Maybe you thought the world of the freelancer was dead. Freelancing is alive, well, and it’s poised to take off like never before over the next 10 years.
Working as a freelancer over the last several years, I’ve been surprised at the growth in the freelance community in that time. While some started out in this field as a way to make ends meet, many others have simply chosen freelancing as a way to go independent and hone a craft they love. The “remote work” movement has helped as well. We are likely set to see more and more “non-traditional” workers making a play to dominate the workforce. Look at it however you want, but the Freelancer, as a global player who will redefine the world of work for decades to come, is not going anywhere.
Evolutionary theory teaches us that a species does not just dominate the natural hierarchy for no particular reason. There has to be some cause, some interaction of value and benefit to the overall ecosystem that makes a species thrive.
Here are some ways in which freelancers, as a whole, have managed to make inroads in the workforce, replacing fulltime employees, big name consulting companies, rockstar agencies, and outsourcing companies. As you will see, it’s not necessarily that freelancers are the cheapest option for getting results, or that freelancers have the most experience of all available worker options. Rather, when it’s all said and done, there’s something compelling about the Freelancer as a direct path to getting the average business the results it needs.
1. Freelancer vs Your Full Time Office Employees
I’ve got nothing against hiring full time office employees. Every serious company kind of needs them. But the world has changed. The culture of remote work is now deeply embedded in many companies, making full time office work kind of optional. In a way, freelancers did not evolve to be better for the modern work place. Rather, the modern work place itself shifted. It evolved to a place where it kind of needs a new type of worker: the freelancer.
This is not just sentiment either, although, yeah, I’m fully in favor of every business hiring freelancers. But let’s see why this now makes sense, perhaps more than ever before.
Freelancer Advantage #1: Lower Overhead, Even If You Are A Fortune500 Company, Especially Then
Yeah. Freelancers win hands down. They involve way less overhead, as in, waaaaay less. I’m not advocating cutting benefits and frills for your full time office employees, don’t get me wrong. Benefits are nice to have, and if you want to keep your in-office employees happy, you kind of need them. It shows your commitment to your workers.
But freelancers don’t need benefits in order to take your project and execute it to the best quality. In that sense, forget what I said above about how they have not evolved, they have evolved to be the lower overhead option for executing a brilliant idea.
Give me 1,000 freelancers and I could take over the world…where I’m joking, but something like that.
Freelancer Advantage #2: Self-Management vs Management Requirement
Face the music: freelancers require way less management, as in waaaaaay less! And if you are an entrepreneur or high level strategic manager at the executive level, then your time is worth its weight in milligrams of gold. You getting tied down managing an entire stable of office employees might satisfy your micromanagement tendencies, but it’s costing your organization dearly.
You could be freeing up all those hours to spend more time meeting a big potential new client, or figuring out how to create the biggest year yet for your brand, not wondering why Johnny is late to work again today, and why Becky keeps texting on her phone.
Freelancers have evolved to need little to no management. I’m not saying they are more professional, some are, some are not, but definitely, on the whole, they require way less management.
2. Big Company Consultants or Freelancer? Think Again
Another matchup you will run into in the workplace is that of freelancers versus big company consultants. If you’re working with big name consulting companies, well, congratulations. Chances are, if you can afford big name consulting companies, your business has got to third base more than a few times, and that’s a good thing.
However, you still might do better with a crack team of freelancers than your big name consulting company analysts or associates.
Freelancer Advantage #1: Freelancers Can’t Rest On The Big Company’s Laurels
Every freelancer has to develop a reputation for themselves in the market place. If you’re a bad apple as a freelancer, clients will know. If your projects are always bombing, word gets around. You get less work, your existing clients leave, and you have to start from the bottom all over again. Sooner or later, the typical freelancer gets good at their craft, as in reeeaaaaal good. There’s a simple reason for that: they don’t have some big-name consulting company like Ernest & Young or Deloitte to hide behind. Chances are, if a freelancer has lasted 5 years in the industry at all, they can out-slug any big name consultant save those at the executive level who’ve seen it all.
