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How to Capitalize On This Thriving Talent Pool to Drive Your Company’s Growth

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How to Capitalize On This Thriving Talent Pool to Drive Your Company's Growth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As business operations shift, executives and entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to an on-demand workforce that is simultaneously empowered by technology and drawn to purpose-driven projects.

Consider Upwork, whose 2020 Future of Workforce Pulse Report revealed that nearly 80% of hiring managers engaging freelancers feel confident about doing so. These hires provide coveted expertise — on a project-to-project basis — that entrepreneurs need to scale their operations without incurring long-term overhead costs.

This new market paradigm also promotes dynamism, with 79% of businesses agreeing that freelance talent enables greater innovativeness. Perhaps most telling, 84% of hiring managers utilizing it feel more assured about adapting to future disruption, compared to just 69% of those relying solely on full-time staff.

By capitalizing on freelance marketplaces, entrepreneurs can amplify employer branding, augment capabilities and future-proof organizations, even amid turbulence. As nearly 60% of hiring managers plan to increase engagement with freelancers over the next two years, the time is now for executives to realize their inherent potential.

Related: Navigating the Great Reshuffle: Why Your Employer Brand is Key in Recruiting Talent

The job market continues to shift

After a season of massive hiring, we’re back to seeing layoffs and downsizing. Companies are feeling the bloat—from unused office spaces with rising rent to oversized employee structures — and are shifting focus to hiring only the most essential positions. This leaves a critical talent gap needed for complex projects and specialized tasks. Highly skilled and specialized independents can fill this void.

A few key benefits to engaging them:

Access to niche experts: Platforms like Toptal and Guru provide access to elite professionals from leading Fortune 500 companies and innovative startups. Whether the need is for a machine learning specialist, growth strategist or financial modeler, entrepreneurs can now curate on-demand teams that boast specialized skillsets, enabling them to focus investment on projects with the highest strategic value.

Enhanced agility: Leading corporations increasingly “rent” skills by tapping freelance experts for initiatives involving new technologies or while entering unfamiliar markets. With niche contributors available to plug knowledge gaps, owners can explore ideas that once seemed unrealistic due to internal constraints—unlocking inventiveness and first-mover advantage.

• Stronger employment brand: Blending full-time employees with project-based freelancers signals a commitment to modernization and work-life balance. Offering both engaging work and flexibility will help draw exceptional candidates and help you compete with corporate giants for top-tier talent.

Related: Can Retirees Thrive in the Gig Economy? Navigating a Changed Workforce

Tips for capitalizing on gig talent

Having explored the forces reshaping work, executives may wonder how to effectively leverage freelance platforms. After all, how can you know you’re getting your money’s worth if a hire isn’t physically present full-time?

• Define projects clearly: Contract hires thrive when expectations and deadlines are established upfront. So, clearly, detail needs around deliverables, success metrics, required skills and projected time investments. Staying ahead when it comes to communication and expectations will help avoid headaches, including delays.

• Build loyalty with talent: The best independent professionals have options regarding the projects they accept. Study their profiles to discern passions and incentives. Offer interesting work, flexibility and strong communication to motivate interest and improve results.

• Manage collaboration: Provide steady context, feedback and guidance at each project stage, but also foster autonomy, even while directing efforts toward strategic goals. A dynamic balance of these qualities drives optimal outcomes.

• Continue expanding your talent pool: Add proven freelancers to an internal database for repeat engagements, and notify talent about new initiatives for which their expertise would provide an edge. Uncovering additional ways, freelancers can enhance the business deepens the relationship.

Related: Fill Your Talent Gap by Sourcing Candidates From the Veteran Community

Top platforms for connecting with talent

Now comes the hard part: finding contractors who bring fractional expertise sets. There are a growing number of platforms, of course, but I’ve found that the following stand out as leaders:

Fiverr: Ideal for execs seeking design, digital marketing, writing, video and admin support. Known for affordability and ease of posting jobs. It taps a global talent pool, too.

Upwork: A flexible platform that spans more than 150 skills. Used by everyone from small businesses to global enterprises. Strong at IT, development, design, finance and consulting.

Toptal: Focuses exclusively on the top 3% of talent. Best for expert software developers, designers, project managers and finance experts. All contributors are extensively vetted.

Contra: A growing independent platform that vets and connects both job candidates and hiring companies. Best of all, it doesn’t take a commission from projects.

Related: 3 Strategies to Optimize Your Hiring Process and Find the Best Employees

The numbers speak for themselves: businesses engaging freelance professionals report greater confidence and competitiveness, as well as the ability to withstand turbulence, yet legacy beliefs can still cause hesitancy among those keen to hire. Supported by such specialized collaborators, companies can explore new horizons unencumbered by a one-time narrow view of staffing models.

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on ‘Misunderstood’ Bankruptcy Filing

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on 'Misunderstood' Bankruptcy Filing

It may be the end of an era for beloved seafood chain Red Lobster, which officially declared bankruptcy on Monday after months of speculation and dozens of abrupt restaurant closures.

Now, the company is speaking out to loyal customers — and investigating the role that its shrimp supplier may have played in its demise.

