I'll be the first to admit that "freelancer" used to carry a less than admirable connotation in my mind. "Freelancer" used to be the pretty word for "between jobs" or "unemployed." Those days are gone.
I am not alone in my thinking.
Sixty-five percent of those surveyed say that freelancing has become a more respectable career path within the past three years.
Freelancers have even developed their own name for their community, or what they are calling the "gig economy." Data suggests that 1 in 3 Americans are part of the gig economy in some way.
As the vice president of Dell for Small Business, I'm acutely aware of the need for small businesses to bring in outside help when it comes to IT strategy. The word "small business" itself indicates that these businesses operate with a limited number of folks, most of whom have to wear multiple hats.
Small businesses don't have an IT department. When you're a freelancer, that problem is amplified. Why? Because freelancers don't just wear multiple hats. They wear all the hats for their one-person business.
So what should we do? Tell the gig economy to settle down?
With 55 million Americans freelancing in 2016 and freelancers contributing $1 trillion in annual earnings to our economy, asking the gig economy to slow its growth isn't likely to produce a positive reaction.
To top it off, a lot of freelancers one day grow and become employers themselves, blooming from "side hustles" to full-fledged "next-big-things."
And while lack of IT guidance is a problem for small businesses that lack an IT department of their own, it's an even bigger problem for freelancers. One day of lost productivity for a freelancer because of a technology snafu can be catastrophic for their book of business, with clients needing and expecting the expertise of their hired freelancers.
That's why Dell treats freelancers like all of our small business customers, providing IT advisors when you're too small to have an IT department of your own. After all, just because you're only one person doesn't mean you can't make a big impact.
I recently sat down with Chris Schembra, freelancer and founder of the 747 Club, and Jessica Quinn, CEO of NY Tech Alliance, to discuss the future of freelancing, where it came from, and where it's going. Check it out.