A new survey shows freelancers plan to quit their 9-to-5 jobs within the next two years. Are you one of these hopefuls?

More than seven in 10 freelancers who still hold down “regular” jobs plan to break away and work for themselves in the near future, according to a survey conducted by Millennial Branding, a Gen Y consulting firm, and oDesk, a popular online worksite.

Of nearly 3,200 freelancers worldwide who were interviewed as part of the new study, “Millennials and the Future of Work,” 72 percent revealed that they’re keen to quit their 9-to-5 and strike out on their own. More than 60 percent said they’ll likely make that move within two years, citing a desire for freedom to pick and choose where and when they work.

It’s not just a question of working from home and shunning the 9-to-5 lifestyle. While flexibility undoubtedly appeals to freelancers, 69 percent of respondents saw freelancing as providing more freedom to work on more interesting projects.

Take note, employers: your employees want to spread their wings sooner than you might think.

Redefining entrepreneurship

The survey also generated some interesting findings when it comes to what people mean by the term “entrepreneur.” Only 10 percent of those who responded defined an entrepreneur as “someone who starts a company,” while the overwhelming majority considered entrepreneurship as a certain attitude or mindset. When asked to define what this mindset might be, the terms “self-starter,” “risk taker,” “visionary” and someone who “spots opportunity” all came to the fore.

“This signals a major shift in our economy and how we manage our careers,” said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself. “Entrepreneurship is now accessible to everyone regardless of age or occupation. You don’t need to own a business to be an entrepreneur, but you do need the entrepreneurial mindset to be successful in business.”

Talking ’bout my generation

With this in mind, many of the respondents classify themselves as entrepreneurs—nearly 60 percent, in fact. But will they all follow through on their entrepreneurship dream? Or is Gen Y getting too big for its boots?

“Narcissism is markedly higher among college students in the 2000s compared to those in the 1980s,” says Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who runs studies on Millennial attitudes. Yes, this generation has seen the likes of Facebook’s and YouTube’s rise to stratospheric heights, witnessed the birth of the smartphone and the unbridled popularity of the app—yet is Gen Y somewhat delusional?

And will the 72 percent who say they intend to quit their jobs and forge their own paths make good on their promise? It’s easy to announce intentions, but far tougher to see them through, especially in challenging economic times.

Are you one of these freelancers who plan to transition to working for yourself? How will you make that dream a reality?

Amy Noble is a freelance writer, copy editor, proofreader and general grammar-obsessive living in London, England.


  1. Sebastian Daniels

    I am hoping to make the change eventually. I am working with an editor on rewriting my first book and I have just started my second one. I have just started a blog eight days ago and I am saving up as much money as I can. I think it is a mind-set rather than starting up a business because I have no desire to set up a business, just want to be my own boss and write books.

    My dream is to live the life I want to live and not be under the rule of a nine-to-five. I might be a little delusional and narcissistic, but I don’t think trying to make this dreams is a bad thing. I am in my early twenties and grew in the myspace/facebook generation.


    • Anthea

      If you’re serious about making a living writing books, I recommend checking out Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog and the resources on her site. Writers can’t afford to ignore the fact that they are also business owners!

      • Sebastian Daniels

        I am guessing I should just google her name : D. I’ll see if I can find it.

  2. Cat Alford

    I am!! I’m hoping to take the leap in December! Wish me luck!

    • Sebastian Daniels

      Goodluck. I hope it works out for you!

    • Xavier

      Best of luck. I also strike out in December, a day before my birthday. That will be my rebirth. Haha!

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  4. KarlRoche

    Being “keen” and actually doing it are two very different things.

  5. Enik

    After knowing who you are and what you like, figuring out how to do is the easiest part of it. I think a lot of us are s@cking in our everyday jobs, dealing with clients, meeting deadlines, “when I will be fired”, etc . So for me it makes more sense to do what we love and can bring to table than do things on “set of rules” which are oldfashioned, meaningless, unproductive energy vampires. And about the ways we are going it is not that is hard. But craving a new path needs a lot of creativity which with the best interests takes a helluve lot of time. So I’m not sorry of being slow, and taking pride on doing it right.

  6. Jennifer Roland

    I’m researching the same thing, and I am finding that freelancers not only are looking to get the heck out of their day jobs, but also are struggling to find ways to keep from getting burned out while working two (or more) gigs.


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  8. Ryan Mattock

    Great article and this is exactly the reason that we are launching http://www.commissiononlysalesjobs.co.uk in the next few months!

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