Intuitively, it’s safe to say that being self-employed is a rising trend all over the world, with the United States riding this wave of change. After all, the harsh conditions on the job market, as well as increasingly difficult working conditions in traditional environments and branches of the economy would lead us to believe it. It’s also obvious that there are some tangible advantages of self-employment, which no one can really deny. The situation becomes a bit more complicated when one tries to reasonably gauge the number of people who are actually self-employed, or freelancing at the moment in the U.S.. An older poll estimated that some 40 per cent of all US workers would be freelancers by 2020. Another, more recent survey, says that 10.3 million contractors are working independently at the moment. It’s difficult to provide an accurate number, but, for what it’s worth, the tally is high. Why? Among other things, for the seven reasons listed below.
1. A flexible schedule
Yes, flexibility in one’s schedule is one of the top advantages of self-employment that people refer to when thinking of this model for working. However, it’s important to note that flexibility by no means entails a shorter work week. In fact, most people who are self-employed rarely ever get to enjoy a ‘normal’ holiday, or any downtime longer than three days – because, for them, time actually means money. However, it’s often nice to enjoy a stroll in the park during regular office hours, or run an errand at less busy times for traffic in the big city.
Being individualistic is often a disadvantage if you work a regular job. That’s because it also means you’re not a team player, which, in turn, means you might run into trouble for not being cooperative enough. For freelancers, however, reveling in their individualism is one of the advantages of self-employment. They mostly work on their own – sure, they will collaborate with other contractors, or even outsource part of their assignments, but they are, by and large, not part of a traditional team.
3. Doing what you love
A passion for one’s profession can be both a cause for, as well as an advantage of self-employment. In brief, when you are your own boss, it’s entirely up to you to make sure your clients see how passionate you are about what you do. You don’t get to hide behind a company logo or brand name, because you are effectively your own brand. Whether or not that brand is successful is your doing.
4. Independent decision-making
If you’re not comfortable with calling each and every single shot in what you do, then perhaps the self-employed lifestyle is not for you. The thing about freelancing is that you have to decide (and on short notice, most of the time) how to approach a certain proposition or project, or how to respond to a client’s demand. This kind of quick thinking can be regarded as one of the advantages of self-employment – but it’s definitely not for everyone.
5. Project self-management
It’s true that many people resort to being self-employed out of a desire to control all aspects of their work. Micro-management is part of business as usual for freelancers and many of them enjoy not having to report to anyone else, in terms of task completion or project strategy. Bear in mind that this can actually spell trouble, should you ever choose to return to a regular job: think you’ll be able to smoothly transition back to having a boss to report to?
6. Actual efficiency
The self-employed know better than anyone what work ethics and self-discipline mean. They have to put these qualities into practice on a daily basis, or risk compromising a project, contract, or relationship with a client. If you thrive on efficiency, then you can chalk this up on your list of advantages of self-employment. If you’re better off when taking orders, then perhaps you might need to reconsider working a 9 to 5 job.
Many freelancers complain about the solitary nature of what they do. It usually pays off to have a good social support system when you’re self-employed. Yet, on the upside, if you’re working at something you love, you also get to develop a new type of appreciation, both for the job and the self-employed lifestyle, as well as for your own company and presence.