Individuals who may be on the fence about making the leap from full-time to freelance should find comfort in knowing that companies continue to expand their need for skilled consultants in areas across all industries and business divisions.
The freelance market contributes over $1.4 trillion to the US economy and is poised to become the majority of the US workforce by 2027.
As a company that empowers individuals to work for themselves, we’re constantly asked, “How is the market for consulting trending?” So, we compiled our top six freelance consulting trends heading into 2024!
1. The number of freelance consultants continues to grow
There are currently 73.3 million freelancers in the U.S.A. and this number is forecasted to reach 90.1 million by 2028. (Statista)
Additionally, more companies are open to hiring freelance consultants rather than full time employees to mitigate the risk of long-term employment costs. Instead, they are focused on high priority projects and performance-based outcomes that can most often be achieved by a contracted employee.
2. Bigger marketplaces is not better for freelance consultants
The race to build massive freelance marketplaces is apparently slowing (Forbes). Running and maintaining large organizations like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Toptal is very expensive.
These platforms commoditize talent for the sake of efficiency and profit which often means a race towards zero for a consultant trying to price their work.
There are two basic strategies for winning consulting projects: low cost or differentiation. Massive freelance platforms tend to force consultants into undercharging for their work just so they can win gigs on a crowded platform.
3. Companies are looking for skilled freelance consultants in nearly every industry
There is a misconception that freelance consultants only work in fields like engineering. In a recent study by Business Talent Group (BTG), the top 10 areas for freelance consultants include strategy/internal consulting, marketing, operations, human resources, business and corporate development, procurement, interim leadership roles, digital and tech, profit and loss leaders, and innovation/research and development.
Not sure if you fall into one of these categories? Use our guide to hone your niche.
4. The importance of connections, network, teams, and community
As a consultant you are a business-of-one. However, in the evolving landscape of freelancing in 2024, the importance of community has become a central theme.
Many freelance marketplaces struggle to foster a sense of community among it’s members, making it difficult to network, make meaningful connections, and interact with other freelancers.
Networking and community can lead to more opportunities, but there is another reason for you to invest the time to connect consultants.
Companies in 2023 and going into 2024 are increasingly seeking flexible and specialized freelance teams in lieu of traditional internal talent. If you can find other consultants who work with the same type of client as you, in complimentary functions, you can take on bigger and more lucrative projects.
Are you already a member of our community for consultants?
5. Project management is one of the most in-demand skills
Regardless of industry or background, project management skills continue to be one of the most sought after needs. Given that many freelance consulting roles are project-based and require progress tracking and outcomes, we recommend highlighting your project management skills when developing your proposal. If you’re considering the investment in continued education, you might even consider becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP).
6. Companies are paying for outcomes, not hours worked
In a more traditional work environment, full-time and freelance employees were expected to track and report on hours worked instead of project outcomes. As more companies are considering outsourcing work to freelance consultants, they are also structuring the project based on outcomes instead of time worked.
As you are developing your proposal to work with potential clients, don’t hesitate to propose a payment agreement that is contingent upon outcomes or performance instead of hours worked. This will increase your autonomy as a self-employed team member and drive results instead of punching a clock. This allows you to take control of your work-life balance and track the milestones within the project as a key to success.
As we look ahead to the remainder of 2023, we predict that freelance consulting and self-employment will continue to rise. If you’re someone who has plans to scale their consulting business in 2024 then Mylance is here to help.
Every Mylance team member has done consulting. We're experts, and we've seen what consulting enables: more time with our families, traveling the world, more time on passion projects, or to start that business we've been dreaming about.