When Kindall Bennett lost her job as a multimedia designer in July, she took the initiative to start her own business.

I thought about it for a while, but when I got laid off, it set me on fire, says this 29-year-old woman who lives with her husband Stephen in Valley, Ala. It was: Hey, look. You may not think you’re ready, but just go for it and figure it out as you go. ”

Kindall Bennett began a freelance career in multimedia design after she was laid off in July.

Photo:

Binna Rendon.

She studied video tutorials on LinkedIn about what is now often called work on demand, and booked her first freelance assignment in September. Since then, it has been offering services such as web design and digital marketing on a contractual basis. Although Ms. Bennett says self-employment is difficult, she hopes to pursue a career in this field someday.

Covid would accelerate and legalize the use of entertainment workers by businesses.

– Joseph Fuller, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School.

Ms Bennett is one of thousands of people – from millennials to executives – who have become self-employed during the pandemic, from highly skilled giants in fields such as IT, to sole traders starting one-man operations, to freelancers offering specialist services such as data analytics and digital marketing.

Some of this is part of the unreported economy – often cash transactions per person that are not included in the data. However, one measure points to a dramatic increase in the number of people setting up as self-employed. A portion of those starting their own business apply for a tax identification number, and Census Bureau data shows that the number of applications from businesses that are expected to have no employees in the fourth quarter of 2020 has increased by 33% year-over-year. However, in July they rose 77% from the previous three months – the biggest quarterly jump in 16 years of records.

Toptal, a freelance platform that connects companies with software engineers, designers and consultants, reported that 286,000 freelancers registered on its site between March and mid-January, an increase of 189,000 for all of 2019. Unlike drivers or couriers, these self-employed jobs are usually technological, financial and operational in nature.

Covid will accelerate and legitimize the use of giants in organizations, says Joseph Fuller, professor of management practices at Harvard Business School and co-chair of the Managing the Future of Work research project. This forces companies to inflate some of their concerns about telecommuting for their employees in general, and makes it easier to abuse telecommuters and third parties in ways they may not have anticipated.

With more and more people thinking about starting their own business from home, here are some tips for success.

Finding out what you are good at.

Often, when you want to be independent, you throw spaghetti against the wall and hope something sticks, or you say: I will go far, I will cast a wide net. Well, you need to do the exact opposite, says Marianne Ruggiero, career counselor, founder and president of Optima Careers. The market rewards specialization.

Consider the relevance of your area of work as large and small businesses adapt to social distance and telecommuting.

And don’t forget to analyze not only your strengths, but also what you like most about your job, advises career coach Sarina Virk Torrendell.

Share your ideas

Did you freelance during the pandemic, or are you thinking about it? What’s your advice? Join the discussion below.

Thinking about checks and balances

Since being self-employed no longer means a fixed salary, you need to review your finances when you land, Ruggiero says. Keep in mind that it can take a long time to get to a concert…. and between concerts. Ask: How long can you swim alone? she says. Ms Virk Torrendell recommends consulting a tax advisor.

People who thrive on self-employment are those who realize how uncertain incomes and overall stability will be, according to a study with Brianna Barker Caza, assistant professor of management at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Talk to your loved ones, whose lives are directly affected by your financial situation, about fluctuations in independence, she advises.

Think about things you automatically arranged when you worked for the company, such as B. Sickness and vacation insurance.

Adam Rosenberg, now communications director at Vindex, an airport technology company, worked as a freelancer for a few months after being laid off in June.

Photo:

Katelyn Klenowski.

Adam Rosenberg, who was fired from his public relations position in the months following his departure in June, recommends talking to others who are self-employed or have done contract work to learn about the financial process. No one succeeds on the first try, says the 40-year-old Boston native, who now works full-time as director of communications for Vindex, a technology company that specializes in airports. Your first contract will always pay much less than it should.

Follow industry websites and ask other self-employed people in your area about market prices so you can set your prices accordingly.

Learn to read the fine print of a contract carefully or seek advice from someone who can look at the contract objectively, advises Professor Fuller of Harvard Business School.

Check your contacts

Try to get new customers: People you know from their previous jobs, maybe you sold them something and they were customers, maybe you were a purchasing manager and they were salespeople, says Ms. Ruggiero, a career counselor. Start using your network to get orders.

You can also use these contacts for advice, says Professor Fuller. You don’t have to say this: Can you give me a gig? But you can say it: Do you use these platforms? Which one is the best? He says. Summary: Work in your network.

Professional groups of like-minded people working for themselves or for jobs in social media can also help you network and find a job.

Check platforms

Many online platforms connect self-employed people with companies that want employment contracts, such as Braintrust, Catalant,

Fifty,

Toptal and Upwork, in addition to larger career sites like LinkedIn.

As a rule, membership is free and commissions are charged for signed contracts. As with any site where you upload profiles and search for matches, you should read the privacy policy carefully to make sure you agree with what the company does with your information.

Be as accurate as possible in your profile to efficiently find matches on websites. The words you use and the way you describe yourself increase or decrease the likelihood that the algorithms will say : Hey, this guy seems like a good guy, let me spit him out so he qualifies for the job.

Your goal should be to put multiple projects on your account and complete them correctly to keep your ratings and rankings high on the sites.

Difficult to support

Newcomers need to be aware of the constant stress and be prepared for the amount of work they will have to put in to get the next job. They’ve taken on this marketing role in a way they didn’t have to for a larger organization, says psychologist John Weaver, owner of the stress management and mental health clinics. They need to learn the skill or hire someone to help them do so, he says.

Becoming better organized

Keep in mind that you will likely be asked to take on non-essential tasks that the company has already done in the past. For some people, it’s amazing how many organizations literally organize our lives in important ways and how stressful it can be to have total freedom to do your job, says Dr. Caza. One memorable piece of advice on how to deal with this situation came from an independent woman she recently interviewed for a research project: Develop procedures and practices for the organization. View notifications and reminders, write or type notes, detailed calendars and task lists for large projects, and thumbnail views of the desktop.

Don’t feel lonely.

While many people have been working from home or remotely since last March, there is something else to do while working for yourself. When you work for a company, you are isolated, but not completely cut off. You are always in touch with your peers, says Dr. Weaver, a psychologist. Those who work alone do not. Your contacts will be your customers. That’s why many people join a local business group or chamber of commerce or CEO roundtable or peer group in the same area, he says. It’s very important. On social media, you can find groups for freelancers or freelancers in your field.

Email Ray A. Smith at [email protected]

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