Anyone in a creative industry knows the drill: you live and die by the client roster. You land a great account with loads of new work, and your current staff needs help. So you interview a ton of people. Eventually you find someone fantastic. Once they are trained and acclimate to your company workflow, you're firing on all cylinders. Business life is good.
Until you lose a client. It happens to the best of us—companies change, priorities shift, and BOOM, there goes the budget. Now you can't afford all the awesome people on your team. Someone has to go, and the process isn't fun for anyone. We've all been there, probably on both sides of the equation.
Now when you get another big new client and need to staff back up, the wonderful person you had to let go has already found a new job somewhere else. You get to start the search for another needle in the haystack when you'd rather be tending to your new business. Round and round we go. It's enough to make anyone feel queasy.
No one likes this ride, and yet we keep getting on. After all, it's just business. It's not like we have any control over it.
Or do we?
The Rise of the Independent Worker
Businesses would like to turn to contract workers when they need specialized help, but they are nervous. Freelancers can be flaky. Consultants can be expensive and offer little more than advice.
What these businesses really need are Independent Workers.
According to Freelancers Union, nearly one in three working Americans is an independent worker. 53 million people, and the number is only growing. The reasons people are moving this way are numerous, but the best of them share these traits: 1) they are independent, 2) they are workers.
I can hear you now: Thanks for that, Captain Obvious. Stay with me for a minute.
A lot of independent workers call themselves freelancers or consultants, but they are doing themselves a disservice. The term "freelancer" these days conjures up unwelcome images of someone working in their mom's basement. They spend all day in their pajamas, and they don't produce high quality work because it's just a temporary gig. "Consultant" doesn't escape negative connotations either. Consultants charge a lot of money to swoop in and give advice that isn't practical. It's obvious they don't take a company's unique culture into consideration. (We've all seen Office Space, right?)
The right independent worker is neither a flaky freelancer or an out-of-touch consultant. They are independent, so they know how to manage their projects. They communicate promptly and effectively with their clients. A business does not need to babysit an independent worker. And unlike the lofty consultant, they are workers. They want to roll up their sleeves and get to work right alongside you, because your success is their success.
If you cultivate relationships with the right independent workers, you can call on them when the workload gets crazy instead of riding the staffing roller coaster. They'll jump in and get the job done, freeing you up to do what you do best: your business!