While on business travel, I was riding the Metro subway in Washington, DC and got off at the end of the line. The location was in a depressed area with little there for the commuter. As I waited for my ride, I saw two young boys carrying a huge box of M&Ms in hopes of selling to weary commuters. I found it amusing that these young men were catering to this market. I wondered how these inexperienced children could be so successful in business. Many individuals are not.
Our grandmothers told us to find a good government job with benefits, and we would then live happily ever after. We found that wasn’t true. In fact, companies are outsourcing functions like employees are disposal goods. In fact, Charles Handy, author of the Age of Paradox, predicts that we are witnessing the end of the full-time employee. In this discussion, we will focus on the freelance industry and how it contributes to the growing outsourcing market.
With a weak job growth, many U.S. jobs will continue to be outsourced globally or automated through technology. In fact, the government estimates that an additional 1.2 manufacturing jobs will disappear by 2018. In this economic downturn, many people are unleashing their ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit rather than depend of others.’ According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the number of self-employed Americans rose to 8.9 million in December 2009, up from 8.7 million a year earlier.
Yet, this venture is not just for the young. Individuals 55 to 64 represented the second-largest jump in their own businesses (just behind 35- to 44- years old) from 2008 to 2009, according to Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. People with talent are finding they can find work anywhere, including abroad. Websites like Elance.com turn local artists to global competitors. However, columnist Nancy Cook notes, “These sites may transform freelancers into mini-nationals, but they certainly don’t offer the wages, benefits, or perks typically associated with global blue-chip companies.” The following list represents the leading freelance websites for employment:
(5) Rent A Coder.com
(6) Demand Studios.com
Most entrepreneurs are internally driven. According to BLS, the number of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs (February 2010) surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October 2008. Many people are unsatisfied with their work situations. In a Right Management poll, 60% of workers planned to leave their jobs when the market got better.
Gam’s Barbershop is more than a haircut establishment in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is an experience. Men debate. Fans might see a UT athlete or even Coach Pearl there. However, this successful vision came from one person. Despite growing up in a single parent home and fighting numerous youth temptations, Gary Gamble wanted more. Gam explains, “I always wanted to own my own business. I went to barbershop school with my friend. My friend later quit school. I kept on going. I wanted to do something with my life.” He did. In 1993, Gam’s Barbershop was opened. However, it wasn’t easy. Gam says, “I just try to be determined and never give up.”
Some people just stumble on a niche. Owners Charles and Gwen Chandlers took a hobby and grew it into a business. Chandler’s Deli, known for its Southern cooking and great service, is located in the heart of an urban area. While many restaurants have failed in the area, this restaurant still stands.
Charles notes, “I think we have been successful for three reasons. They are God, determination between my wife and me, and our personal assets. God just wanted us to have it [this deli].” Currently, the couple is working with the University of Tennessee Agricultural Department to locate a distributor for their new spices.
With the economic crisis still ahead, organizations are outsourcing more of their routine functions. Additionally, today’s workers cannot depend on their current employer to take care of their indefinitely. Therefore, being a freelance worker can provide a great alternative.
Yet, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Furthermore, there is a continual demand for better services at lower prices by organizations. Therefore, many workers will become independent contractors. Yet, our nation needs to continue its economic development campaign.
How will freelancers contribute to the outsourcing market? What operational systems will need to be infused into traditional organizations so that they can use them?
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green
 “More workers start to quit” by Joe Light