By far, the most frequent questions asked of me, professionally, have to do with making the switch from employee to solopreneur. Or from employee to contractor, or freelancer, or entrepreneur, or self-employed, and so on. Whatever your perspective. It transcends demographics, industries, skills, and experience levels. People at every age and stage of their life, in a variety of careers, are inquiring about leaving the world of employment to strike out on their own.
In fact, I know so many people who are thinking of making the switch from employee to solopreneur, or independent contractor, or freelancer, that I often think the world of employment is on the brink of being decimated by mass resignations of the workforce any day now.
Of course, that’s not even close to reality. For a couple of reasons.
Employees – No Longer First Choice?
First, corporations aren’t desperately seeking to hold onto their employees these days. In fact, the trend is just the opposite. Organizations are looking for contractors and freelancers more often as a means to get the job done. (Intuit 2020 Report: 20 Trends That Will Shape The Next Decade) The world economy continues to shift more toward a “gig” economy, where resources are hired to deliver tasks and projects, rather than hired to fulfill the role of “employee of company x”. In many situations, this is a less expensive option for organizations, even though contractor rates on the surface seem high in comparison to employee salaries. But beneath the surface, it’s the associated expenses related to staffing employees that drive companies to engage “per project” resources more frequently. Employee benefits, paid time off, sick leave, overtime pay, on-boarding investment, professional development and training costs, off-boarding investment, and more add significant bloat to the salary line item. With contractors and freelancers, what you see is what you get. Work is estimated, budgeted, contracted, delivered, and paid for. The end.
The Courage to Change
Second, of the many people who are thinking of making the switch from employee to solopreneur, most will fail to pull the trigger. It’s not so much that they’ll fail at their attempt, it’s that they won’t even try. A small tragedy, really, for those who have the desire and likely the capability, but simply lack the courage to realize their dreams. On the other hand, for those of us who pulled the trigger years ago and make our day-to-day living as solopreneurs or contractors, we needn’t ever really worry about a flooded market. There will always be just enough fear to hold back just enough people.
At the same time, a few will certainly dare to take the leap, and so I’ve decided that the next few posts are for them. Or for you, if you count yourself among them. There are all kinds of “how to” and “tips and tricks” posts out there on the interwebs which can give some great tactical examples of steps to take to make this transition. For my part, I’d like to focus on sharing some thoughts and experiences about what it’s really like to live without a pay-check. Because all of those people who are to afraid to pull the trigger? Well, they have a point. It’s terrifying.