th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

The Career Shift From Employed to Independent

More and more folks are leaving the 9-to-5 grind for the grind of growing their own business
By Matthew Baker |

The Career Shift From Employed to Independent

svetikd | Getty Images



Career independence is on the upswing, and according to a recent survey conducted by FreshBooks, the majority (7 in 10) of self-employed individuals have no intention of returning to traditional employment. Instead, they intend to grow their business. The fact is that primary roles in the economy are no longer "employer and employee." We have shifted toward an "independent professional and client" economy. Here's a brief history as to how career independence became the new norm. 



The mindsets of employer and employee have become untethered

Most baby boomers wanted job safety and dependability. It was the prevailing mindset of the generation. Many professionals born in the 1950s and reaching retirement age now have worked for the same employer for more than 30 years. In return, they received desirable health benefits, countless perks and a defined-benefit retirement plan.


But many professionals born in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s find this approach no longer viable. The mindsets of employer and employee have become untethered.



Corporations are pushing employees away -- and toward career independence

Here are three examples:


1. Employers have switched from defined-benefit to defined-contribution retirement plans to reduce costs and liabilities. While the short-term advantage is a stronger balance sheet, the long-term impact is a degradation of the bond between employer and employee.


2. Employers have shifted toward a higher percentage of contract workers, even for high-skilled needs. FTEs (full-time employees) are viewed as costly and inflexible. The cost of health benefits is often equivalent to more than 20 percent of an employee’s salary. Once workers are on contract, the company is no longer responsible for common employee needs -- health care, retirement, unemployment insurance and income taxes.


3. Employers treat independent workers as vendors that can be scaled up and down more easily based on emerging skill gaps and competitive pressures. Many independent workers must invoice the company for their services. The invoices are then paid out of consulting and project budgets.



Taken together, the connective tissue between employer and employee is tearing away. Meanwhile, professionals in the middle of their careers now want job diversity and autonomy. There’s too much risk in staying with one employer for an entire career.



In response to the push from corporations, there is a massive movement toward self-employment

Not only does self-employment offer increased flexibility and uncapped income, workers don’t want to be swallowed up by the politics and paper shuffling of large corporations. Today 1 in 3 Americans is working for themselves. There are countless examples -- digital marketers, Uber drivers, PR consultants, restaurant owners, AirBnB hosts, legal professionals, tour guides, photographers, etc.


Here are three ways workers are pulling away further:


1. Working-age Americans are rejecting the 9-to-5 construct. Workers want flexible hours that accommodate personal priorities. There is a higher premium on work completed and results rather than hours logged.


2. Workers are getting smart about personal branding. Whether its LinkedIn, personal websites or other marketing opportunities, workers are presenting themselves first and foremost in a way that pushes employers to the background.


3. Workers are more interested than ever in gaining experiences instead of tenure. Ask this question to an early or mid-career professional -- Would you rather spend the next six years at one job or two years at three different jobs if the income is the same? The answer is the latter – the diverse experiences likely foster more growth and learning.



All of this is exacerbated by how easy is it to become a one-person business. If someone has something physical to sell (whether it was made or purchased), she or he can list it on eBay, Shopify, Etsy or Facebook in minutes. If someone has a service to offer, she or he can market the service through online and offline social networks in minutes. A “side hustle” is just the beginning for career independence.



Acquiring clients is the critical skill in the new economy

So what? To succeed in the new economy as a self-employed professional, workers cannot simply take the work offered by online marketplace platforms. Think of the marketplace platform as a transition state.


The benefit of using marketplace platforms is that the platform itself captures demand. These platforms, like Uber, AirBnB, Upwork, Fiverr and so on, allow anyone to feel the power of career independence without having to sell. It’s a first step toward self-employment. But, it’s not sustainable because these platforms effectively set the rates and own the client relationships.

The challenge facing anyone serious about self-employment and building a sustainable small business is learning how to market products or services effectively. If she or he can win clients (and on her or his own terms), success is attainable. However, that doesn’t mean independent workers don’t still have to deliver projects effectively, nurture client relationships, manage finances and plan for the future.


Here’s the thing -- career independence is the future. The sooner anyone can demonstrate the ability to win and retain clients, the sooner she or he takes a driver’s seat in new economy.  







Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editors

Latest Articles

Can Gov’t Take Frequencies From Globe and PLDT to Give These to the 3rd Telco Player?

Policy makers admit available spectrum is not enough to make new entrant competitive

byElyssa Christine Lopez | January 18, 2018 19:00:00

PayMaya, GCash QR Code Tech Can Now be Used for Payments in The SM Store and Other Large Retailers

The two telco-powered mobile wallets are slowly working toward the BSP’s vision of a cashless...

byLorenzo Kyle Subido | January 18, 2018 14:00:00

This Property Manager Has a Better Deal than AirBnB or Private Leasing for Condo Investors

Founded by Luis Monserrat, Hospitality Innovators Inc now counts 19 properties in its portfolio

byPaul John Caña | January 18, 2018 13:00:00

All Entrepreneurs Face Failure But the Successful Ones Didn't Quit

Fear of failure is natural. In entrepreneurship, overcoming your fears is essential

byDaniel Neiditch | January 18, 2018 08:00:00

Avoid These 5 Early Mistakes I Made as an Entrepreneur

Learn from my mistakes and save yourself unnecessary hardship

byJonathan Long | January 18, 2018 06:00:00

Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail and What You Should Do Instead

It's incredibly hard to break out of old habits

byJulie Christopher | January 18, 2018 02:00:00

The New Metropolis Rising in Central Luzon is Getting Some Help from Singapore

A consulting firm from the Lion City has been tapped for the project

byMiguel Escobar for | January 18, 2018 00:00:00

Want a Salary of Up to Php99K a Month? Here’s a List of the Highest-Paying Jobs for Pinoys Abroad

Asia and the US need engineers and technicians but Middle East wants healthcare professionals

byElyssa Christine Lopez | January 17, 2018 19:00:00

Former Stock Exchange Chief Assails SEC Decision on Rappler as ‘Anti-Business’

Lawyer Francis Lim says agency’s harsh penalty is inconsistent with its mandate to protect...

byEntrepreneur Staff | January 17, 2018 15:00:00

Need a New Office Space For Your Business This 2018? Try FlySpaces Passport

The subscription service is perfect for highly mobile employees and freelancers

byNicai de Guzman | January 17, 2018 11:00:00

9 Reliable Ways to Cultivate Creative Thinking

Some people are naturally creative. Everyone else can cultivate creativity

byJohn Rampton | January 17, 2018 08:00:00

3 Simple Ways to Increase Empathy at Work

Empathy is a great way to climb the career ladder

byCeren Cubucku | January 17, 2018 06:00:00