The State of the Independent Worker

The State of the Independent Worker

Independent-WorkerIn a study released in September 2011, MBO Partners revealed some fascinating and motivating information about independent workers in the first national baseline report on them. (An independent worker is also defined as a solopreneur, entrepreneur or an independent contractor.)

At 16 Million (and growing) independent workers in America, many people have decided to take charge of their own lives on their own terms. This shift to career independence (not so surprisingly) didn’t happen because of the economy. In fact, it was by primarily by choice. Only 19% of these entrepreneurs are even considering seeking employment in the next 24 months. A full 75% of independent workers plan on continuing as they are now, or building their solo operations into employer businesses.

Who are these people that prefer to remain entrepreneurs and solopreneurs?

  • 12% Millennials
  • 49% GenX
  • 30% Boomers
  • 10% Seniors
    and they are:
  • 53% Women
  • 47% Men

And 89% of independent workers are satisfied with their choice and plan to stay committed to independence.

While the study depicts a typical independent as a 30-49 year old, the independent workforce is generationally diverse and rich with experience. Nearly half have a college degree and have been working independently for almost 9 years. Seven out of ten independent workers are expert workers, reporting their occupation requires specialized training, skills or education. Half (50%) also report industry expertise or experience is required in their work. This data illustrates the broader shift towards knowledge-based work and the important role that skills, education and experience play for independent workers. – MBO Partners study

Most of the independent workers surveyed responded to the question of “why” they do what they with these benefits: Passion for what they do. Making a difference. Feeling of being in control. The challenge. Flexibility, i.e. having more time and freedom. And not having a boss – autonomy — was a big reason to decide to be an independent worker.

Independent workers are solopreneurs. They are coaches, consultants, freelancers, contractors, temporary and on-call workers. While there is little dominance in any particular field or specialty, the top three occupations identified were:

  • 9% creative / design
  • 8% consulting
  • 7% education / training

The number of independent workers is expected to increase to more than 20 million by 2013. The reasons this increase is expected include the loss of many traditional jobs, the lack of satisfaction in the workplace, the low cost entry point, and the heightened attraction for independence.

In fact, according to the study, 28 million Americans (21+) are considering the shift to independent worker status within the next two years. 14 million said that were confident they would go this route. Of those, almost a quarter of them have already prepared a business plan, one fifth have prepared marketing materials, 14% have built a business website, 14% have opened a business bank account and 13% have applied for a business tax ID. That’s a pretty solid determination to get started as an entrepreneur!

Your Turn…

Are you currently an independent worker? Do you plan on remaining one?

Or are you one of the 28 million Americans considering the shift to independent worker status?

What are your biggest questions about building your business?

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