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Taking a leap of faith: why choose to become an independent professional?

Written by

Jessica Marrazzo

Posted on

January 12, 2021

The world of work is changing, and so is the language that we use to talk about our jobs. The global economy has transformed the workplace, transitioning from the idea of having a “job for life” to the concept of working independently in a gig economy. In fact, the average worker now generally has 10 jobs before they turn 40, with 12-15 jobs on average throughout their lifetime. 

So what do we mean when we talk about becoming an independent professional? Essentially, it’s about leaving behind a long-term salaried job at a company in favour of flexible contracts or self-employment. 

There are many different names used to define this type of work, the most common being freelancing, interim, contracting or consulting. Traditionally, these types of contracts have been welcomed across the board in start-up brands, as well as in finance, tech and creative roles in more established companies. Although they have not been as commonplace in the corporate world, Forbes has revealed that the Covid-19 has triggered an increase in flexible work across the board, from B2B to retail.

The new normal

If you’re thinking about working independently, you’re not alone. In fact, there are around 11 million European independent workers today, making them the fastest growing group in the continent’s labour market. The same trend can be seen in the US, where 50% of the entire workforce is set to be independent consultants or freelancers by 2027. Although it’s true that an increasing amount of the Millennial and Gen-Z generations are seen to be fueling this career change, research actually shows that over 57% of freelancers are aged 35 and over, highlighting the importance of the experience that they can bring to business.

It’s a shift that can no longer be ignored. As this sector of the workforce grows, an increasing number of companies are enjoying the flexibility, expertise, insights and speed that freelancers can bring to projects and processes.

Why take the leap?

After speaking to the Dweet Community, we realise there are many different paths that people take before starting their independent journey. Often, they have previously built up their professional experience and honed their knowledge in-house or in agencies before making the transition. However, there are four key areas that often contribute to helping them make that lifestyle choice:

Freedom to choose clients and projects.

One of the greatest advantages of working independently is being able to guide your own career – and 74% of people state this is their biggest driver. Not only can you choose work based on your interests, but also the contracts that fit around your lifestyle and existing commitments.

Increased flexibility.

Not only can you choose flexible working hours to accommodate an improved work-life balance, you can also choose to be flexible on location. For example, the rise in remote working might open up new job opportunities for you in different time zones, while fixed-term missions allow you to also grow your career while experiencing working in different cities.

Improved work-life balance.

91% of people said that making the leap into freelancing had improved their quality of life. Many people find that their career goals adapt as they move through different life phases. If you’re looking for a better work-life balance, working independently ultimately gives you complete control over your own time, finances and commitments to achieve the mix that works for you.

Greater network.

There’s no doubt that working independently enables faster growth opportunities compared to a traditional full-time job. By working with different clients and connecting with new teams on a regular basis, you’ll quickly grow your network and gain exposure within the industry. 

Things to consider

As with any career choice you make, there are some key points you need to carefully consider before working independently.

Manage job security.

Although the traditional “feast and famine” model is rapidly changing to encourage more long-term contracts, going independent means that you have to establish your own job security. This means you’ll need to protect yourself against fluctuating income and unpredictability by creating an online “personal brand” presence and actively looking for your next opportunity. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve created the Dweet Jobs Board, allowing you to engage with relevant missions that you’d be interested in taking further.

Admin matters.

When you work for yourself, you’ll need to manage your own tax bill, pay into a private pension, budget for taking planned holidays and consider taking out business insurance – all things that would usually be covered by an employer. Although these things can be easily overlooked, it’s so important to plan and budget for this extra protection: trust us, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Look after yourself.

When you take on a traditional employment contract, you often have benefits associated with your salary, such as health care and paid sick leave. If you go self-employed, these benefits are worth considering investing in too. At Dweet, we take care of this step for a community – in fact, we work with some amazing partners to give our members access to a range of benefits for the duration of their Dweet mission.

Find your peers.

When you’re working long-term at an office or on the shop floor, you automatically have a team that can become a support network around you. This might not always be the same if you’re working remotely, for example, as you may miss the human element of being in the same room as your team. Wherever your next mission is, you’ll need to actively network – not only to take on new job opportunities, but also to connect with peers so you can spur each other on. (The Dweet Community Slack channel is a great place to get started on this).

Here at Dweet, we continue to build our talent community with people from a whole range of specialisms and backgrounds. Although there are lots of factors to consider when going independent, the more we speak to our members, the more we realise that becoming an independent professional is a way of life, with more benefits and balance than first meets the eye.

Essentially, the decision can be made on the basis of two key questions: are you doing it for the right reasons, and do you have the support you need to get started? We’re always happy to connect you with others who have already started their independent journey, so you can hear more about their journeys. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll also be sharing interviews with key members of the community to see what they have to say about their experiences so far.

Want to learn more? Join the community to get started.

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