Today we continue on the theme of better understanding the freelance consulting market. We draw on a number of independent studies that shed some much needed light on this very important and highly skilled sector.
We look at latest a study from Monash University which proves that most freelances made the move willingly based on very sensible reasons. As a consequence they are earning more than the average employee in their field.
The research also clearly shows that female freelancers dominate the professional sector and are leveraging freelance work as a means of achieving their own goals. Some research from Hays points to a continued increase in the utility of freelance resources by corporate Australia.
We also look at some free on-line software aimed at helping you to better manage your own client base and related sales process. A micro-business can and should be every bit as effective as the big firms.
So, on to the home run to Xmas! Wishing you every success for chaotic month ahead.
Contrary to popular belief a recent study by Monash University found that the majority of freelances wholeheartedly jumped into their independent Freelance role and don't regret the decision one little bit.
Eight different push/pull criteria were examined. A 'sense of freedom' appeared to be one of the major drivers with close to 80% of respondents stating that it played a significant role in their decision to become a freelance consultant. Other contributing factors were flexible work hours, variety of work and perceived ability to earn more money.
Conversely, the majority of Freelancers found that factors such as difficulty finding work, tight labour market, being laid off and job loss had no role to play in their decision.
Represents approximately 20% of the total workforce (ATO), the Freelance workforce must be one of the least understood and understudied sectors of the community. A clear understanding must be crucial for anyone wanting to interact with this group.
Recently, Independent Contractors Australia with the support of the Commonwealth Bank set out to develop a much better understanding of this dynamic group.
Accordingly three of Australia's largest databases from the Australian Tax Office, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Roy Morgan Research were examined by researchers from Monash University. The goal was to clearly identify and summarise the key features that typified the Freelance community.
What the research revealed was that the average age for the typical freelance consultant was 35+ with 50% of men and 58% of females being aged between the ages of 35-54. Interestingly however the research shows that females dominate the Professional category with a presence of 62% but when work hours were compared men on average worked 44 hours whereas females worked an average of 27.This very significant differentiation in work hours suggesting that the profile and possibly the motivations for females in freelance work may be quiet distinct from other forms of employment. Female workers also dominated the clerical & administration as well as community & personal service vertical. Males dominated very significantly in the technical & trade sectors.
The research also showed that 41% of freelancers are more likely to earn more than the average Australian 'dismissing the notion of self employment as a low skill option'. The Roy Morgan data also showed that the 'self employed' also dominate the 'Big Spender' category. The report highlights that the high representation of females in various industry verticals 'is that they are likely to be quite distinct and be strongly motivated, possibly by childcare and caring for dependents'.
The summary of the report states 'we have been able to actually prove that the terms 'micro-business', 'self-employed', 'independent contractor' etc are all interchangeable and are collectively and individually appropriate terms to describe the sector.
The defining essence of their work life is that their individuality is their business'.
Click here to download the report.
Like any other business, micro-businesses have a requirement to properly manage their sales process by utilising a sales management/CRM system. Most recently I discovered a free internet based CRM system (for 3 or less users) which does just that. This application allows you to manage your clients, differentiate between leads, prospects and potentials and allocates a weighting for where you are in the sales cycle. It provides a graphical view of your sales funnel and projects the value of sales you expect to close this month and next. It allows you to manage marketing campaigns and a bunch of other sales related activities. Just because you're a freelancer doesn't mean that you can't apply the same discipline to your business as a large firm. Take a look at www.zoho.com/crm. Lovely stuff!
According to Hays recruitment group, more organisations are employing freelance staff on a regular basis. Freelance figures rose to 20% in 2010 up from 16% in 2009. Hays NSW GM Graham Doyle argues that despite this increase the 'flexible workforce model is still under utilised in that it allows firms a way of tapping into new skill sets minimising the impact of future skill shortages. Flexibility is the key, with ability to redistribute, increase or decrease resources as the needs of the business change'.
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