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.
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.