We have been inching toward becoming a nation of freelancers and part-timers for years now. The dark side: freelancers, small business owners and independent contractors don’t make the jobless numbers we see today. Many have become the silently underemployed—not tallied in government numbers, as their drop in income is not reported with layoff statistics and they cannot collect unemployment.
The bright and shiny side for those who are their own boss: When you work for yourself, successfully, you have the advantage of flexibility and resourcefulness that the newly unemployed may not share. Yes, freelancers and small biz is hurting too, but as someone who was self-employed for years after a mass of media layoffs, I found going out on my own to be one of the best things to ever happen to me (I’m here, right?).
Here are a few reasons why: You’ll never get complacent again. When you’re your own boss, you are also your own marketer, public relations, secretary, salesperson and manufacturer. Everything you say and do is a reflection of what you’re selling. Every relationship and resource you have can help serve your business and bring in money. When one gig dries up, you assess, learn, shift and work on finding another. It’s not easy. You may have never worked so hard in your life, but working for yourself, whether you’re forced to do it because you’ve lost your job or you choose to run after opportunity, can be a life-changer.
To the silently underemployed: keep working at it and be flexible. And to the newly unemployed: should you choose to keep looking for full-time employment, no matter where you land, always act like a freelancer. It will increase your odds of bouncing back fast the next time the ax falls.