Why it’s easier to be your own boss than you think

Cheerful young brunet freelancer is smiling, typing on his laptop in nice modern work station at home, in casual smart wear(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Deagreez)
Herndon, Virginia-based management services provider MBO Partners has just released its ninth-annual “State of Independence in America” report looking at the impact of the gig economy, and it might not be as difficult to break out on your own as a contractor, consultant or freelancer as you may think.

It is definitely not as expensive as it once was.

“You can get things for free now, whether it is collaboration tools, email, websites, marketing. There are talent marketplaces out there where work can find people and people can find work,” Gene Zaino, MBO Partners founder and CEO, told WTOP.

“To start a business today, it is a couple of thousand dollars at best. Years ago, you would need ten times that to really go into business,” he said.

It is estimated that by 2024, more than half of Americans will be working, or have worked, as a contractor at some point in their careers.

“The overwhelming reason for why people go off and do independent work is control to do the kind of work they love to do. It is about flexibility. And it is really about having more security in terms of the things they feel they are best at. It is a way for them to pursue a passion,” Zaino said.

The 41 million independent workers in America generated almost $1.3 trillion in revenue for the U.S. economy last year.

More workers are breaking out only part-time, with a side gig in addition to their full-time job. The number of Americans with a so-called “side hustle” to supplement their income has risen 40% since 2016, to 15 million Americans.

The No. 1 downside to becoming your own boss is health insurance.

“Many of the independent workers that we survey are either getting health care through their spouse, or they do go onto the exchanges, which is very expensive,” Zaino said.

Even so, MBO’s report says more than half of full-time independent workers say they feel more financially secure as independents than in traditional jobs — a record high.

MBO’s 2019 report is based on responses to an online survey in March 2019 from almost 4,000 U.S. adults.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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