The ability to work when and where you like, be your own boss, and turn your passion into a career make independent work broadly appealing, but that doesn’t mean it is for everyone. Running your own business can be stressful and it will require more than a few long hours.
Nevertheless, people are often hesitant to make the leap to independent consulting due to stigmas around job security, experience level needed, and income potential. But many of these fears don’t have much factual basis. If you’re considering becoming part of the independent workforce, keep these 10 myths in mind.
Many people view independent contracting simply as an option to earn extra money while in between traditional jobs. While some people will cycle through part-time work and traditional employment, the proportion of people who work independently but would prefer a traditional job is just 24% in 2017—the lowest percentage in our study’s history.
Nearly half of full-time independents say they feel more secure working independently than at a payroll job. Because most independent work with a roster of different clients, they don’t have to rely on a single person for revenue. On the other hand, with a traditional job, you are solely reliant on your employer.
Of course, one of the most stressful parts of working independently can be maintaining a constant pipeline of work. Networking, building your online presence, marketing your services, and partnering with others in your industry are all great strategies for getting new work.
Although your experience will affect the types of work you can accept, as well as what you charge for your services, there’s no minimum amount of experience you need to transition to independent consulting. Millennials are actually a dominant presence in the independent workforce, comprising 38% of full-time independents.
While it is important to set aside funds before going independent—a cushion of three to six months of general expenses is recommended—getting started doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you are working from home, you may only need a desk, comfortable chair, and computer with Internet. Although a home office doesn’t come free, it can be fairly inexpensive if you’re willing to get creative. There are also many budget-friendly collaborative tools that you can use to get your business up and running such as email, video chat, and file-sharing software.
In fact, quite the opposite is true. Independent work allows people to pursue passions that they may not be able to as part of the traditional workforce. The ability to do work they love is often more important to independents than receiving the traditional benefits that come with a 9 to 5 corporate job.
Your income as an independent consultant is only limited by your personal potential. Because you set your own bill rate, you aren’t bound by a salary that you might be stuck with in a traditional job. There are also many tax benefits for independents. Overall, if your skills are in high demand and if you market your services correctly, you have the potential to earn much more than you did as a member of the traditional workforce. In fact, our latest State of Independence research found that 3.2 million—about one in five—full-time independents make more than $100,000.
Yes, some independents find working from home to be isolating, but it’s important to remember that you have many options when it comes to choosing your work environment. Coworking spaces are quickly growing in popularity and offer office equipment and meeting rooms for a relatively low cost. Private office buildings offer a more professional setting. Hot desking or renting hourly spaces are another option that can give you your socializing fix throughout the week.
Although it can certainly help to have contacts you can immediately reach out to, you don’t need a big network to get started as an independent. You simply have to put in the work to find the right connections. Treat networking as a serious component of your work, consider finding and working with a mentor, and make the most out of networking events in order to build up your base of contacts.
With a traditional job, you may be limited by budgets and policies, or a pre-determined career path within a company. As an independent, it’s up to you to choose where you want to take your career and take the professional development steps to make the change happen. Whether you choose to develop a highly-coveted skill or pursue a professional certification to enhance your service offerings, your career development is in your own hands.
Independents love what they do because it offers them flexibility and the ability to be their own boss. Only 10% say they would seek a full-time job, and the large majority plan to remain independent or even build a bigger business. Going independent means pursuing the type of work you love and excel at—there’s no job more real than that!
Do you have more questions about going independent? We’re here to help.
We’ve tracked six ways you can maximize your business in 2016, evaluating everything from bill rate to professional development, with resources to help you accomplish each resolution on your list. Pick one, a few, or all—we’re here to support you every step of the way.
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