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27m Americans Would Like to Go Freelance, Please

There was a time when landing “a secure job with a good company” was seen as the pinnacle of success. These days though, the dream has changed, and the dream is – freelancing.
Freelancer coffee shop
Image Credit: Pexels / bruce mars

Freelancers have been around for ages. But being self-employed comes with its benefits and its drawbacks. The risks that come with working for yourself can feel like too much for some. Despite this, more and more Americans are interested in freelancing, according to new research from FreshBooks. Their second annual Self-Employment Report sheds some light on the current state of freelancing and how things are likely to change in the years ahead. Here’s what you need to know:

Self-employment could be about to skyrocket

FreshBooks, in collaboration with Research Now, surveyed 2,700 full-time workers online in November of 2017 for this report. Samples were then weighted to reflect characteristics like age, gender and industry which were obtained through census data and other sources. When all was said and done, they found that self-employment is likely to skyrocket in the near future.

Th research asserts that as many as 27 million Americans are poised to leave traditional work arrangements for full-time self employment over the course of the next couple of years. This would mean that the number of self employed people could triple by 2020.

Research asserts that as many as 27 million Americans are poised to leave traditional work arrangements for full-time self employment in the next few years, meaning the number of self employed workers could triple by 2020.Click To Tweet

This is partially because those who are already freelancing aren’t expected to make big changes any time soon. A few different findings from the report help to further illuminate this conclusion:

  • Ninety-seven percent of current self-employed professions say they have no desire to return to traditional work.
  • 70 percent of those who are currently working for themselves say they’re expanding they’re actively trying to expand their businesses.
  • Nearly 60 percent of self-employed workers ages 50-65 want to continue to work instead of retiring.

The next wave of independent workers are already making plans

Researchers found that 43 percent of those who would like to go freelance in the coming years say they plan to change careers as a part of the switch. Many say they’re already preparing for the change. Fifty-eight percent said they’re paying off debt or saving money in order to get ready. And 52 percent say they’re working on learning new skills; 26 percent are even taking classes in person or online. Forty-two percent say they’re already getting advice from other entrepreneurs.

This next wave of independent workers is young. Nearly 40 percent of them are millennials.

“Tomorrow’s self-employed workforce will be younger, more educated and more ethnically diverse,” the report states. “Notably however, the majority of the self employed workforce will continue to be male.”

Among those who said they wanted to start freelancing sixty-four percent were men. Researchers found that men and women are preparing for self employment differently. Women generally focus most on developing skills and seeking professional advice. Men, on the other hand, say that reaching out to prospective customers is the main way they’re preparing for the switch.

Hopes are high

The vast majority, 64 percent, of people who say they’d like to freelance expect to earn more money. And they could be right. Fifty-four percent of those who are currently self-employed say they do earn more money than they did when working in a full-time job.

Sixty-four percent of people who say they’d like to freelance expect to earn more money. And they could be right. Fifty-four percent of those who are currently self-employed say they do earn more money freelancing.Click To Tweet

Sixty-six percent say they’ll have better work/life balance if they go freelance. And, 68 percent of those who are already self-employed feel that they have improved their work/life balance since starting to work for themselves.

“The notion of people prizing flexibility above all else came out here,” Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks told Forbes. “They want a sense of control of their time and flexibility to choose their own hours.”

The future of freelancing remains unclear. But, this isn’t the first study that’s estimated that significant changes are about to take place. A recent study from Upwork predicts that freelancers will soon make up the majority of the U.S. workforce. They say we’ll reach this milestone by 2027.

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