Last week President Obama outlined a new job creation plan. There was a continued focus on small business and their role in the economy. Yet, long before the economic crisis there was a quiet revolution transforming the workplace. Daniel Pink called it the “freelance nation” and it has now become a steady march of the independents. These bold professionals were already creating jobs by choosing to work with multiple employers on multiple projects.
There is a common perception that many people become “consultants” only when they fail to find work after a job loss. MBO Partners debunks that myth in a first of its kind study that shows a mere 24% of independent consultants chose to become independent because of loss of a job due to lay-off, termination or closure.
As someone who became self-employed at the start of Michigan’s economic slide I am in the 76 percent that chose my fate with eyes wide open. I wanted to choose the type of work I did and the clients I served and only focus on the things that I was not only good at but truly enjoyed. Following your bliss drives 75% of independents who stated that doing something they love is more important than making money.
Up until this time we have only had bits and pieces of information about the growing “freelance nation.” This study is the first to offer a breadth of facts and data about a growing work trend. It can also provide valuable insight to those who may be considering an independent career.
Technology has made it much easier to create an independent career. You can communicate and deliver work to clients near and far. An independent career however, is not the 1970s version of the “artiste” with a casual and often undisciplined approach to work. In addition to your specialized skills, you must have excellent communication skills and an ability to remain focused on project deliverables.
Working with different clients, often in different geographies is stimulating but also has unique challenges. It is essential to be able to clearly articulate project deliverables up front, have an organized schedule for billable hours and a disciplined structure for managing multiple clients and responsibilities.
Being independent has its challenges but like the 40% of independents in the study, I will never go back to traditional employment.
Share your own thoughts on independence in the comments. Are you an independent? What has been your experience? Thinking of going solo? What is your motivation?
- 8 Tips for Building & Sustaining a Thriving Consultancy Practice (businessinsider.com)