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5 Common Free Agent Myths

Free Agent Nation Copyright 2002 By Paul Bednar

There are numerous myths about free agents. On the surface, they appear not to be myths but facts. However, get below the surface and these misconceptions quickly crumble. This article will not attempt to debunk all the myths, just five widespread ones.

Myth 1: Working for a company is more financially secure than being a free agent

This myth is based on the premise that a company provides security to its employees via consistent paychecks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ask any person who has lost their job in the current economic climate if working for a company provides financial security.

While it is true that free agent income can sometimes be inconsistent, a free agent is able to work for multiple clients simultaneously.

For example, Sally Free Agent is a web developer and currently has 3 clients. Joe Smith, corporate accountant, works for a Fortune 500 company.

The current economic conditions impacted Sally last month and one of her clients had to abandon their project. While this was not good news for Sally, she still receives income from her 2 remaining clients.

Yesterday, Joe found out his company posted disappointing quarterly earnings and a layoff was necessary to improve the company's balance sheet.

Now, let's see who has more financial security. Is it Sally, who recently lost a client and still has 2 different income sources? Is it Joe, who lost his only income source?

A free agent that has a diverse client base is always more financially secure than an employee who only works for one company.

Myth 2: When you are your own boss, every day is a party

Employees in corporations believe that free agents have a relaxed work ethic. They envision getting out of bed by 9:00AM, eating lunch by 2:00PM and then heading to the golf course or spa for the afternoon. The myth continues the following day as free agents get up and do it all over again.

The reality is quite the opposite. Free agents typically work more hours and have more responsibility than their employee counterparts. Why? Doing the "work" the employee does is only one task for a free agent. Other items such as marketing one's services, tracking expenses, and networking are a few of the additional daily responsibilities incurred by free agents.

Myth 3: Free agents are immune from corporate politics

This myth implies free agents are protected from corporate politics because they are not employees of their clients.

Actually, free agents are very in tune to corporate politics. Since each client has their own different political nuances, free agents are involved with multiple political environments.

Sometimes free agents are brought in as an objective third party to settle a political dispute. Another example is if the client's representative that hired the free agent leaves or is reassigned during the project. These situations require free agents to be very adept at navigating through different political environments and circumstances.

One positive aspect is free agents do not have to deal with a client's politics beyond the project's term.

Corporate politics is a reality whether you are an employee or a free agent.

Myth 4: All I have to do to succeed as a free agent is just print some business cards

Any person contemplating free agency that believes the above statement will be an employee in the very near future. Becoming a free agent is relatively easy compared to starting a manufacturing company or most companies from scratch. However, the disparity ends there.

The pitfalls to free agency are similar to any business: market yourself to get clients, produce a quality product for a reasonable price and make a decent profit. Another caveat to consider is that most companies usually begin with more than one person. Free agents typically work alone and do all the work, even the coffee making and photocopying.

Myth 5: Free agents charge too much money

When employees inevitably find out the amount of money a free agent receives for a particular project, the typical response is one of jealously, "Why did that free agent get paid so much? I could have performed that project for less money."

Employees have to remember that a free agent is entirely responsible for their own benefits and expenses. A small sample of these issues include taxes, retirement, health insurance, professional development, office space, vacation, and sick days. In addition, work (your income) is not guaranteed for 52 weeks a year like an employee.

Benefits and expenses cost an employer a lot of money. Estimates fluctuate between 100% - 300% of an employee's salary.

In order to earn the financial equivalent of a particularFree Agent Nation employee's salary, a free agent generally needs to have revenues of at least twice that employee's salary.

Paul Bednar helps people cut the corporate chains and become a free agent or consultant. Visit his web site and subscribe to the free newsletter at http://www.free-agent-information.com.
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