The growth of outsourcing is accelerating, and the benefits of forgoing “getting a job” to become self-employed are more attractive all the time.
Flexible work schedules, working from desirable locations, tax advantages, and control of income are all benefits enjoyed by outsourced professional contractors. In this article, programming expert and systems engineer Ravi Bahethi introduces independent contracting to those graduating from college or entering the job market.
You Are Your Own Boss
Many independent contractors list being their own boss as a significant advantage. However, “being your own boss” is somewhat of a misnomer, because you don’t really “boss” anyone around. You are in business for yourself and your “bosses” are your customers, who can pull you in many directions. However, entrepreneurs are not dependent on any single customer like they would be on an employee. This independence is considered a blessing by many.
Although being an entrepreneur is a lot of work, contractors can choose what types of projects they are willing to take on. The power to avoid work that you do not want to do can provide high levels of job satisfaction and fulfillment. You also can choose where you work in most cases, as many programming and development jobs are remote. If you want to live in a city center or work by the beach, you can choose a living arrangement that suits your preferences on location, cost, and amenities. As a contractor, you also have wide latitude in setting your work schedule. You will not need to worry about building up vacation time with a full-time employer before you can take a day or a week for personal reasons or just for vacation and relaxation. You can work long hours when you can enjoy the freedom of making scheduling decisions on your own.
Contractors are also able to choose their co-workers. Some people prefer to work alone on projects, while others like the idea of building up freelancer or contractor teams to tackle projects together or to share space and divide overhead expenses.
Working as a freelance contractor also provides excellent networking opportunities and complete flexibility when it comes to making career decisions. No matter how you use your contracting experience, you will have the ability to move quickly without being tied down to the responsibility you have to a full-time employer.
Real-World Potential for Greater Earnings and Lower Taxes
In addition to setting your own schedule, as an independent contractor, you have the power to work longer hours on more lucrative projects when you choose. Unlike most full-time employees, your income is not fixed to a salary or set benefits schedule. You determine what your work is worth to you, and you can charge a higher rate for work you find less attractive or offer a lower rate to attract work that especially interests you.
There are several tax advantages to working as a self-employed contractor. For example, many business-related expenses can be deductible, including home office costs, rental fees, and some travel costs. You should consult with a tax professional to evaluate your circumstances.
Special Considerations For Contractors
It is essential to understand that the benefits of working as an outsourced contractor come with some considerations that typical full-time employees do not have. Contracting requires that you understand the give and take of a typical contracting workflow. There may be times that you need to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, to keep up, followed by weeks where things become slow, and you are waiting for new projects to appear. This requires patience and the power to handle often unpredictable variability.
Successful contracting also requires that you become an effective negotiator and marketer of your skills. You are likely to find that you need to promote your brand and work hard on making the best possible deal for your services daily. Finding work can be a real challenge as a beginning contractor, and you should think about how to best use your network of friends and professional contacts for leads on projects.
An excellent place to enter the world of entrepreneurship is where you are working now. Ask your supervisor if there are any additional projects you can take on. This will make you a more valuable employee and give you an idea of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Other places you can test the waters are sites like Craigslist and Fiverr. Simply post the services you offer–from web design and photography to cooking. Pursue “help wanted” or short-term gigs on these sites and see if anything piques your interest. If so, try performing that service for a few clients and gather their feedback.
If you are ready to accept total responsibility for your success, life as an independent contractor can be extremely rewarding.
About Ravi Bahethi
Ravi Bahethi specializes in programming and systems engineering and serves both government and industry clients. Mr. Bahethi is a devoted believer in the power of integration of technologies in order to create new and more powerful efficiencies. He is a confident team leader, experienced programmer and systems engineer, and president of Maryland-based Terranet Inc. When he is not working, Ravi enjoys reading, walking, and playing tennis.