Is the independent, freelance sector our next great job generator and a path to living the dream?
Sara Horowitz of the Freelancers Union, writing for The Atlantic, says the surge of freelance workers is the “industrial revolution of our time” (link here):
…Today, careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/coworking spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.
And, perhaps most surprisingly, many of them love it.
This transition is nothing less than a revolution. We haven’t seen a shift in the workforce this significant in almost 100 years when we transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy.
But going it on your own is no piece of cake. Alex Williams, writing for the New York Times, followed the entrepreneurial ambitions of disenchanted, well-credentialed escapees from Corporate America and found that realities can be tough on dreams (link here):
Plan B, it turns out, is a lot harder than it seems. But that hasn’t stopped cubicle captives from fantasizing. In recent years, a wave of white-collar professionals has seized on a moribund job market, a swelling enthusiasm for all things artisanal and the growing sense that work should have meaning to cut ties with the corporate grind and chase second careers as chocolatiers, bed-and-breakfast proprietors and organic farmers.
….The lures are obvious: freedom, fulfillment. The highs can be high. But career switchers have found that going solo comes with its own pitfalls: a steep learning curve, no security, physical exhaustion and emotional meltdowns. The dream job is a “job” as much as it is a “dream.”
Sorting it out
Both views are real. For those who have a promising, marketable new service or product and a desire to create their own business, the independent route may be the one to go. However, virtually every start-up requires grit, determination, countless extra hours, and a dose of luck and timing to succeed.
Creating new enterprises and fostering healthier ways of earning a living are vital parts of a responsive solution to the surfeit of dysfunctional organizations currently in existence and the economic challenges people are facing. I hope that combinations of private, non-profit, and public sector support can help people turn their good ideas and aspirations into reality.