Independent's Day: Happy freelancers & Freelancing as a stepping stone to growth

Independent's Day: Happy freelancers & Freelancing as a stepping stone to growth
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Fri 5th Oct 2012

A global survey by talent platform Elance suggests that 'independent professionals' are happier as freelancers than they were as regular employees.

What's more, their earnings have risen this year and they expect them to go up again in 2013 as the freelance economy continues to thrive. According to the State of the Freelance Nation survey of 3,000 freelancers, almost seven in ten (69%) said they were happier as a freelancer than as a full-time employee and 79 per cent said they were more productive as a freelancer. They're also earning more: more than half of independent professionals working 'virtually' reported a 47 per cent average increase in earnings during 2012. When asked what they considered to be the best thing about freelancing, the respondents said:

Control over my own schedule  70%

Being my own boss  69%

Following my passion  64%

No commute/Work from anywhere  60%

More choice over projects  59%

No cubicles  33%

No office dress code  31%

Tell us what you think

We'd love you to tell us what you think is the best thing about being an independent professional (whether you call yourself a freelancer, a consultant, or whatever). Please leave your thoughts in the comments area below. Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Using freelancing as a stepping stone to a bigger business

Routes to busines growth: Stepping stones

Freelancing is a strategy you can use to maximise the growth potential of your business concept in two ways, writes Dave Chaplin, founder of

1. You can use it as a source of income while developing your non-freelancing business model. If your dream business is creating a fashion label, or you have invented a widget, you can use freelancing to fund your business in its early stages. Unlike employment, as a freelancer you're the boss and decide what hours to work. You could leave full-time employment and work part-time or full-time on a temporary basis. The flexibility freelancing delivers can enable you to spend essential time to develop your business model while still generating an income. 2. Alternatively, freelancing itself could be your growth business model, by supplying other freelancers and employees, or exploiting intellectual property you developed while freelancing. Your chosen freelancing career can itself turn into a growth business model. The first time you subcontract an element of a project to a fellow freelancer places you on the path to becoming your own agency. Subcontracting out projects and earning a margin is only the first step; next you could be taking on employees to perform the work. Before you know it, you have your own full blown-consultancy, agency, development team or professional practice.

Creating intellectual property

Another opportunity to use freelancing to bootstrap your growth business is if the nature of your freelancing provides you with an opportunity to create intellectual property. When performing a service process analysis for a client, you might have spotted an opportunity that could be developed into an innovative new service concept that could be franchised. Or the software application you developed for a freelance client may have applications in other sectors that you could exploit. And if that widget you invented or chemical compound you created can be patented, you might have the basis for a product business.

Discovering your growth potential

What each of these growth business models have in common is that they arose from your freelancing business and they have growth potential. Freelancing is a great way to start your business, and for many provides for a comfortable living. But if your ambitions go beyond running a lifestyle business, remember that your freelancing business can only ever be as big as the hours you put in and the rates you can charge. Dave Chaplin's business career began as a freelance IT developer in London's financial district. He founded ContractorCalculator in 1999, working on critical, cutting edge development and infrastructure projects by day and ContractorCalculator by night.  Davie is also author of Contractors' Handbook: the expert guide for UK contractors and freelancers. Photo credit: David Lofink

Contribute to Independent's Day

Jelly babies in cafe **Independent's Day every Friday on Enterprise Nation is intended to be by small businesses for small businesses. We'd love you to send us your contributions. ** So if you have tips, advice, comments and insights from your own experience of running a small enterprise to share, please use the button below to send them to us. Whether it's something you've learned about customer service, a time-saving tool you've discovered or a great sales technique you employ - if it's useful, pass it on! All we ask is that your contributions are relevant to other small enterprises and not self-promotional - Independent's Day is about sharing, not selling. Oh, and if you try to keep it to around 300 words or so, that will mean we can feature more of your contributions each week! Have your say!

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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