The future of self-employed consultants
September 27, 2018 11:36
On past week, a close friend of my wife asked me about my feeling and vision about the future of consulting activity and freelancers. He was not familiar with the independent status and was deeply curious to understand the underlying system. As a bonding experience, we’ve decided to put down in writing our discussion.
« Julien, how is self-employment moving? »
Self-employment is definitely accelerating.
Today, 36% of the US workers (57.3 million) are freelancers who work from home and they collectively contribute $1.4 trillion to the economy every year : it’s (just) a 30% increase since 2016. By 2020, 43% of the total U.S. workforce will be freelancers and this number will reach 55% by 2027. Traditional employee will become the new minority.
In the United-Kingdom, based on the report of the Office of National Statistics, employment patterns have totally shifted over the past decade. Traditional full-time employment remains stable, while self-employment has grown by 25%.
One study (from Stanford Graduate School of Business) shows that working from home improves work performance by 13% and companies also observed a $2,000 increase per persona in annual profit after letting employees work from home. More and more companies are also experimenting 4 days week, so this is the sign something is moving globally.
« How do you explain this trend in freelance activity ? »
The explanations can be found in the fact that the barrier to entrepreneurship has radically decreased thanks to massive use of internet and the easy access to knowledge. Nowadays you can learn anything in a very cost-efficient way and start your own business with a computer and a phone only.
Furthermore, I feel a revival of the individual quest for freedom and identity : people want to be the master of their time and take control of their life. They’re looking for meaning and they’re craving for new experiences that convey a sense of fulfillment.
I’d add that companies are more virtual than ever, and are looking for flexible resources in a fickle environment, this is why outsourcing service companies and freelancers are so popular. Everything can be subcontracted.
« Which sectors do you advise me to reach? »
Biotechnology sector is one of the top provider of opportunities for the 21rst century.
But let's be transparent and objective, the major providers of freelance missions will be AI and robotics in the coming years. For the moment there’s a lack of skills on the market place, supply and demand are dramatically unbalanced, so the independent experts in these sectors will have access to an overwhelmed number of crazy opportunities.
« How do freelance workers find consultancy missions ? »
In the past, most opportunities were coming from word of mouth and freelancers used to exclusively work with people they know pretty well coming from their inner circle of acquaintances. But I think this model is going to become a bygone age.
« Why? »
For several reasons.
First, the demand is global and recruiters are looking for fast return of investment : you can’t ask an European freelancer to develop your business in South America and vice versa: she doesn’t have the appropriate connections, neither the culture or the language.
Second, markets are becoming too complex. Companies are based in several countries working on several time zones, depending on different local regulatory rules, and decision markers are spread all over the globe.
Third, the level of expertise is increasing exponentially. People are more than just « experts » : they’re experts in a particular subject, in a special niche, so it’s impossible to be confortable with any topic even in your field. So, rather than simply rejecting the mission, which could be misinterpreted (lack of ambition, lack of skills…), it is better to outsource your client's request to another trusted freelancer.
« What is your vision of freelancebiotech.com? »
I’ve founded Freelance Biotech in order to give people the opportunity to start self-employment activity but also to improve their skills by joining a tribe who share the same ambition and taste for freedom. Of course, we’re all fond of life sciences.
When I discuss with people they tell me the first value of freelancebiotech.com is 1-to-1 connection between recruiters and freelancers for a particular mission. It’s quite simplistic. The value of our platform is in people who have made the choice to join a community and our strength lies in the tribe.
I’ve noticed that many struggling consultants feel alone because they lack a support network to provide encouragement and advice. This is the dark side of home office : a deep feeling of isolation may afflict you. Sharing with your peers is always the best source of information, so we strongly invite our freelance community to share information, good practices and especially to establish contacts.
On our platform, freelancers can also share positions and this is the true beauty. Some of them are overwhelmed by missions, and they need to learn to delegate and share. It will definitely change their life for the better. Never underestimate the value a total stranger can bring to your business: vantage point, geographic coverage, expertise...I've checked all the profiles one-by-one myself, and can guarantee there’s a huge potential on our platform.
Freelancers think they’re competitors fighting each other for the same posted mission. They’re wrong. They’re working together to bring more value to their clients and to get more freedom in return.
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