Why the World of Full Time Freelancing Is Growing
History of downsizings, mergers, bankruptcies, offshoring of jobs, a growing international marketplace, and technology changes have all brought dramatic and relatively fast changes to the world of employment. While the economy is stable with a low employment rate right now, there is always the possibility for future economic downturns that can affect our world of work. Current examples of how quickly the shifts can occur are the business impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting dramatic ups and downs in the U.S. stock market.
We experienced the second most dramatic economic downturn in U.S. history, which started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. [Note: the first being the Great Depression in the 1929.] In that recent period, many were impacted either by loss of jobs or doing more with less with a loss of savings. Loyalty to corporations that existed in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s have long come and gone. What we are living in is a massive shift in how we think of work.
We are growing a Free Agent Nation where the individual must now think of themselves as being in the business for themselves – I call it The Business of You.
Free Agent Nation:
Daniel Pink wrote a great book, Free Agent Nation in 2001, where he talks about the death of the “Organization Guy.” He claims the shift from the “Organization Guy” to the “Free Agent” is a shift from twentieth-century economics to a new economy that focuses on the individual.
Who is a free agent?
- The unemployed
- Jobseeker – underemployed or merely seeking change
- The solopreneur – aka freelancer
- Temps – may be working on a project basis for a firm
- Small business owners – Pink calls them microbusinesses of fewer than 20 employees
In 2001 Pink indicates there approximately 33 million or 1 in 4 workers in America who consider themselves free agents. That was when the unemployment rate was 4.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why Do People Need to Think Like a Free Agent?
Mergers/bankruptcies, layoffs, the fast pace of technology changes, the shifting international economy continue – all contribute to the dissolving of jobs as we know them today and create new ones that were unthinkable in years past. Tom Peters, in his 2007 article in Fast Company called “The Brand Called You” says it well when he writes,
“It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.”
The Business of You – Why Should You Care?
If you are fortunate to be working today and love what you are doing, Congratulations!
If you are not fulfilled, not engaged, or not employed, you are ripe and may be ready for developing the Business of You if you have not done so yet.
In the October 2019 Forbes article, Full-time Freelancing Lures More Americans, Elaine Pofeldt indicates the share of freelancers who work full time rose 11 points since 2014, from 17 – 28%. As of 2019, 35% of U.S. workers are now freelancing, representing 5% of the GDP, which is nearly a $1 trillion impact.
I would encourage all those who are or wish to be working to ponder deeply on who they are and what they want to be in the world of work. And then to run it like a business. You can only change the things under your control, and that is you, for better or for worse. While you can influence others, you can’t change them. Take a peek within to where you are in your Business of You. If you haven’t done that before, now is the perfect time to start, and it is never too late.
“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs
As we try to navigate the many roads of what we call life, sometimes we get off the beaten path, make a wrong turn or simply end up in a place that doesn’t seem safe, secure or familiar. It is at times like these, that I have found coaching to be invaluable. Maureen has guided me to a road that has allowed me to continue on life’s journey with renewed energy and focus. Through gentle guidance, questions, pondering, challenging and goal setting, I have found my path, not anyone else’s. I am confident and energized by the possibilities of my current and future life!