It’s no question that more and more people are choosing a freelance path and opting out of the traditional 9 to 5 office routine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of freelancers within the United States increased by roughly one million people between May of 2014 and May of 2015, jumping to an astonishing 15.5 million.
Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of these freelancers are 20-somethings. Sara Horowitz even said that 38 percent of Millennials are already freelancing, which is higher than any other generation in history.
In case you’re not totally on board with what I'm talking about, freelancing is the act of working independently (and often, remotely) with multiple clients at once, offering specific services as an independent contractor.
Basically, you're a solopreneur. No bosses, no offices, and no set schedules. Just you, you creativity, and endless opportunity for growth.
Thinking about making the switch yourself? Here are the top reasons that more and more Millennials are taking the solopreneur route and why there is so much opportunity for our generation.
1. The Internet
As we know, technology has changed almost every aspect of our lives, from the ways we communicate, to how we learn, to how we choose to express ourselves. For anything you need, there’s probably an app for that. This applies to our professional success, as well.
Websites such as UpWork, SquadRun, and Freelancer have enabled Millennials to connect with potential clients around the world and provide digital services remotely. For example, coding, designing, writing and marketing are all very attractive careers on the freelance market right now. These Millennial freelancers are offering a specialized service and aren’t constricted to a given salary, so they can charge higher rates and make significantly more money doing the same work they would do at a traditional job. Except that they can do it from bed, whenever they want.
As an example, someone might be making $4,000 a month working at an advertising agency, right? But, if they can provide those same skills independently and charge $100 an hour, they could, hypothetically, be making four times that amount.
Essentially, the internet has allowed Millennials to cut out the middle man (the employer) and work directly with the source (the customer). And it's awesome.
With the help of the digital age, Millennials are able to acquire complex skills more quickly than any other generation. Think about it: You can get online and take any course in the world and become an expert at something all in the comfort of your pajamas.
Having been raised in an era of helicopter parents and constant affirmation, Millennials are often confident in their abilities to create meaningful careers for themselves. Even if they don't really know what they're doing or they're not exactly sure what their best strengths are, they're willing to bounce around until they figure it out.
This is why almost 30 percent of Millennial employees will quit their jobs if they don’t feel it aligns with their overall career goals. They’re confident that their dream job is out there, and they'll figure out what it is one way or another.
Not to mention, there are now plenty of freelance “superstars” who have dedicated their careers to helping others pursue the freelance path. So, it's no longer a guessing game - there are now hundreds of public thought leaders and endless resources available to help Millennials pave the solopreneur way for themselves.
A large percentage of Millennials have their expressed their blatant hatred for the traditional 9 to 5 work schedule, specifically regarding the issues of constant distraction, office politics, time wasting, uncomfortable workplace relations and generally uninspiring environments.
Basically, they want to do their own thing.
Millennials have also seriously adapted to the idea of working smarter, not harder. Instead of taking the time to commute, sitting through mundane meetings and engaging in less-than-thrilling small talk with colleagues in the break room, Millennials have opted for staying at home, focusing on assignments of their choosing and having time for themselves.
In practice, this could mean waking up, hitting the gym, working from your kitchen table for a few hours, running an errand, making lunch, working for a few more hours, grabbing coffee with a friend and then doing some more work. On the other hand, it could mean traveling the world while working remotely. For each person it’s different, but what it comes down to is having that flexibility.
While older generations often express the importance of stability within a working environment, that value does not hold true to Millennials. Since a large portion of Generation-Y is graduating college with no job opportunities in sight, they’re used to the idea of work insecurity.
So, instead of jumping into the first job available and risking possible layoffs (which is all too common today), they invest in multiple clients at once, decreasing their chances of having an immediate and complete loss of income. Ultimately, they would rather constantly hustle for their own happiness than tirelessly work for someone else’s.
Even if they are making less money within this structure, it doesn’t seem to change their views. One study reported that 75 percent of freelancers will choose work flexibility over pay.
Whether you’re on board or not, the truth is that the majority of Millennials will be freelancing by 2020. And the reasons aren’t that surprising.
A yearn for self-agency, flexibility and growth while also doing something you love are the driving force behind the Millennial freelancer. And ultimately, isn’t that what we all want?