Freelance Slackers?

Has the term “freelancer” developed a negative connotation?

Tuesday, a group of fellow West Seattle soloists met at Elliott Bay Brewery on California Ave SW. Kim Francisco of The Phoenix Studio and I discussed positioning for small businesses, and the perceptions of freelance workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statics
reports ~10.3 million workers, 7.4% of the workforce, are employed as independent contractors. Despite the double-digit growth of outsourcing, it seems some folks affiliate freelancing with purposeless unattachment–the 1099 drifter. That’s when I read David Scharfenberg’s Gen-X op-ed in the Boston Globe.

During this economic downtown, if you only read or listen to Big Media news, then you may forget that the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that small businesses (under 500 employees):

  • pay 45% of U.S. private payroll,
  • generate 80 percent of new jobs,
  • make up 29% of U.S. exports, and
  • produce 13 times more patents per employee than large firms.

According to the last census, small businesses also

  • constituted 99.7% of all employers
  • employed 52 percent of private workforce
  • accounted for 51 percent of the nation’s sales
  • are most likely to generate jobs for young workers, older workers and women,
  • provided 67 percent of first jobs
  • produced 55 percent of innovations

To learn more about the rise of small business and the soloist economy, check out former Clinton speechwriter Daniel Pink’s book: Free Agent Nation.

You can call me a freelancer or a free agent–just call me free.