I am a freelancer, but I am not an Uber driver (nor a Deliveroo delivery man)!
“And then, will you go back to a normal job?”
Last month we spent the day (and the evening!) With 200 of our students, who came from all over France for our first physical conference, called Le Live.
Among the project leaders gathered in this small theater in the 11th arrondissement, one category stood out in particular. Hung on their chests enthroned the badges “freelance”, or even “independent”.
They had come here to expand their network and form useful partnerships.
Some were formerly employees, reconverted for some time. As Laura Ciriani, today independent consultant for the liberal professions.
Others had chosen this runway for their entry into working life.
And above all, everyone was beaming. It seemed clear that they had chosen this path by choice, by taste.
The road had certainly reserved some surprises for them – starting with the discovery of the RSI and the delights of French accounting – but no regrets.
Except, for some perhaps, that of not having started earlier.
We said to ourselves that there was something great there, and something very curious too.
We talk a lot – and it is not enough to say it – about entrepreneurship, until it is set up as a religion of the 21st century.
We are not talking about freelancers. We are not talking about the independents.
When we talk about it, it is – too – often to talk about RSI and precariousness.
We sometimes have the impression that being independent in France today is necessarily Uber driver. It is necessarily to be a Deliveroo courier.
Except that it is often quite the opposite.
The majority of independents – and fortunately – do not live under the yoke of an overpowered platform that can increase your commission overnight resulting in a loss of income of 30 to 40%.
They do not suffer from an unbalanced relationship and are free to set their own rules of the game.
They choose their prices, and the vast majority of them choose their customers.
They have opted for this way of life by choice, very rarely by default, because they do not or no longer recognize themselves in salaried work.
And yet, we do not understand them.
Their entourage, worried, floods them with questions.
The studies group them together under the name “precarious”, in curious statistical categories where the self-employed and employees coexist forced to chain fixed-term contracts.
Another student, Sandrine, a freelance jeweler, told us: “My time as an independent has always been seen as a professional regression by my relatives. Whereas I have personally always experienced it as an ascent ”.
Many freelancers also describe having trouble being taken seriously by those around them. They thus describe a tendency of funds to want to reduce this new project, to make it only one step.
“People always ask me if I have a plan B in mind”, “if I intend to find a job then”, “if I am looking for a job next to my activity”, Guillaume, Tatiana and Joseph declared in unison.
As if we were unable to distinguish between the precariousness suffered and the flexibility chosen.
As if we refused to tolerate that a certain vision of freedom justified taking a certain risk?
And then, what risk are we talking about? Is he really still as important as we think?
Yéza, freelance for 1 year, responds to this objection in this tercet of a new kind on his Medium:
“If you hesitate to get started, prepare your project upstream.
If you’re reluctant to take the plunge, I believe luck rewards those who take risks.
If you’re hesitant to go ahead, think about one thing: what’s the worst thing that can happen to you? ”
Everything happens as if we recognized the weaknesses of a certain form of wage labor (burnout, bore out and other collateral damage), but that we refused to see some shatter it?
As if we also refused to see the future, wanting to make the phenomenon more marginal than it is.
We like to make it a temporary phenomenon (“but then, do you go back to a job afterwards?”), To think that freelancing concerns only a handful of people and is limited to a few professions (“but if I am not graphic designer, does that not apply? ”).
While the revolution has already started – and it is massive.
In the United States, 94% of job creations between 2010 and 2015 are linked to alternative forms of contracts. If 94% is marginal, I must review my definition of percentages as soon as possible.
And note that the study specifies that platform workers do not concern more than 0.5%. Let’s face it: being a freelancer is definitely not being an Uber driver.
Some see it as the warning signs of a dangerous deconstruction of the wage system, a source of emotional precariousness and stress.
The reality is surprisingly far removed from the epinal image of the self-employed worker that we are striving to forge. They are often described as steeped in anguish, living with the sword of Damocles standing in arrears.
In a note on the impact of the type of contract on well-being at work, Baggio and Sutter have shown that atypical employment is not necessarily synonymous with increased ill-being. Quite the contrary.
To the cardinal question of stress, freelancers stand out as the least exposed, ahead of employees on CDD and CDI. The authors hypothesize that the autonomy and the absence of hierarchy induced by the independent status thus supplant its “precariousness”, giving rise to a population more serene than it seems.
Even more strikingly, freelancers have the highest rate of involvement in their work, surpassing the permanent contracts of the sample studied. As if it was finally them, the model employees: the world upside down!
“Aren’t you sick of being all alone?”
Freelance status is very often seen as lonely, isolated.
It is not knowing the reality of the daily life of freelancers. To succeed, to know and secure the most beautiful missions, they must, on the contrary, act collectively.
They need to develop a network – of peers as well as of complementary profiles – which will enable them to increase their skills, collaborate and respond to calls for tenders where several skills are required.
A good freelance works in groups, and it is no coincidence that the Deliveroo couriers are now setting up groups to fight against the rise in commissions.
Fortunately, the vast majority of freelancers don’t work at Uber or Deliveroo. They can freely evaluate their prices. This does not mean that the exercise is easy, however .. But it deserves another article!
Alexandre dana is the co-founder and Director of LiveMentor, the live and online school for entrepreneurs, freelancers and independents.
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