In Part 1 of this article, we discussed the current state of independence as well as the key challenges facing independent workers today. We learned that independent workers carry the burden of finding new projects, managing back office tasks, determining what to charge, servicing their clients, paying income and self employment tax and funding insurance benefits. While the challenges are very real, there are also immeasurable opportunities for those willing to take the leap.
Control: This is the most-cited reason people go independent. Many in today’s workforce are fed up with traditional work – wasting time in meetings, office politics, feeling less productive than you know you could be, never ending deadlines and making money for the organization and not you. Independent work puts you in control and frees you from frustrations of traditional employment. In fact, nowadays, traditional work is no longer considered as secure: companies are quick to change out workers as business demands are volatile and profits will always dictate the fate of employees. This is the reality of the new project economy.
With an independent career, you can take control, build up the skills to diversify your revenue stream and never again be held hostage to the whimsical ebbs and flows of traditional employment. When you learn to operate as an independent professional, you are in charge of your own career destiny and can apply your talent to the work you want, be as efficient as you can, and keep the income you generate.
Your livelihood will not depend on any one organization and the risks of political maneuvering, downsizing, mergers and expense cutting. As an independent, you are in control of your schedule and have the freedom to focus your expertise and build your work around what you love and what motivates you. Work-life balance and lucrative income becomes a reality when you choose when, where and what to work on.
Time: Time is another huge benefit of independence. The ability to structure your day how and when you want provides a flexibility and mobility not found in traditional work. Consultants have more opportunity than employees to strike that work-life balance chord that elude so many. Additionally, the rise of cloud-based collaborative tools and real-time social applications, such as iChat, Skype, and mobile devices, make it possible for work to occur anytime, anywhere. No 9-5? No problem. If midnight finds you at your most effective you can synchronize your work accordingly. Being independent makes you the master of your own time.
Money: Most people work to make money and independents are no exception. However, the independent has direct control over their income. Independent consultants have the option to work as much or as little as they like, charge what they like (assuming clients see the value in what you are delivering), and deliver the work as either fixed price, on retainer or by the hour or day. You can scale your workload up or down to fit your income goals.
The independent is free of traditional salary constraints and fixed increases in income. As an independent worker you can take on more work as you choose or need. Another advantage is the ability to add training or new areas of expertise that enable you to increase your rates and focus on high value expertise. You can also take advantage of efficient technologies, processes and low cost services that will enable you to further leverage your value, be more productive and earn more income
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to decide if independent work is right for you. However, fully understanding the challenges and opportunities can allow you to assess your readiness for transitioning from the traditional workforce to building a totally self-sufficient career.
Still questioning? Take MBO Partner’s new quiz “Are You Ready To Go Solo" and see if you get the green light to so solo!
By Gene Zaino, president and CEO of MBO Partners