Are You Free Yet?

Take it from me, managing employees is a full time job. I used to do it. So I am well aware of the extra effort that is needed to keep the herd in motion.

The alternative is to freelance. To plug into projects rather than accept a “position” in a corporate structure. Freelancing is scary. There is no salary safety net. Nor is there the support network around you. You are on your own. It is also liberating.

Forbes asserts that it is “the future of work” .

An estimated one in three Americans—or 42 million people—is a freelancer. By 2020, it’s predicted that the ranks of the self-employed will grow to become half of the U.S. workforce.

Why? The market for freelance consultants is growing for several reasons. First, to solve a given problem, it is cheaper to plug in a consultant for a limited time period than to hire a full time manager. It is less risky as well. But as Forbes brings out, freelancers who focus on a narrow skill package also can get a lot better at what they do. And they have the chance to develop better networks. For example HBR identities”innovation organizers” as a field of expertise.

That all sounds nice, but where are the platforms that empower freelancing as a career path? That kind of platform would help freelancers get more deeply into their field (learning), find partners and clients (networking) and raise performance standards over time in their area of expertise.

I have not seen this yet, but I am keeping an eye out for it. Part of that experience will be better ways to share “modules” of shared learning. Freelancers will need to be able to plug into this kind of learning experience so that they can communicate in networks. They will also need to be able to offer these as MOOC’s or in other digital frameworks. As Steve Blank writes, we are not good at this yet.


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