The shackles of traditional employment may have been a factor when you decided to become a self-employed freelancer. Of course, you have the freedom to do it your way. On the other hand, you have to do it all yourself. I’m here to tell you there is a third way: The Worker Cooperative.
Worker Cooperatives are companies that are 100% owned and controlled by the people who work there. All the earnings are paid to the participants who also make all the decisions collectively. In other words, they are both owners and employees at the same time; the best of both worlds.
Compete With Each Other Instead of Against Each Other
As a freelancer, you most likely spend some time trying to drum up new business and to set yourself apart from the other guy down the street. And so does he, by the way. This is time neither one of you can bill to anyone. Would it be terrible if only one of you did that and you shared the work? How about joining with five or six others and hire someone who actually knows how to do it so you can concentrate on what you do best?
Look More Professional
Not only will you probably do more of what you enjoy most, you will also look more like a professional. You can still give the personal attention your customers are used to, but your credibility to those who do not know you so well will get a dramatic boost being part of larger organization.
Take on Larger More Complex Projects
Working alone, a large project might feel as constraining as a regular job. Share it with some others. It will be finished sooner and will most likely be better.
Someone to Back You Up
What if you get sick or want to take a vacation? Some things can simply be put on hold. Others may need immediate attention. When working with others, help may be just a phone call away. The client will still be served without first having to go through the process of hiring another provider. It also works the other way and you will have instant credibility.
Access Complementary Skills
As a freelancer, you are probably a specialist in what you do. What if the client’s needs are slightly beyond what you can do alone? Working in a team, chances are that you would still be able to do the job and possibly learn something new in the process.
Do you know how much of your time and money goes into running your business, drumming up business, invoicing, collection, taxes, etc.?
Working with others, you can inexpensively have your calls professionally answered by a receptionist, have your bookkeeping done professionally, share a secretary, own a professional level printer, Internet access, etc.
Teamwork Makes Better Solutions
Research has demonstrated that groups who collaborate come up with better solutions than people working individually in competition with each other.
You might think that working cooperatively could be as constraining as a regular job. It could be if that is what you want, but not necessarily. The beauty of cooperatives is that you get to design it exactly the way you want it as long as you can agree with your fellow cooperators. Even a very loose or informal association can provide some of the benefits I have talked about here.