A few years ago, when somebody mentioned the gig economy, you may have assumed it primarily applied to ride-share drivers and freelance journalists. In the modern business world, though, the gig economy extends across virtually every sector, industry and profession — accounting and finance very much included.
Even pre-pandemic, many organizations had adopted new staffing models that paired full-time finance employees with consultants, contract workers and other interim staff. This trend was on track to grow exponentially even before businesses around the world were suddenly forced to switch to remote work. Whatever your background or focus area, if you work in accounting and finance, there’s never been a better time to explore the gig economy.
Once you start looking into the possibilities, you may ask yourself why you ever waited. The flexibility to work anywhere, the freedom to choose your jobs and the financial rewards all sound promising. Before you commit to the life of an independent finance professional, though, you’ll want to ask yourself these five questions:
1. Am I ready to be my boss?
Don’t be too quick to answer. While there are obvious advantages to steering your own ship, you have to be realistic about the amount of discipline required. Are you ready to hustle to find work, make connections, retain clients, build schedules and learn the latest in-demand skills?
If all that sounds exciting, treat the next four questions as a mock job interview — since being an independent finance professional means being the boss and the employee, you need to know the candidate is up for the role.
2. Where will I fit into the gig economy?
The term “independent finance professional” is a catch-all for a wide variety of workers, from consultants and contractors to remote auditors and sole practitioners. If you’re going to switch into the gig economy, it’s up to you to research your field and find out what roles you can effectively fill.
One option is to work with an agency that places contract workers, but that may not be ideal or even viable depending on your aspirations. The global gig economy brought in $347 billion this year alone, and that figure is on track to expand to $455 billion by 2023. With that kind of money changing hands, the number of possible accounting and finance roles is obviously massive and only going to expand — but it’s up to you to identify them.
3. Where can I find work?
The pandemic didn’t create the demand for remote and interim workers, but it did accelerate it. The good news is that finding work in the gig economy is easier than ever — if you know where to look.
Depending on your area of expertise, you’ll want to employ all the traditional job-hunting approaches. LinkedIn will be your best friend as you tap existing connections and make new ones. By building or expanding your professional network, you’ll position yourself to take advantage of personal referrals to opportunities you might have otherwise missed.
4. What qualifications do I need?
Specialists are always in high demand, especially on temporary jobs with quick turnaround times. Unlike a traditional full-time job that may involve some training when you start, as an independent finance professional you’ll be expected to hit the ground running — and that includes holding any licensure, certifications or other qualifications the position and region demands.
Speaking of regions — and speaking — being bilingual can multiply your job markets. If you want to expand your opportunities, expand your fluency.
5. Do I have everything I need to thrive as an independent finance professional?
Working from the comfort of your home sounds great in theory, but there can be a dark side — ask anyone who’s been caught going pantsless during a video conference. To make it as an independent finance professional, you need a reliably quiet and professional-appearing environment for the inevitable calls and virtual meetings.
Being able to create your workspace can be fun and fulfilling, but you’ll be the one footing the bill for all necessary technology, equipment and other resources. These will just be your starting expenses, too, since most interim positions don’t include benefits such as health care, insurance or a retirement plan.
This brings us to the last essential you need to have as an independent finance professional moving from gig to gig — a willingness to lead a professional life that is defined by a certain degree of uncertainty.
If the last year-and-a-half has taught us anything, though, it’s that the future isn’t guaranteed regardless if one is full-time, part-time or fully independent. With all the exciting new prospects available to remote and interim workers, there’s never been a better time to branch out into the gig economy. Are you ready?
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