Many people dream of having the autonomy of freelancing, but cite job security as being the thing that keeps them from leaving their job. Often, in that conversation, they’ll use a phrase like “especially in this economy.”
That’s simply wrong. In this economy, the greatest asset you have is your talent.
It’s not that complicated, really. If you’re talented at what you do, and there’s a need for that talent, then you’ll always be able to find work. The end.
The truth is, whether you have a long-term job at a big company or work for yourself as a freelancer, you should always anticipate the coming of times when you might have less work and income than you’d like. In fact, the best way to prevent that is to always expect it.
Of course, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate your talent. If you can do that, then there will always be people who will want you to do work for them.
If you are also personable, enjoy meeting new people, and have some basic social skills, then freelancing can offer you greater job security than any job ever could.
Still don’t believe me?
Okay, here’s 10 reasons why.
1. You Will Grow
One of the best ways to develop your skills is by working with the most talented people you can find.
When you work for a company, your influence over who might be sitting in the cubicle next to you might be marginal, at best. When you’re a freelancer, you can choose to work with talented people — and avoid wasting your life’s precious time babysitting negative problem-makers.
2. You Do Better Work
Too often in corporate culture, projects stagnate because of poor leadership, internal politics, death by committee, or just the flat-out apathy that can develop when employees aren’t empowered to overcome obstacles.
As a freelancer, your next job is only as good as the last work you did. So you’re always motivated to perform at your best and to find ways to get people to work together, because you care more about how the finished work will reflect on your personal brand.
3. You Have a Better Ability to Control Your Income
If you’re doing great work, growing profits, and winning business for a company, you may or may not get the recognition you deserve. (Here’s a secret: companies only hire employees so they can use them to make a profit.)
When you freelance, you have the ability to give yourself a raise at any time. Simply raise your rates! When you land that big contract, you will profit from it.
That’s much better than having all your efforts going to earn your boss another quarterly bonus, right?
4. You Create a Stronger Network of Contacts
As a freelancer, you’re constantly meeting and interacting with new people, both online and in the real world.
If you’re in a static corporate career, you may not think about networking until you lose your job. Then, it can be tough to ramp-up quickly, join groups, and meet new people.
On the other hand, freelancers are always building and maintaining a stable of contacts. These contacts can include recruiters, past coworkers, friends, and other professional peers.
If you had to bet, who do you think would be able to find work quicker when in a bind — the careerist or the freelancer?
5. You Can’t Be a Whiner or Complainer
It’s not unusual for companies to bring contract workers in when a project has already fallen behind on timing or there’s a resource bind. It happens all the time.
As an employee, it’s easy to point fingers and criticize your clients and fellow coworkers. Freelancing forces you to be more solutions-oriented, behave in a more stand-up manner, and take a more rational approach.
This helps to win admiration from your clients and to attract more business.
After all, no one wants to work with a complainer.
6. You Become a More Progressive Worker and Less Reactionary
Company corridors can be a difficult place to inspire change. Things are done in a certain way, because…well, that’s the way it’s always been done.
If you, or your company, have a just-collect-a-paycheck and don’t-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke attitude, you’re going to get left behind as markets change and technology advances.
Freelancers get exposed to a diverse assortment of ideas, business models, workflow processes, and technologies. This helps you to stay fresh and on the cutting-edge of the best practices in your field.
It also makes you more adept at navigating your business through changing markets while producing relevant, progressive work.
7. You Will Be More Well-Rounded
Working for a company can mean having a very narrow and limited job focus. You are just a cog in the big machine.
When you run your own business, you don’t just do the creative work. You are also your own account person, your own operations manager, your own finance director, your own HR department, and so on.
Wearing many different hats gives you greater appreciation for other people, and the challenges they face in doing their jobs. This helps you to engage in deeper conversations with these people, pick-up tips to apply to your own business, and grow your network of contacts.
Plus, having a broad background and a well-rounded assortment of skills makes you more valuable and insightful as a contractor.
8. You Will Be a Better Negotiator
Most people are limited in their experience with negotiations. They only negotiate when they buy a house or car, or get offered a new job. Because of that, negotiating is often a very stressful and frustrating experience for them. As a result, they may fold their position too early due to nerves, or come across as too pushy or aggressive when they become overly adrenalized.
The freelance life leads to ongoing negotiations of time, rates, scope, and roles. As a result, you’ll become more savvy and less emotionally attached when you negotiate something.
You’ll become a regular Donald Trump in no time at all.
9. You’ll Be in a More Strategic Position
The idea that any real job security exists is a complete illusion. Ask any former GM employee or newspaper journalist what they think about the concept.
Job security used to mean getting a cushy job with a big company. But now, big companies have become vulnerable in the face of economic downturns and emerging new media.
You’re better off if you can operate your own small, nimble, cheetah-like business, rather than a large lumbering elephant. Cheetah-like business have fast reflexes and can respond quickly. Elephant enterprises appear stronger, but are slower to respond.
Plus, they have more competitors focused on taking them down.
10. You Will Be Happier
Freelancing isn’t all fun and games. You probably won’t be running through fields of lavender singing with your clients. It can be challenging and very stressful. But, at the end of the day, you’re your own boss and you can choose how you want to approach things from both a work and ethical perspective.
As far as I can tell, you’re only living one life at the moment. So, you might as well position yourself in a way that lets you use your talents to their fullest extent and allows you to reap the benefits.
If you can do it right, freelancing is more rewarding in all ways.
To Sum it Up…
When you step back and look at the way work is done today, it’s not hard to see that a successful freelancer has better job security and a better ROI than an equally successful employee.