Related: Red Lobster Suddenly Shutters Dozens of Locations Without Warning Employees, Begins Auctioning Off Equipment

In a letter posted to social media, Red Lobster thanked customers for their nearly five decades of loyalty and assured the masses that the chain wasn’t going anywhere.

“Bankruptcy is a word that is often misunderstood. Filing for bankruptcy does not mean we are going out of business,” Red Lobster wrote. “In fact, it means just the opposite. It is a legal process that allows us to make changes to our business and our cost structure so that Red Lobster can continue as a stronger company going forward.”

Red Lobster noted that companies including Delta Airlines and Hertz “emerged stronger” after filing for Chapter 11 (Delta in September 2005, Hertz in May 2020) and found ways to bounce back.

“Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and yes, weddings. We’ve been here for them all,” the chain penned. “Red Lobster is determined to be there for these moments for generations to come.”

Red Lobster’s downfall was a slow burn, primarily blamed on an $11 million loss in November 2023 due to the chain rollout of an “Endless Shrimp” promotion. The deal offered customers all the shrimp they could eat for $20, and it proved to be a bit too popular.

Last week, it was reported that stores had begun shuttering without warning around the country, with dozens auctioning off all of their furniture and equipment online and some employees claiming they were given no notice ahead of time.

In a filing on Sunday, Red Lobster CEO Jonathan Tibus called out former CEO Paul Kenny and Red Lobster’s seafood supplier and owner, Thai Union, regarding decisions made surrounding the “Endless Shrimp” promotion and that Red Lobster is “currently investigating the circumstances” around the decision to make the promotion permanent instead of limited-time.

Related: Endless Shrimp Deal Is Too Popular, Red Lobster Loses $11M

“I understand that Thai Union exercised an outsized influence on the Company’s shrimp purchasing,” Tibus wrote. “[Red Lobster is] exploring the impact of the control Thai Union exerted, in concert with Mr. Kenny and other Thai Union-affiliated entities and individuals, and whether actions taken in light of these parties’ varying interests were appropriate and consistent with applicable duties and obligations to Red Lobster.”

Thai Union completed its purchase of Red Lobster in 2020.



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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

The best commencement speeches are often motivational and thought-provoking, leaving new graduates optimistic as they head into the “real world.”

But for the Class of 2024 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, new grads walked away with more than just a wealth of knowledge — they left their ceremony with an extra $1,000 in their pockets.

Related: ‘There Is More To Life Than Work’: Bill Gates Delivers Emotional Message To Graduates About Learning To Take A Break

Last week, the founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, Robert Hale Jr., spoke to grads at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth about their futures and shared a story about a time when his business suffered a $1 billion loss in just one day to explain the importance of perseverance through failure.

“It’s okay to fail,” Hale told graduates. “Life will give you challenges and if you take those challenges you’ll fail from time to time — don’t worry about it … don’t fear failure, understand that it’s just part of the process, and if you use that fear of failure to motivate yourself, you’ll be better for it.”

Then, as he wrapped up, he shocked the audience by announcing he was giving each graduate graduate $1,000 — but there was a catch.

“These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring, and giving,” Hale told students. “Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever.”

The students were given two envelopes with $500 each — one was intended for the students to keep for themselves while the other was for them to give to someone else in need.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg’s Advice to Grads: Banish Self-Doubt, Dream Bigger and Lean In, Always

“As the degree conferral was about to begin, Hale came forward and let the graduates know he had one more bit of advice for them. He told the eager crowd that for him and his wife Karen, ‘the greatest joys we’ve had in our life have been the gift of giving,'” UMass Dartmouth said in a release. “Hale let the Class of 2024 know that the two large duffle bags being brought up on stage by security were packed with envelopes full of cash.”

There were roughly 1,200 students in UMass Dartmouth’s 2024 graduating class.

Hale’s current net worth is an estimated $5.4 billion.



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Stay Prepared on the Road with This $80 Tire Inflator

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Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Business travel is inherently risky because driving poses certain innate hazards. If you’re a business leader sending yourself, team members, or employees out on the road, the least you can do is equip them with the tools they need to operate as safely as possible and get out of a jam if they happen to run into one.

A great tool that’s designed to help fix flat tires, this HOTO Air Pump Pro Portable Air Compressor and Tire Inflator, is on sale for just $79.99 (reg. $119). Promised to be 85% faster than competitors, this four-preset air pump is made to be able to fill a tire in at most five minutes.

Running on a 12V pump motor, this fast-working pump features a powerful battery life that can charge as many as 15 under-inflated tires within a single charge. When you’re filling up, the pump also prevents you from overdoing things with its worry-free automatic stop that ceases operations when the proper inflation is met.

This fantastic tire pump can serve as a great safety tool for business travelers. It can also promote exercise and recreation when used to pump up sports balls and bike tires.

The versatility and quality of this small, compact device have added up to make it a hit amongst users and critics alike. It’s even earned a coveted nomination from MoMa Design.

Don’t forget that for a limited time only, this HOTO Air Pump Pro Portable Air Compressor and Tire Inflator is on sale for just $79.99 (reg. $119).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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