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We are living in a fast-paced, digital era where 65% of children entering primary school today, will work in jobs that do not currently exist. These same children will never need to get a driver’s license due to self-driving cars.

The nine-to-five job with a lunch hour no longer exists. We live with our phones within 3 meters of us 24 hours a day. The world has changed, and we are running to keep up with it. It is this chaos and beauty that has led to more people evacuating the corporate world, whether it be because it is too fast paced or too slow to implement the needed changes. The worldwide workforce is shifting away from traditional roles and toward a flexible freelance economy. As roles diversify and economic pressure mounts, people are becoming more intentional and more hands-on in their own career planning.

Today, freelancers represent 35% of the workforce in the United States, 16% in the European Union and while South African figures are harder to determine, the number by the end of 2017 was already thought to be 10% and rising strongly.

30 million daily internet users in South Africa means there is a market and an appetite for remote working, thanks to the exact technological advancements we love to hate, want to avoid but cannot live without.

Going on your own

As a Communications Consultant, I left the unhinged world of advertising two years ago. I regularly get asked for coffee with friends and colleagues who are dabbling with the idea of going on their own. Retrenchments, discontent, burnout, financial dissatisfaction and the elusive pursuit of a balanced life, means more people are considering taking the leap. Life stage and appetite for perceived risk seem to be critical determining factors. So much of what you read is true but like most things in life, experience, rather than knowledge, will be the greatest teacher.

Plan cautiously

9/10 startups fail within 20 months, so positive optimism must not be mistaken for ignorance and poor forethought. Plan cautiously and meticulously and make use of the easily available resources available to you, then jump. Yes, you do need to set up a pipeline before you leave your corporate job. The income inconsistency is generally the most stressful part of self-employment, so you will enjoy your new-found freedom far more if you set up clients and partners before you run out of the corporate office door. Sounds obvious, ask around and you’ll realize how many people took the leap in good faith without solid contacts in place. If you are drowning and don’t have time to plan your exit in your 24/7 job – make time or don’t do it, yet.

The flexy lifestyle

85% of startups are self-funded, so save more than you think you’ll need and don’t ignore the financial administration side while you are off hunting down new clients. If you think self-employment will allow for more time in your life, you are probably wrong. Working for yourself has more administration than you’ll anticipate, and tasks take longer than you think they will. The beauty and reduction of stress come in, when your time becomes your own, to balance as you wish. You’ll surprisingly, probably work longer hours, but you’ll have greater control of where, when and with whom you work. The flexy lifestyle allows you to go to gym mid-day, catch a child’s netball match, work until 3 am and still feel balanced if that is what you choose for balance to look like. Self-employment means you set your own boundaries so make sure you trust yourself.

Over 75% of people who have tasted the freedom to work remotely would choose never to go back.

Corporates are catching on and quite like the idea of bringing in freelance experts in their fields that just get paid for accomplishing a specific task; contractors celebrate not needing to go to staff meetings or getting dragged to colleagues’ baby showers. It is a win-win. It forces the self-employed individual to be focused and to harness their skills.

A corporate in South Africa who has pioneered this model is Showmax. Their fearless marketing team reconstructed the entire model for their creative partners, choosing a freelance model to allow for a free flow of ideas, lower overheads, uninterrupted strategic execution and faster lead times. A year in, the model is flourishing, and more corporates are looking outward, rather than inward. Tools are critical, and working with partners like Flexy, who manage your freelance workforce more efficiently, is key to success.

Over 75% of people who have tasted the freedom would choose never to go back. Technology is on your side if you choose to allow it to be. Value yourself, value your time, find your purpose and do what you believe you are put on this earth to do, however big or small it is.

Shera Deavall
‘Communications Consultant’

This article and all the wisdom in it was contributed to the Flexy community by Shera Deavall. Delivered with Joy and received with Gratitude. Want to share your story? Send us your experience with the subject “I want to share my story”.

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