Freelancer Advantage #2: Freelancers Have Drunk Less Of The Kool-Aid
Freelancers are an independent lot, rather unlike big name consulting company analysts. There’s a reason for that as well. Just like with any standard process, consulting company recruitment and training programs are geared up to churn out cookie cutter analysts and associates. Throw those bright boys and gals into an unfamiliar pool, and they might struggle.
Freelancers, however, are less likely to read from the choir book whenever they find themselves in unfamiliar situations. They actually look around them to figure out that things have changed and they think on their feet. More often than not, their training has been through personal experience and they’ve gone through the school of the hard knocks. Choose your pick!
3. Outsourcing Companies vs Freelancers: Cheap Is Not Always Best
Business leaders are anything but unimaginative. Lately, a trend has emerged where even large businesses began outsourcing core business functions to cheap outsourcing companies everywhere around the world where things could be done for less. Let’s see how freelancers could have saved them all a world of pain.
Freelancer Advantage #1: Freelancers Communicate Better, In English
I got nothing against outsourcing companies in low-cost countries that allow you to run some very straight-forward cost arbitrage for some of the work your business needs to get done. It’s just that, often, it’s not as straight-forward as you think. You might be paired with some company representatives who can’t speak English at all, have different expectations of what working together entails, or are simply a pain to deal with.
All while you could simply have gotten the job done with the freelancer who lives 5 miles down from where your office is located. Going abroad is not always the best option, even if it costs less.
Freelancer Advantage #2: Freelancers Are More Entrepreneurial, What’s Not To Like?!
People in big companies, in order to maintain any semblance of stability at all, must get used to living in situations where things that are not quite optimal are tolerate, because the cost of change would simply be too disruptive to be worth it at that particular moment. As a result, big companies become less and less entrepreneurial over time.
If you’re successful, that’s your company that this will happen to, happened to Microsoft when it became large enough, and likely is happening to Apple as well. Take an organization like a large foreign outsourcing company, and an environment where those workers have very little power over the decision making on a project, because they are working in two rather static large-company environments, and you have a recipe for the most un-entrepreneurial problem-solving you can imagine.
And this happens to businesses like yours that need just that entrepreneurial, fresh pair of eyes to think up creative solutions that unlock value inside your static enterprise. Freelancers don’t work miracles, but in a situation like that, they are the closest thing to a silver bullet you are likely to have available. Freelancers are more entrepreneurial, and it’s smart to deploy them on your toughest business problems.
Freelancers Will Rule The World Of Work
I’m thrilled to see so many professionals awaken to the power of freelancing and its viability as a career path. Sure, there are pitfalls in freelancing:
- Low-balling clients who expect you to work for nothing
- Colleagues who can’t fathom why you have chosen freelancing
- Partners and spouses who might discourage your career selection
And a slew of other potential minefields you must learn to manage. But the rewards can be so worth it. Every freelancer is the owner of his or her own little small business. If you approach it right, that little acorn could grow into a real giant oak. And you get to call your own shots, paint your own painting, you get to create the world the way you want it.
The best part about it is, it’s about to get a whole lot better and more fun for those who choose to freelance. Remote working, 5G technology, the rise of tech-connected Millennials in the economy all point to a future where more workers will be mobile and freelance. It will be much more common for people to travel around and work on the go, as freelancers, perhaps never stepping into an actual office at all for work, but working when and where they please.
In such a future, freelancers will rule the world of work. And they will be a whole lot less stressed than traditional office workers used to be, because they will be their own bosses. If they don’t like something, they can change it, duh! And their earnings will be higher too, thanks to more and more high value freelance roles competing for their talent.
Freelancers of the world unite
So you know where we think things will go. Help us prepare for what comes next. There’s a lot of work to be done.
We are building something special for freelancers at Towers Of Zeyron. We want to help in the transformation of the way we work, in ways that improve freelancer happiness and helps the world see our importance as freelancers. This is why, in the months ahead, we’ll be launching our Towers Of Zeyron Global Program, a new way to freelance. If you’re interested in in learning more, sign up on our waitlist to be notified when the program launches.
Freelancers of the world, unite!