The world of independent consulting involves a very different lexicon than the one seen in traditional employer-employee business relationships. As the independent workforce continues to grow, it is with more importance that one familiarizes one's self with words, phrases, and terms most commonly used in the independent professional landscape.
Additionally, this resource serves as a means of clarification. Many terms listed below have been differently defined, depending on the resources in which they are mentioned. The definitions below directly correspond to the research conducted by MBO Partners’ thought leadership in their composition of the State of Independence report.
The following glossary has been composed with the intent to keep independent professionals up-to-date on these aforementioned terms.
Baby Boomers – The 75 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, still a powerful force in the economy even as they age.
Freelancer – Another name for independent worker. Freelancers often work for customers or individuals rather than companies, sometimes pursuing multiple projects simultaneously, but this is not always the case.
Full-Time Independents – The 17.8 million Americans who work regularly 15 or more hours as independent workers in an average work week. Their average work week is over 35 hours/week.
Generation X – The 66 million Americans born between 1965 and 1980, the third largest demographic cohort in the U.S.
Gross Independent Product – The total revenues generated by the independent workforce in a given year. Currently, this totals $1.15 trillion annually.
High-earning Independents – The 2.9 million independent American workers who report income of more than $100,000 per year from their independent work.
Independent Consultants – Independent workers who perform strategic medium and long-term (more than one month) larger projects (over $10,000) and who generally work across fewer companies sometimes only one at a time.
Independent Contractors – A legal term that indicates that the indicia of the work arrangement supports a compliant non-employer-employee relationship.
Independent Workers in America – The 30.2 million Americans (21 years or older) who work for themselves on a regular basis as freelancers, contractors, consultants, temporary, and on-call workers and those working on fixed term employment contracts of less than 1 year.
Job Makers – Entrepreneurial independent workers who seek independence for opportunity and create, manage, and control their own work assignments, work place, and schedule. They do not want to be anyone’s employee or seek entitlements from the companies with which they work.
Micropreneurs – Owners of small businesses employing fewer than 4 traditional full or part-time employees.
Millennials – Also known as Generation Y, the 75 million strong cohort of Americans born between 1981 and 1997, who are becoming a rising force in the labor market.
Occasional Independent – Someone who does independent work, but does not do so on a regular basis and/or in an average workweek.
On-Demand Economy – The expanding number of companies, platforms, apps, and service providers that help link service providers and customers in a range of industries.
Part-Time Independents – The 12.4 million Americans who work regularly between 1 and 15 hours per week as independent workers in an average work week.
Side-giggers – Part-time independent workers who also have some other primary activity such as having a traditional job, going to school, caregiving, etc.
Solopreneurs – Business owners that work on their own without traditional employees.
Task-takers – Independent workers who rely on task assignments from companies, brokers, or agencies due to the nature of their industry and do not have control over when, where, and what kind of work they do.
Unsatisfied Independents – Independent workers who would prefer a traditional job.
Virtual Small Businesses – Firms or teams of independents that form around project work and look, act, and behave like traditional small businesses – including employing workers – but hire their workers on a contract basis instead of as traditional employees.
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