job with a $21,000 starting salary—less than one-third of what I was used to. The “sales manager” who offered me the job was younger than all three of my children. So I decided that I would be my own best boss. I spend an entire month studying, learning, planning, and researching how to start of my own virtual business. I had a “Grand Opening” on July 7th, and within a week had my first four local clients. In September of that year, I obtained my first overseas client who had found my website via a Google search. I now work with graduate students and business clients local to my hometown and around the globe. Sometimes, people are still surprised that I work my business as a business, not a hobby; but mostly, people are pleased. I have all the latest software and hardware necessary to run a successful business, and Skype and high-speed internet access. Although I have the luxury of a flexible schedule, I am always available to my clients when they need me to be.


To find out more about how to use virtual contract workers to help with your business, visit: West Coast Way Consulting Inc.

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