There are countless benefits to pursuing a career as an independent professional: the flexibility to work your own hours, the ability to pursue projects you’re passionate about, and the freedom to learn new skills, just to name a few. It’s therefore no surprise that there are nearly 41 million independent workers today, 47% of which are women.
Women see many benefits in an independent career—74% cite flexibility as an important motivator for working independently and 55% say they love being their own boss. Yet, like all career choices, there are many factors that can play into your decision.
For women considering an independent career, fit is a key consideration. The pros and cons of independence are often two sides of the same coin, depending on your perspective. If you think going solo might be the right career move for you, use these six pros and cons to inform your decision.
As an independent, you don’t have a boss telling you what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. You have the flexibility to build your business how you want to build it. That means getting to choose who you work with, what projects you work on, and even how you portray your personal brand. With flexibility and control, you can truly create and pursue your own priorities.
While the independent lifestyle may sound enticing, with freedom comes responsibly—you’re the one go-to person for it all. Running a business is hard work and if you’re not familiar with how to run your back office, you may have a learning curve to overcome. You should be comfortable making decisions, learning new things, and seeking out help when you’re not sure what to do. Remember, you don’t have a boss dictating your daily tasks; it’s up to you to make things happen.
An independent career allows you to chart your own course. You get to define how, where, when, and with whom you will work. You can choose your area of expertise and broaden it by choosing to pursue new skills. When you run your own business, you aren’t limited to the hierarchy of a corporate organizational chart or job description.
The freedom, however, of an uncharted course inherently has uncertainty. There are no guarantees as an independent. You may experience gaps in income, lose a client, or choose the wrong focus for your business. At times, you will need to regroup and develop a new strategy. Anything can happen—and that is both an advantage and disadvantage of a solo career.
Traditional employment generally encourages workers to build upon a particular career path. Whether you move up or laterally, the very nature of work encourages you to keep growing and reaching new goals.
When you work for yourself, you have the chance to develop your career in any way you choose. Prioritizing growth and opportunity can help you remain energized and engaged. But as an independent, it can be easy to neglect professional development as you focus on managing the day-to-day tasks of your business. Without continuing to nurture your own growth you may become bored or experience burnout.
In a traditional career, you likely have an annual meeting with a manager to reflect on your accomplishments, discuss what you can do better, and plan your next steps. When you work for yourself, it’s up to you to keep track of your professional performance. Even if you’re doing what you love on a daily basis, you’ll likely experience highs and lows. In order to be successful, find out what motivates you—a specific routine, a co-working environment, or small rewards—to stay on task and reach your goals.
An independent career can be the right choice for any woman. It can provide the latitude to be in complete control of your work and allow you to achieve that elusive work-life integration. It can also be deeply fulfilling to choose work that challenges and excites you. Thinking through these pros and cons in the context of your personality and career goals can help you figure out if independence is the right choice for you.
Common independent workforce industry terms defined.
Follow these four steps to meet your business goals as an independent professional.