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Is Now the Right Time to Start Freelancing or Consulting?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
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Are you thinking about going out on your own? Wondering if now is the right time to start freelancing or consulting? Or how you can tell when that right time will be?

The world is rapidly changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our day-to-day lives, our economy, and our plans for the future have quickly shifted. Most of us have canceled vacations, shelved thoughts of seeing friends and family, and started to reimagine what the year may hold.

Many of you likely have done the same, especially as it relates to your career. If you’re reading this, you’re probably asking yourself, “What now? What’s next? Should I still plan on launching my consulting business? If so, when?”

The Trend of Freelancing and Independence

Right now, the thought of stepping out on your own may appear extraordinarily risky. Before we share our thoughts on the current situation, I want to provide you the backdrop on which we build this information.

Everything, until recently, has said that stepping out on your own, freelancing, and building a small business is the trend of where things are going.

We had research commissioned in 2019, and here’s what we found:

  • A 2018 Edelman report said that in 2020 about 40 percent of the workforce is freelancing, and that’s predicted to be the majority by 2028.
  • Freelancers and independent workers are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce.

The Risk of Entrepreneurship

So, the question becomes, “Now what?” What will it look like in the next three months, six months, or the next year? Is it a risky time to go out on your own?

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First, we want to say that going out on your own always has an element of risk. No matter what state the economy is in, we encourage you to assess the risk and think about your strengths and challenge areas. The risk is always out there. It never goes away.

What we do know about entrepreneurs is that they make measured decisions. Other people see them as risky, that’s true. But entrepreneurs assess and evaluate the situation. After much thought, they’re willing to step out into a new space and put themselves out there.

We also know that disruption creates opportunities and creates new needs. Those that are willing to be scrappy, to identify emerging needs, and to offer a timely and attractive product can be true competitive advantages.

Short- and Long-Term Effects for Consultants

Truthfully, in the short term, we don’t know what the impact of the current pandemic means. The COVID-19 situation changes daily, creating uncertainty and frustrating efforts to put in place solid near-term plans.

However, in the mid- to long-term, we do not doubt that the numbers we saw from our research will continue on this trend. The number of people deciding to go independent may even accelerate as organizations shed jobs and working remotely becomes increasingly the norm.

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Our counsel to those considering freelancing is this: You should take the time to evaluate if consulting is right for you. If it is, you can begin to position yourself for the career change. You may not quit your job tomorrow, but that’s OK. Take this time to plan your transition, to get ready, to be poised to take quick action when the time is right for you.

Any economist will assure you that one day the economy will turn. But we aren’t sure when and we aren’t sure how.

If you know you want to go out on your own as a consultant or freelancer, we suggest you use this time to prepare, watch the market, and be ready to launch when the timing is right.

And join us for the upcoming ATD webcast How to Test If Starting a Consulting Business Is Right for You on July 10, when you will learn about five proven and practical ways to test the market, your skills and income potential. Join us to find ways to take a measured risk that enables you to explore if independent consulting or freelancing is a career option for you.

But no matter what you decide to do with this time now, we hope you can spend it building a future you want.

Wishing you safety and wellness.

About the Author

Kris Taylor has been a successful independent consultant for 14 years as founder of Evergreen Leadership. Her firm has partnered with over 50 companies globally and was honored by the Center for Creative Leadership as one of the preeminent leadership development firms.

About the Author

Katie Workman moved directly into consulting after graduating from Purdue University. Within one year of founding Elevate Online, she has been able to do the work she loves (online marketing and graphic design) on her own terms.

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