Alexander Graham Bell. Born on March 3, 1847. Credited with patenting the first practical telephone and founding the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1885.
Without the groundbreaking exploration and cultivation of Bell, as well as the technology that developed from it throughout the last 170 years, millions of workers wouldn’t be able to save countless hours of commuting time, thousands of dollars in fuel purchases and fast food breakfasts, and precious moments at soccer games and PTA meetings, all the while gaining scheduling flexibility and, some would argue, greater productivity by working from their homes on a full- or part-time basis. In fact, about 2.9 percent of U.S. workers (3.9 million people) consider the home a primary place of work, according to The State of Telework in the U.S., written by Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego-based consulting firm that specializes in flexible-workplace strategies.
Other findings from The State of Telework in the U.S.
- Telecommuters are more educated than non-telecommuters in so much as 53% have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 72% have some college or higher.
- Jobs with the highest telecommuting rate (part-time or more) include computer and mathematical occupations (8.2 percent), military-specific occupations (7.2 percent) and arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (5.9 percent).
Whatever the statistics show, telecommuting seems to be here to stay despite recent moves by Bank of America, IBM, and Honeywell. For all its merits and disadvantages, an even more resilient crowd has emerged in the form of telecommuter and that is the full-time freelancer. Due in part to companies actually turning to freelancers (a mode of avoiding high wage inflation and rising infrastructure costs), the emergence of the side hustle, and yes, the birth of the modern nomad, freelancing, on the whole, is on the rise. It is a risky business though and one that needs to be carefully considered before you leave behind the executive washroom for the basketball shorts and afternoon yoga classes. Here are 5 quick lessons to be learned before you go corporate commando!
FREELANCING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Freelancing is hard work. There is no other way to say it. You can actually end up working more hours and for less pay as a freelancer than you could at a more corporate setting. You are your own IT team, secretary, manager, employee, HR rep, and support staff. The best thing to do is go into a freelancing phase with realistic goals and hyper-self discipline.
YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN SUCCESS. As a tiny houser you have already told the world that you play by a different set of rules. You don’t allow yourself to be measured by someone else’s yardstick. That said, success if what you make it for yourself. It probably isn’t about making six-figures. It may not be about basketball shorts and afternoon yoga classes. Instead, it may just be about flexibility; time to pursue what interests you in this world. But be sure to constantly evaluate if you are moving toward your definition of success or simply choosing one hamster wheel over another.
SPEND LESS. Becoming a freelancer does not mean staving off slow afternoons by drinking $4 cups of coffee or indulging in a bit of retail therapy. In fact, a good freelancer understands that part of success is spending less. This goes for personal and professional expenses. Perhaps instead of purchasing new items of clothing because that is what you’ve always done, you could purge a little and sell some of the designer pieces of corporate pieces you no longer need. Maybe as a freelancer, you find yourself living off Google tools. You don’t need a $2,000 MacBook to do that. Consider a less expensive Chrome Book or Windows unit. That isn’t all though. Don’t just flat out spend less. Become more aware of what you do spend. Know which DropBox plan is best for you. Use those VistaPrint coupons for your business cards. Take advantage of the free Toggle desktop app to track your hours. And learn the PayPal service fees and charges.
MARKET. PROMOTE. NETWORK. REPEAT.
There literally are no rules as to how a client may find you. You can be contacted through your website, on your professional Facebook page, via a LinkedIn message, or even on Twitter. You can also be ready to sell yourself while waiting in the doctor’s office or visiting the post office or even at a social event. Today’s marketplace is indiscriminate and always looking for an advantage over the competition. See yourself and your services as the advantage they are seeking and market yourself as such. Don’t ever dismiss an opportunity for a client to contact you. Remember, you are your own “headhunter”.
LEAVE AN IMPRESSION
Always be gracious. Always be honest. Always be thankful. You never know how word-of-mouth is working for you but if you leave a good word on the tip of everyone’s tongue, you never have to. Stand out because you are competent, professional, and pleasant. Don’t stand out because you are rude, short, and ineffective. Even if you have a client that is testing your patience daily. Take the high road. Negativity breeds negativity so give them an extra dose of kindness.
Are you ready to freelance? Are you ready to shake off the corporate clutter and explore a new world of work? Do you already freelance and have some tips to share? If so, leave them in the comment section below or visit our Facebook page to share your experience(s).