Work as we know it is changing, and has been evolving now for years. Nobody can tell exactly what the end result will be, but one thing is for sure… there is no turning back. The transition to the “freelance economy” is happening at lightspeed.
There are already 53 million people in the US working as freelancers, that’s a staggering 34% of the total workforce according to a survey conducted in 2014, and the number is set to continue rising. An article published by Forbes gives an estimate that 50% of the US workforce will be independent freelancers by 2020.
Think about that for a second…50% of the entire US workforce will be independent freelancers by 2020.
For those of you considering making the jump into freelancing full-time, there hasn’t been a better time in history to do so than right now. In fact, that is the motivation behind our Freelance Hustler Course we create specifically for Upwork.com Below we’ve laid out four reasons why you should get started building your freelance career TODAY!
Reason One: Peer to Peer Platforms, Helping To Connect Freelancers With New Business
The trend is leaning towards a system where individuals connect with and create their own ways to serve their peers. We are seeing this with the growing number of talent & service matching platforms, such as AirBnB, Uber, and Upwork where anyone can become an entrepreneur overnight. These platforms have removed one of the biggest obstacles that faced freelancers in the past; new business development.
Thanks to these new service and talent matching platforms along with the growing number of devices and useful apps, it is possible to connect with one another on an individual level, and develop business from virtually anywhere. With self discipline and time management tools, building a successful freelance business with sites like Upwork for example, is now more achievable than ever. At Freelance Hustler, we’ve recently launched a Mini-Course and Starter Kit that is jam packed with value and resources to get you started off on the right foot on the platform. You can check it out below:
What’s happening in today’s economy would make the father of Economics proud…
Back in 1776, Adam Smith discussed the benefits of a genuine market economy, with individuals engaging in commerce directly with one another, in his book An Enquiry Into The Nature and Causes Of The Wealth of Nations.
“Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only….
Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of.”
Talk of the “freelance economy” has become a major point of discussion in politics and for some of the current presidential candidates, a potential cause for concern. Individuals like Hilary Clinton, quoted below, are reluctant to put their full support behind the changing tide, as they cannot predict the extent to which it may destabilize Government control.
“This on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”
Economists such as Robert Reich are also voicing warnings that the economy as we know it cannot last with the growing trend towards freelance. The following quotes and figures are taken from his article, ‘The iEverything’.
“It’s now possible to sell a new product to hundreds of millions of people without needing many, if any, workers to produce or distribute it…The ratio of producers to customers continues to plummet.
At its prime in 1988, Kodak, the iconic American photography company, had 1450,00 employees. The same year Kodak went under, Instagram, the world’s newest photo company, had 13 employees serving 30 million customers.”
WhatsApp had 55 employees serving 450 million customers.”
It’s not that jobs jobs are actually disappearing, it’s simply that the way services are being delivered is starting to evolve. Individual freelancers offer the same services as traditional employees, but they are able to do so on their own terms and from the comfort of any workspace they choose.
Reason Two: The Growth of Resources And Support Tailored For Freelancers
The rising popularity of co-working spaces provides more evidence that the “freelance economy” is here to stay. Co-working spaces remove obstacles that traditionally faced independent workers. Freelancers can choose to be around other innovative thinkers, with access to resources that they can use at an affordable rate. There are no big overhead costs to worry about and the support is invaluable. Most workspace providers offer meeting rooms, printing equipment and even access to other contractors that can support the administrative functions of the freelancer’s business.
John D. Peebles, joint founder of The Exchange 202, a popular co-working space, describes the shared space concept as being “all about controlled serendipity.” He goes on to say, ”You put people in a space where they will be bumping into each other and good things will happen.”
We are also seeing more highly qualified workers joining the independent freelance forces, often known as Super Temps. In opposition to what was once considered a black eye on the CV, many highly specialized professionals, such as lawyers and CFOS are choosing to pursue “project careers.” This gives individuals complete control over their work hours, their salaries and their specializations.
