Australian small businesses are taking advantage of the rise of self-employed workers to help support their business needs, according to new research.

With the changing shape of Australia’s workforce and growing numbers of creative professionals ditching the corporate life to pursue a freelance career, there are more freelancers flooding the market than ever before.

The MYOB SME Snapshot shows that Australian small businesses keen to reduce overheads are increasingly hiring self-employed workers to undertake specific, short-term jobs rather than committing to full-time employee contracts.

New findings from cloud accounting platform MYOB reveal that almost nine out of 10 (89 per cent) had used a freelancer in the last six months, and are likely to do so again.

Tim Reed, CEO at MYOB says small businesses should be open to considering the ways freelancers can support their needs. Improved technology and more online opportunities has meant that businesses have become comfortable with a different approach to talent acquisition, he says.

“Small businesses can tap into a global workforce available around the clock with a broad range of specialist skills that can help improve and develop their business, no matter the length of tenure required,” Reed says.

“By taking advantage of freelancers, business owners can free themselves up to look for new opportunities for business growth, without sacrificing business profitability, customer service or losing peace of mind that important tasks are being looked after,” Reed says.

Platforms like The Freelance Collective – which enable freelancers to promote their skills so that clients can easily find and reach out to them – are also proving to be increasingly important tools to help freelancers find the right talent for the job, too.

While SME are much more likely to source freelancers through recommendations from other small business owners (46 per cent), and friends and family (44 per cent), the influence of freelancer websites is also experience an uptake, with 15 per cent of small business owners stating they have found a freelancer through apps or websites.

“While small business owners will always look to their trusted circle of friends and family, as well as other business owners, we’re seeing the influence of freelance websites really kick in and compliment this more traditional form of sourcing employees,” Reed says.

The SME Snapshot found younger generations were more open to embracing the freelancer workforce. Business owners aged under 40 were much more open to this new way of working, with 74 per cent saying they would consider using a freelancer for specialised help with a task or project, in comparison to only 40 per cent of business owners over 40.

“Ultimately, freelancers can be a great addition to your current employee base and can provide high quality, specialised services when required. Many also run their own business, relying on repeat business and referrals, which means it will be in their best interest to provide the best service possible for you and your business,” Reed says.

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