Leveraging the 1099 economy to grow your business

Leveraging the 1099 economy to grow your business

The 1099 economy has brought a revolution to the way the U.S. does business.

Decades ago, when a new business opened its doors, it needed office staff, bookkeepers, managers, marketers, and more just to handle customers and clients. If a company’s focus was on manufacturing or mechanical tasks, it needed to fill those roles, too.

If a business didn’t have the need for a full-time advertising rep, then the alternatives were either finding someone who could do advertising, bookkeeping and answer phones – and probably not all three things well – or outsourcing to a huge and expensive firm to do the work.

Not anymore.

In the wake of the Great Recession, a lot of workers chose, or were guided out of necessity, to remain freelancers and independent contractors. They appreciate the flexibility and control – and many don’t want to risk layoffs again.

The potential for getting expert work at significant savings is attractive to businesses, too. Instead of paying for full-time employees with benefits in support roles like marketing then scrambling to fill their days with busy work to justify the salary, you can hire freelancers on a per-project basis.

Here are a few more benefits of the 1099 economy for new businesses:


  1. Start up lean.

Picture this: you and your business partner have launched a new company. It’s taking off, and you already have too much work for just the two of you. But it’s only been two months, and you don’t have the funds (or security, yet) to justify hiring an employee full-time.

Enter the internet.

Freelancers from all fields flock to sites like Upwork, 99designs and peopleperhour to offer their skills in writing, web development, graphic design, office work like bookkeeping and bill collecting, and more.

Finding freelancers through those sites to cover bursts of extra work in your first months of operation can help you produce excellent work at great value. That lets you recycle more of the money you earn on projects or receive from investors into building your business.


  1. Build up a team of freelancers invested in your success.

Every time you work with a freelancer, consider how the business relationship can be mutually beneficial. If you liked their work, tell them so and ask if you can go to them with future projects or recommend them to friends – then do so. In exchange, ask them to share your business with their family, friends, and contacts. If they’re too busy to do a job, or a project requires multiple freelancers, ask for a recommendation from their network. Repeat the process with them.

You’ll end up with an army of freelancers as invested in your success as you are, because you’ve proven to them that their loyalty pays off.

When it does come time to hire a full-time employee or two, look to your freelance network first. They’ll be grateful to be appreciated, and you’ll likely get their best efforts.


  1. Find rising stars and catch them before anyone else can.

Sites like Upwork and 99designs aren’t just great for finding freelancers who will work on a per-project basis. Along with CollegeRecruiter and StudentFreelance, they’re also good places to advertise paid internships and training programs.

Those programs are where you can find find phenoms in business, web design, graphic design, marketing, and more, offering them choice jobs upon graduation. If they accept your offer, you’ll be getting someone you know can produce the work you need, and who already knows what your company expects.

Even if some of your interns end up finding jobs elsewhere after graduation, internship programs give back to the community and help students build vital skills – and that reflects well on your company.

The takeaway? Working with freelancers is both a good way for start-up companies to save money in the short term, and to develop talent for the long term. The 1099 economy and the internet have made it easier than ever before for a company to connect with talented freelancers. Why not take advantage and start today?

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