Growing a business in 2022 looks a whole lot different than it did just a few years ago . After two years of a global pandemic, the remote work landscape has transformed. Businesses big and small are adjusting their staffing models to accommodate the new normal. And simultaneously, more and more workers are leaving their jobs to pursue a freelance lifestyle, with 28% of Americans now freelancing full-time—an increase of 17% from 2014.
28% of Americans are now freelancing full-time.
COVID was, unquestionably, a huge catalyst for this shift. Nothing says Quit! quite like cabin fever and existential dread. And in 2021, we experienced a “Great Resignation,” with record-high numbers of Americans leaving their jobs. But lockdown is not the only reason our freelance numbers are rising in the U.S. If anything, mass burnout just accelerated a trend that was developing long before COVID came to town.
The gig economy has been growing for years, and it’s thanks in part to the rise in remote work. As technology has evolved to better support distributed workforces, more companies have gone remote, with employees scattering the country and even the globe. And as companies have adapted, workers have gotten a taste of the freedom and flexibility that a remote lifestyle offers. (Spoiler: It’s great.)
Today, over half of non-freelancers are considering freelance work in the future. For workers, the growth in remote work raises big questions: Who do you want to work for—a company or yourself? Does the independence of freelancing outweigh the stability and benefits of a full-time job? And how much would your quality of life improve if you were to set off on your own and work on your terms?
All of these trends were taken into account when we started to ideate and build Harlow – a tool specifically designed for freelancers to manage their business.
While we know eventually Harlow will grow through a mixture of full-time employees and freelancers, we decided early on that we would lean on freelancers to grow and build our business as much as we possibly can (especially in the beginning.)
Here's why we're building Harlow using freelancers.
#1: Freelancers know freelancing.
Our product is built for freelancers. Hiring them just made sense. We’re passionate about staying close to our customers, and having knowledgeable freelancers on our team helps us tune into the challenges our target customers are facing, so we can better solve their problems. You can trust you’re on the right track when the people building your software, writing your copy, and designing your website are the same people you’re marketing to.
#2: Freelancers help us stay competitive.
They work with other businesses that are innovating and growing in their respective industries. They’re exposed to a myriad of problems and solutions each day, which gives them a wide perspective of what works and what doesn’t. This gives us a major competitive advantage. We know that the folks helping us grow are continually growing themselves.
#3: Freelancers help us move quickly.
We’re typically working with experts in their fields. They’re ready to rock sooner than an in-house hire would be, which means we can build and innovate more quickly.
As two former freelancers turned co-founders, Samantha and I are big fans by default, so it’s extremely gratifying for us to work with other freelancers who we can learn from each day. We built Harlow because we deeply believe that the future of work can and should be freer. We left our full-time jobs years ago seeking more balance, stimulation, and autonomy, and today we’re building a business from the ground up with those values front and center.
We’ve learned that you can prioritize your well-being while also creating a thriving business. Professional success doesn’t have to come at the expense of your mental health or your family.
It’s our vision to help other freelancers claim the lives they want by building businesses that sustain them and fulfill them, rather than depleting them.