West Michigan, like so many other areas, is still working on climbing out of what is conservatively described as a down economy. As part of the fallout of the economy’s struggles, many West Michigan workers became resilient and struck out on their own. Instead of toiling in the process of finding some kind of an opening with another business, these workers became freelancers.
Freelance work is pretty simple. Instead of being an employee of a larger business, you hang out your own shingle and do what you do best. Freelance workers, or self-employed workers, are their own bosses and with a shift in the economy are becoming more and more prevalent. Some freelance workers have seen some real success while on their own.
Photographer Brian Kelly struck out on his own 15 years ago. He now has had his work published in CFO Magazine, GQ, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal Weekend, Seventeen, TIME and Popular Mechanics. He also has corporate clients like Amway, ArtPrize, Haworth, Steelcase and Zondervan. Michael Yoder, a social media/business consultant, has founded LinkedUp Grand Rapids, a networking group with over 10,000 members; gives frequent seminars on business marketing and development in the digital age; and does contract work for larger businesses, including Walker-based Meijer.
While Kelly and Yoder might be a couple of the more successful freelancers in the Grand Rapids area, their stories show that there is potential for success outside of big business. Freelancers might not have the ability to compete for some of the larger jobs that are on the market, but they have the ability to fit the market that big business sometimes struggle to capture.
Freelancers flexibility allows them to not only fit what their clients need but they can also better fit the budget of the smaller customers and clients. Big business is so busy competing for the big contracts and big customers, that they are not able to provide the services that smaller clients might need or their pricing is above what smaller clients can afford. Freelancers are able to easily fill that role.
One of the important things to remember is that even though you are a freelancer, you are still a business. As such, you need to take the proper steps to form your small business appropriately in order to protect yourself. Probably more importantly, it is important to have solid contracts in place that ensure that you will be compensated for your work or will not be held liable for someone else’s mistakes. A freelance business attorney can help assist you with all of these aspects of your freelance business.
Source: “The art of hustling: Freelancers must find balance with self-employment” by Nick Manes