4 skills you need to be successful in the freelance economy

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By Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation

A freelancer working at home with hands raised in triumph

How many people currently make up the freelance economy? More than 57 million U.S. workers, according to a recent survey. This comes out to roughly 36 percent of the workforce participating in independent employment that can range from ride-share driving to freelance writing.

Working in these roles is a commitment. In addition to knowing business best practices, such as creating a business entity (yes, this applies to serious freelancers, too) and finding small business insurance, it takes a certain set of skills to succeed as a freelancer. Whether you’re a part-time freelancer after hours or it’s your full-time job, developing these skills can lead to success:

1. A work ethic that won’t quit

Everyone has days where they don’t feel like working. The good news for individuals in the freelance economy is that they have scheduling wiggle room. It’s not necessary to work nine to five, and you can adjust your hours to fit your needs.

Flexible schedule aside, self-employed workers still need to possess a strong work ethic to get the job done. Otherwise, it’s a slippery slope that could lead to unsatisfactory results and falling behind on assignments and budget goals.

2. Agility

Approximately 40% of field service work will be completed by freelancers by the year 2020, according to Gartner. While the changing workforce is due to a series of factors, including technology advancements, freelancers may be the key to keeping companies agile. Contractors can work from any location and have the flexibility to make themselves available as necessary. As a result, they tend to be pretty productive – in fact, 83 percent of business leaders consider them to be more productive than employees.

Agility also translates to your skill sets. How nimble would you describe yourself within your line of work? Agile people thrive in the gig economy because they’re able to leap from one task to the next seamlessly. If they don’t have this ability yet, they may be working on it. This means taking classes where they can learn or improve upon skills.

This is a win-win for freelance workers and their clients. Self-employed workers are able to expand their portfolio and services with more offerings. Clients reap those benefits for their businesses, bringing in more sales, which is good for the company and the freelancer who may charge more for their services moving forward.

3. Financial literacy

This is a tricky skill to manage, even for freelancers who are good with money. How do you determine how much to charge? Should you charge per hour or project? What about submitting invoices? And how do you do your taxes?

While I can’t provide financial advice, I do recommend meeting with an accountant or tax professional, who can help you gain additional financial literacy as a freelance worker. Chances are, you’ll be unsure about a few areas when you get started. For example, what’s the best percentage of money to put aside for taxes and other expenses from each freelance check? A financial professional will be able to walk you through the process and address any questions you may have.

4. A good attitude

Success in any capacity goes back to your attitude. It’s how you approach an assignment, even if it’s challenging. A great attitude will help you get through all of the sea changes that life – as a freelancer or otherwise – brings your way. You’ll also be made more memorable for it. Word will get around that you’re a thoughtful, hardworking freelancer. More people will reach out to you to discuss working together, and your reputation will allow you to build a strong network. Your dream client could be just around the corner, ready to approach you at any minute.

Headshot of Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services.

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