Do you daydream about working from the beach? Never sitting in a cubicle again? What about being your own boss? Those dreams are closer to reality than you might think.
Independent workers—whether they’re freelancers, contractors or solopreneurs—are on the rise. The number of people who work for themselves grew 14% from 2001 to 2012, and today 14.6 million people are self-employed in the U.S. That’s 10% of the national workforce. And fortunately for those who eschew the traditional 9 to 5, there’s never been a better time to be self-employed.
The idea of working for yourself certainly isn’t a new one, so why is the moment particularly ripe to make the move into self-employment?
The way we work has changed
An uncertain economic climate and subsequent cost-cutting measures have changed the way we approach our careers. We used to work at the same companies for years on end; now these places can disappear overnight. Contractors have become more attractive to companies than full-time employees. For one thing, health benefits are expensive. It’s also easy to find talent through relatively inexpensive pairing platforms like Contently and TalentBrew. There’s less of an incentive to commit to costly, in-house recruitment teams or the full-time employees they find. We’ve come to realize job security is no longer a guarantee. It’s safer, even more practical, to invest in your own talent and skills rather than rely on a company to ensure your future.
Rise of the passion economy
More than ever, we are straying from the status quo. Rather than pursuing established professions, people are creating jobs and specialties that allow us to make our own rules, follow our dreams, and prioritize our passions. While it isn’t enough to simply have an idea, access to technology and education have made it much easier for us to take action. Innovators around the world are seizing the opportunity to build businesses and create products they’d previously only dreamed of.
Work from anywhere, anytime
Technological innovations have not merely eased barriers to working for yourself; in many cases, they’ve nearly demolished them. Almost everyone has a smartphone today. The accessibility of mobile devices and cloud-based computing makes communication instant, seamless, and portable. Anyone with a cell phone and an internet connection can participate in idea exchanges and meaningful discussions.
Technology also allows for greater freedom of movement than ever before. Why wait for an email to come through on your desktop PC when your computer is small enough to fit in your pocket? We don’t need physical conference rooms to hold productive meetings when we have hundreds of video conference services such as Skype and Google Hangouts. Offices are mobile and no longer restrained by four walls and the hefty rents that usually accompany them. Coworking spaces offer a cost effective alternative (and sense of community) when a physical office is necessary. We can see and talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, even share a screen. Business owners can communicate more freely with their employees and reach customers (and grow their businesses) more easily. Such simple, powerful tools—available at our fingertips—have become the simple, powerful foundation to any business.
We used to be limited and siloed by the skills we learned via traditional education. Marketers did marketing. Our designers designed. But the paths to education are opening. If you want to become a freelance designer, you can learn how from the most experienced practitioners in the industry. Want to bring your marketing skills to the next level by learning front-end web development? There’s a class for that. It’s easier than ever to learn all of the skills required to build a business. This ability will give you the freedom and autonomy to run your own.
The world is your oyster
Technology has opened doors that used to be closed to those looking to work on their own. Communication has never been easier. We are no longer limited by the offices in which we work or the skills we lack. This is the best time to hustle. Have an idea you’d like to turn into reality?
There’s never been a better time to pursue your career goals.