In the modern workforce, freelancers lead the way — and in more ways than one.
Freelance has emerged in a big way in recent years, and while the best is yet to come, things are changing fast. It’s coming to the fore of a world in transition, during a revolutionary confluence of technology, economy and ideology. Going forward, freelance will be the main driver of the workforce in Canada and abroad. Already, its champions come in many forms — the person writing copy or code, drafting an architect’s drawing, balancing the books or even crafting a digital marketing strategy. The rationales for its arrival are many. Fast-paced advancements in technology, shifts in generational and societal values, economic pressure on both employers and employees and knowledge gaps in virtually all businesses — plus the complexity of doing business today, amid the rise of an on-demand economy — have led to the dismantling of the traditional work model. A new working world awaits.
Demand is soaring In step with society, employers are already preparing for a freelance-focused workforce. Half of all major companies worldwide are expected to cut their permanent workforce, and nearly half — 48% — said they’ll be hiring specialist contractors instead of employees. In Canada, 85% of businesses are proactively planning on using freelance to drive their workforce. In not taking on a full-time employee, these businesses realize the potential for increased savings in wages, the efficiency in finding the right person for a specific task and the flexibility in responding to their ever-changing business needs. With a 4% reduction in employed workers, businesses in Canada are already using freelancers with niche expertise to fill the void. And with its expansion into previously unchartered sectors, freelance has become industry neutral — everything from HR to sales, law and engineering can be (and is being) done by freelancers.
The dollars make sense Canada’s freelance market is a $230 billion industry built on the backs of 2.9 million self-employed people. About a third of them belong to the professional service sector, which itself is a hefty market worth $42.2 billion. Altogether, Canada ranks third on the list of countries buying the most online labour, behind only the U.S. and U.K.
What this means for freelancers The unstoppable growth projections of freelance, across almost all industries, will have key implications for freelancers.
Think bigger with your client base: Even if you’ve already found regular clients or consistent work, start to think bigger about your business. As freelance grows, so too does the need for freelancers. Now more than ever there are opportunities to branch out from your niche and build client bases in new markets.
Prepare for competition: This growth also means more competition. While it’s important to get inside the heads of your clients to truly understand their needs, you should also keep an eye on your competitors and know their offerings and their rates.
Market yourself: As the market expands, investing in promoting your services is key. Keeping an up-to-date portfolio will let you show off your skills as quickly as new jobs come in, but selling yourself is an ongoing pursuit. Keep your website current and relevant, and creating promotional materials to send to prospective clients will help bring life to what you can offer.
Stay top of mind: As the competition grows, you want to maintain top-of-mind awareness with clients. You should always be nurturing client relationships while using powerful content to remain visible. Something as simple as sharing a smart and relevant article on LinkedIn can help you keep your finger on the pulse of the market.
Challenges remain, but help is on the way Freelancers and their talents are driving the modern working world, so it, in turn, should work around freelancers. We’re still a ways from that reality. The working world is still overwhelmingly designed around traditional, full-time work. But every day, new technology and new disrupters empower freelancers to thrive in the working world rather than simply navigate it. This is where Livelii comes in. Livelii is taking a meaningful and active role in addressing the unique challenges freelancers have as business owners — also known as the “pain points” of freelance. Livelii is taking on freelance pains like late payment on invoices, clients deprioritizing past-due invoices and the near-ubiquitous lack of benefit coverage for freelancers. And that’s just the start. Always with freelancers’ best interests in mind, Livelii is driven to dismantle what isn’t working for the workforce’s fastest-growing sector and usher in a better way forward.
Sources World Economic Forum, 2018 Benefits Canada, 2019 Statistics Canada, 2019 NRC-Library and Information Management Intelligence Report, 2019 Online Labour Index, 2016 (The OLI shows the supply and demand of online freelance labour similar to conventional labour-market statistics using real-time employment tracking.) Deloitte, 2014 Global News, 2018 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, 2019 Horizons Canada, 2019