James Sandoval
14 January 2019
3 minute read

The freelance side hustle is dead. Long live the independent consultant.

I’ve been wrestling with a tough decision, a choice, a challenge from the very first day I dreamt up the idea to create the MeasureMatch professional services marketplace (back in Spring 2016).

It’s this: should we welcome into our network of service providers a potentially large volume of highly skilled and superbly capable people…who are in full time jobs. Folks who want to make a little extra cash on the side. Folks who want to explore what it’s like to be independent. Folks who are not independent consultants.

Note: Our global network of service providers is made up of highly skilled independent consultants and equally experienced specialist consultancies & agencies.

The answer for us here at MeasureMatch HQ is no.

Full-timers are not a good fit for MeasureMatch.

And, generally, they’re also not right for the kinds of clients we’re attracting to use our platform to source amazing pros to execute software systems deployments, implementations, configurations, integrations, troubleshooting and related data management, data engineering and data science work.

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Now, despite recent gyrations in our consideration of FTEs, perhaps especially because we’ve found that most, if not all, other service marketplaces’ networks are heavily populated with FTEs pursuing side hustles, we recently doubled down with the conclusion that full-timers are, indeed, suboptimal for the business we’re building.

Here’s why.

Risk.

The kinds of projects and contracts that flow via the MeasureMatch marketplace require focus. They require substantive time commitments. They require a level of delivery that simply can’t, in many if not most cases, happen when the service provider only has a small number of weekday hours "after work” and maybe "some weekend time" to play with.

This is too risky for us. And if it’s too risky for us, it’s too risky for MeasureMatch clients.

I’ve been told several times that “market forces” or “AI” will weed out poor performers or unattractive profiles. We’re not buying this argument. A free-for-all onboarding of service providers may create an attractive number for investors, but the inevitable and costly clean-ups due to mismatches and failed project deliveries, well, we’re not interested.

Independent Contractors vs Freelancers

Is there a difference between independent contractors and freelancers? It depends on who you ask, but we’re drawing a bright red line between the two. Although freelancers are, in fact, also independent contractors, we’re taking the position, using language that aligns MeasureMatch service providers are the latter – they are independent contractors [including independent consultants & consultancies].

It’s a tough call, especially because of the organic search implications. “Freelance”, “Freelancer”, “Freelancing” and related derivatives are heavily searched, more than the language we’ve chosen to align with.

Also, while rather unfortunate, the term freelancing is too commonly understood as low cost, low value, high risk, high friction side hustling or gig economy-esque work.

With MeasureMatch contract values coming in between $5,000 and $50,000, with six figure contracts on the horizon, and seven figure contracts inevitable, we’re highly motivated to use language that steers clear of potentially degrading, if not damaging, of the value of the most important part of our marketplace, the independent consultants and consultancies who take on enormous risks to live and work differently, flexibly, in a more rewarding way for themselves and their families.

Structure and confidence

The platform we’re developing enables a kind of regulatory framework to evolve. A framework, a structure to win the confidence of clients by ensuring service providers are qualified, certified, legitimate.

We see our role as primarily to maximise client/service provider relationship development and professional value exchange through highly selective data collection (e.g. profile skills & experience), data provision (e.g. communications and contract management) and transparency (ratings & reviews), so all sides (including us) benefit for the longer term via each engagement and transaction.

And all of that starts with the language we choose to describe the business we’re building, and especially the people who possess the skills and the passion to do the necessary work.

Wrapping up

The side hustle is an important, evolving and growing component of global economies. For those workers who are successfully juggling FTE commitments and side gigs, bravo. More power to you.

When those folks are ready to make the leap into the world of independent consulting or entrepreneurial endeavours with a friend or three to form an agency or consultancy, do consider pursuing revenue opportunities via marketplaces like MeasureMatch. We’d love to be helpful.

Photo credit: Anthony Young on Unsplash

James Sandoval

Founder & CEO of MeasureMatch

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