That is a shocking statistic, especially when you consider that the last time our country had self-employment levels that high was during the early 19th Century, when the United States was largely a nation of “shopkeepers and family farmers”. We do not know exactly because the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal agency that tracks this stuff, was not established until 1884. And it has not been a steady increase towards 42% – in 2006 the number was around 30%, and we are only now seeing the hockey-stick graph spike towards this new employment model.
Why is it happening? Because technology, access to information, and mobility are greater than they have ever been. The speed of growth (and decline) of companies is faster than it has ever been, and companies are increasingly relying on flexible staffing models, and smaller business partners, to do today’s work. Companies are no longer the machines they once were, they are the conveners and the purveyors of ideas, pulling together the right teams with the right resources at the right time. That’s a very different model than making widgets.
What does it mean for you? You have to have a strategy – just like businesses have theirs. You are your own agent – which is a scary thing, but also a great thing. Take control, define your future, and show the world what you have to offer. They’re waiting for you.