Will 2013 Be the Year You Make the Break?

If your early New Year’s resolution is to quit a miserable job you hate, now may be the right time to make a move.

Demand for freelancers seems to be percolating. According to the Global Business Survey by the talent marketplace Elance, the average company hiring on the site predicted that 54% of its workforce would be working online by 2017. Elance is predicting that companies of every size will hire twice as many of these workers in 2013 as last year.

Also fueling the demand is the trend toward “fractional” ownership, according to Elance’s 2013 Online Work Predictions. More of us are gravitating toward services that let us share things instead of owning them in their entirety — from the car sharing service Zipcar for automobiles to airbnb for places to stay.

Employers are thinking along the same lines, according to Elance. Some are realizing that rather than let projects go undone until they have enough work to support hiring a full-time employee, they’re better off contracting with someone reliable for, say, 10 hours a week. When I spoke with Elance CEO Fabio Rosati a few weeks back, he told me that underlying the trend is a flight to quality: More employers are seeing the value of great, reliable freelancers and want to make sure these pros are available when they need them. They don’t want to start over with a brand new freelancer every time. That’s good news for freelancers seeking retainer work to stabilize their income.

With market forces driving demand for freelancers, Elance is bullish that more people will quit their jobs to meet the demand. Interestingly, its predictions note that Obamacare may give them support to make this move. If the health reform works as intended, it will make affordable health plans more accessible to many self-employed people. In my experience, the high cost of health insurance is the number one deterrent to freelancing.

Not everyone is cut out for full-time freelancing, of course. (To find out if you are, check out our article: “Six questions to determine if you are cut out for freelancing.”) Taking on some freelance gigs in your off hours can be a smart way to test the waters. Elance’s Global Business survey found that 40% of respondents held a full-time job and did online work on the side when they first started freelancing.  It’s an ideal way to figure out if you like running your own business, before you take the risk of abandoning a steady paycheck.



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