“Attorneys, CMOs, and consultants with world-class training are choosing to work independently”.
The following, taken from Fast Company, demonstrates this: “By 2040, the job market will consist of part-time assignments, portfolio careers, and entrepreneurialism. Instead of day-in, day-out work consisting of much of the same responsibilities, a “career, then, will be composed of thousands of [short-term] assignments spread out over a lifetime”.”
The “freelance economy” may have been given a push by the recent economic downturn, when companies downsized, and employees realized that ‘job security’ no longer exists. The Associated Press reports that 53% of America’s new college graduates are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. This means that young adults, with heavy student loans, are being forced to take lower-wage jobs, such as waiting, bartending or reception work. This provides young people with a strong incentive to turn to freelancing much earlier in their careers. At Freelance Hustler, we’ve put together a Starter Kit that teaches people how to leverage their current skills and jump into the mix even if they don’t think they’re ready yet.
Reason Three: Increased Flexibility – Income, Hours, Career Path!
People are also finding that the benefits of the freelance career is an even stronger motivator to continue along this path. No more rigid guidelines, career ladders, caps or ceilings. Being a freelance entrepreneur allows individuals to set their own schedule, their own fees and serve their own clients.
Once people turn to life as a freelance entrepreneur, many have no desire to return to the traditional salaried work, as Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork says here.
“People are increasingly building flexible careers on their own terms, based on their passions, desired lifestyle and access to a much broader pool of opportunities than ever before in history. While we are still relatively early in the rise of the freelance workforce, there’s no doubt its growth will continue. Professionals are not only turning away from traditional employment, once they do most have no desire to go back.”
Kasriel’s company, Upwork is one way that many people are dipping their toes into the freelance world (learn more about how we teach people to leverage Upwork to build their freelance businesses, below)
While barriers to entry for freelance entrepreneurs have reduced, there is now more than ever a responsibility on the individual to keep their knowledge current, invest in themselves, and take their independent career by the reigns. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, suspects that America could be greatly affected if this does not happen.
“Whether America will be America or not hinges on whether we have a downward spiral around wages. People know things are changing. They don’t feel like anyone has a handle on it. There’s a yearning for a political vision that addresses that.”
But any fears that freelance entrepreneurs will be faced with long dry spells with no income seem to be unfounded. According to the Pew Research Centre analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau more than a third of freelancers surveyed reported that demand for their services increased in the past year, and they have forecast increases in the upcoming year.
Reason Four – Companies Are Getting On Board With The Idea!
It is also important to remember that the freelance economy will be a benefit to businesses, many of whom are already starting to change with the flow, taking advantage of specialists whose services they can employ as and when they require them. This is far cheaper than having said specialist on the payroll, and having to account for holidays, sick leave and so on. The New York Times gives Apple as an example of a company working with this model.
“Apple is a vivid example of the trend toward relying on outsiders, directly employing fewer than 10 percent of the more than one million workers around the world who are involved in designing, making and selling all those iMacs and iPhones.”
More companies are developing Freelance Management Systems, as described in an article published on Forbes, this will help them to: “access on-demand talent, enhance labor compliance, mitigate worker misclassification risk and optimize costs models. 2015 will be the year when every business using independent workers starts talking about the need for a FMS to effectively scale a freelance workforce.”
So what are you waiting for?
Work as we know it is changing. With the huge rise of peer-to-peer platforms, incredible specialized freelance resources in every major city, the changing opinions of businesses to suit the freelance economy and of course the ability to live flexibly are just 4 of the most compelling reasons to make the transition.
There is no doubt that the economy will change as a result of what’s going on, so don’t be left behind! NOW is the time to jump aboard and forge a niche in the freelance world, taking your own personal and career development into your own hands. The only limits are the ones you impose yourself. There is plenty of opportunity available for everyone, we can’t wait to see what you will bring to the table 🙂