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Independence Is the Future

By Christian Jacobsen - Crema
Co-Founder and CEO


By Christian Jacobsen | Co-Founder and CEO - Mon, 05/30/2022 - 13:00

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The future is high-performing talent operating as businesses. A bold statement I firmly believe in. Let’s take a look at why.

To better understand my conviction, let’s travel to the future. Let’s imagine a scenario where you as an independent professional have the same risks being an independent as you have being employed. The risk that your clients will decide not to work with you anymore is the same as your employer firing you. A relatively low risk. In this future, you also have the same access to financial products based on your income. That means credit cards, loans, mortgages and so on. You also have access to benefits, such as paid time off and health insurance. Income taxes are also withheld for you. As a freelancer, you get to choose what you work on, with whom, when you work and from where. You have complete flexibility, freedom and control. As an employee, you have to work on the same thing almost every day, you have to clock in and clock out at the same time every day, and you have to work for someone else.

In this case, which scenario would you choose?

Most people would choose to be an independent professional due to the upsides it provides. You are your own boss. You have complete freedom and flexibility in what you work on, with whom you work, when you work, and from where.

The lure of being in charge of your own destiny is what makes people go independent in today's environment, even if all things are not equal (like in our dreamy scenario). Today, if you become independent, there is no certainty that your income will stay the same, or even increase. There is no certainty of being able to get yourself a couple of days off, or health insurance. There isn’t a whole lot of certainty to be honest. The only certainty is that you will be in charge of your own destiny. That means getting your own benefits. Your own clients. Your own income. Managing your own time. Managing your own operations. Paying your monthly taxes. Getting paid on time. The list goes on. But surprisingly, the pull of being your own boss is so strong that more and more professionals are becoming independent and, in doing so, creating a demand for solutions to be created that address the actual problems that exist for the independent professionals out there. And there are plenty of problems. Access to benefits, financial products, income insurance, productivity tools, operational tools, tax and accounting help, and payments. They are all missing. And they are what we need for us to get to that bright and shiny future.

Slowly but surely, we are moving toward the future of independent work. Today, taking the leap to independence means actually taking a leap. It’s risky. It’s a leap. You don’t really know if you are going to have the same income. You don’t have the same tools as you did as an employee. It’s a leap of faith into the unknown.

What needs to happen is for the gap between the safety of employment and uncertainty of independence to close up. It closes up through the creation of tools that solve problems faced by the current independent professional. These are tools that businesses have today that freelancers don’t have access to. Tools that decrease the risk of actually becoming independent versus being employed. Tools like Bonsai for freelancer administration, Contra for portfolio management and discovery, Honeybook for client management, Deel for international compliance, Lance for banking, and Crema for payments. Tools that close the gap for freelancers and give them freedom and eliminate their worries. Like I said, if all things are equal, most would choose independence. And it is the future.

Now that we have established that there will be no shortage of supply in the future, let’s move over to the demand side of the equation: businesses, because what use is there in becoming independent if no one will want to hire you. Here, we don’t need a scenario from the future because everything we need exists in the present. Let’s look at an everyday company. Let’s imagine that this company has a need. The need is for talent. It can be long term or short term, I’ll leave that to your imagination. Let’s say the need is for someone specialized in user experience design. If you are a company that offers remote work, your talent pool is considerably larger than that of those companies requiring a physical presence in an office. Now, let’s say that you can hire someone from anywhere (because you can with several platforms today). All that remains is to take a look at some pros and cons of a permanent hire compared to hiring a freelancer.

For a permanent hire, they will be exclusively working for you (although if they are any good at what they do, they’ll freelance at night). They also get to be a part of the culture and add to it, but other than that, there isn’t a pro that hiring a freelancer doesn’t provide. The cons are plentiful, if the hire doesn’t work out, you have to pay severance and a bunch of extra money according to whatever law protects the employee in their country. The list goes on.

Let’s move on to the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer for this role. The pros are that you can access specialized talent based on your need and when the need doesn’t exist, you can simply just say you don’t need their services, and that’s that. No extra costs. Clean. You also only pay for what you need. If the freelancer delivers, and your problem is solved, you don’t need to keep paying them. This is not the case if they are an employee. If they solve your problem, you have to find something else for them to do, and sometimes, that can be difficult if the skill set of this particular employee is limited or very specialized. If you hire a freelancer and you are not happy with what was delivered, you can be protected if a contract was involved, or at least, be entitled to a discount. If an employee doesn’t deliver, you can't just say goodbye then and there with no costs. There are laws, there are processes, and this is what I predict will make freelancers an in-demand option going forward.

Today, the gap between the supply and demand for freelancers is closing due to the pandemic, and the rise of remote work and remote-first companies. Companies that are remote-first, have a tendency to hire more freelancers. It’s in their DNA to have flexibility, access to the best talent, and access to specialized talent that only will work independently. With that in mind, I am sure that in the coming years, freelancing and the demand for freelancers will be much greater than it is today. And because of that, I hold my firm belief that the best of the best, the high performers if you may, will be independent in the future, and they will operate as businesses. Businesses of one, that is.

Photo by:   Christian Jacobsen

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