Several months ago now (March 2014) I happily reentered life as an entrepreneur as a freelance consultant to marketing agencies. For over five years now I have served as a marketing strategist, leading social media and digital communications strategies for marketing agencies. My most immediate need was to connect with the marketing agencies that had begun reaching out for my assistance with account strategy, business development, and consultation on developing their agency services.
Pondering the future of my small enterprise, I considered my options of how I would conduct business, either as a freelance consultant or to build a new company. Having previously co-founded a marketing agency in ClickSpring, I knew the hard work and time involved in building a brand from the ground up.
I felt the urge to build something leaner and simpler, reflecting a theme I have approached in relationships and in establishing a new life for me and my daughters. I wanted something transparent and accessible that placed my personal brand out front rather than the cloak of an entity that I would have to create from scratch. It turns out that brands can be illuminating, but they can also obfuscate. Brands, while they can serve to bind a group of professionals into a larger more substantial entity, can also serve to conceal the principals their qualifications (or lack there of). For that reason I chose to stick to my personal brand over creating another.
Deciding to DBA Scott Eggert was freeing. It also left me with the choice of how to separate the business from the person. I considered alternate names, such as Scott Eggert Consulting or the aggrandized Scott Eggert Enterprises, sort of like a plumber or a painter who adds their trade to the end of their name. I knew I did not want to incorporate at this point, so Scott Eggert Inc. was really not a consideration. This realization gave birth to the idea of UNINCORPORATED.
SO WHAT IS UNINCORPORATED?
Unincorporated to begin with is a bit wonky. Well, so am I. Some would say that if your name requires explanation, that’s a problem. I disagree. My first company was Ohana. Customers always asked what it meant and it was always a great opportunity to talk about Ohana as a family company (Ohana means family). So long as I can hone what Unincorporated means it can be a great talking point, and that fact that it is a bit odd and requires explanation could be a good starting place if you’re getting to know me.
Being unincorporated equals freedom. Agency life for me has for the most part been really positive. The relationships I have built have continued until this day. Agencies are full of the most creative a vibrant professionals I have ever encountered. Seriously, some of them are the actually artists who pretend to be graphic designers or videographers. Agency life often includes travel and the opportunity to work with exciting brands.
Agency life, in many cases, also has involved a work environment that is demanding and life consuming. It’s this last part that I have little patience for any longer. As a father, one of my greatest pleasures is cooking meals with and for my daughters and helping them with their homework. As a single father, life inside of the agency meant few evenings at home to eat together or help with school work. My unincorporation has left me unencumbered from twelve hour workdays, senseless meetings, poorly conceived corporate culture, and cubicles.
Freedom from the workplace has also meant an hour and a half of my day that I do not spend commuting that I can replace with something healthy and self serving, like kayaking which I do two to four times a week. Spending time on the water being active has not only served my physical health, but the time paddling give me time to focus, like time spent meditating. Kayaking has become a sanctuary for me. Even though it requires work, it provides rest and refreshment.
Freedom has also come in the form of choice. Choice to decide who I want to work with and what type of marketing I’d like to participate in. It turns out there is no shortage of great people to work for or partner with in marketing. The agencies I have partnered with so far are equally accomplished in their portfolios as they are fostering strong productive partnerships. I also get to choose what types products I want to marketing. For instance, Kilroy Communications in Tampa, where I serve as Director of Digital and Social Media, predominantly markets agricultural products and healthy brands which excites me.
My unincorporation has ushered in a delightful balance that I have yet to experience before. For me this means enough opportunity to keep food on the table, but not so much busyness that I can not participate and enjoy the lives of my children. I have been encouraged by some light reading, such as Out of Office by Chris Ward which reinforces a work from home or work from coffee shop lifestyle. Also encouraging was a SBA.gov report earlier this year about the rise of independent workers. The findings of the SBA report include that:
Independents have a positive impact on the economy – The MBO study reports a 5% increase in independent workers when compared to 2012 – up to 17.7 million. And with these numbers comes a noteworthy contribution to the economy. Independents generated nearly $1.2 trillion in total income both globally and locally, up a whopping 20% from 2012. They also spent over $150 billion on non-payroll/contractor expenses.
Independents hire other independents – The vast majority of independent workers are “solopreneurs” and don’t have traditional employees, but that doesn’t mean they work alone. Through contract hiring over the past year, 26% of independent workers spent a total of $96 billion to hire the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers.
Independents want to grow their businesses – One in seven independents plan on building a bigger business, which means that close to 2.5 million independent workers will launch businesses that will create additional traditional jobs and ignite even greater economic activity.
Independents are feeling less burdened – As it becomes more conventional to have an independent work style, independents are finding more tools and solutions to overcome challenges they face. Concerns over retirement, project pipelines, benefits, self-marketing and job security all fell slightly from the 2011 base year.
Independents are happy in their work – Job satisfaction remains strong among independent workers, with 64% reporting that they are highly satisfied with their work style. Most plan to continue as independent workers, with 77% saying they will either continue as “solopreneurs” (63%) or grow a larger business (14%).
The benefits of independent work appears to be attracting growing numbers from the American workforce. The flexibility and lifestyle has many appealing qualities. Have you ever taken the plunge, or are you thinking about it? Please do share.