Just as computers changed how we work and the emergence of the cloud changed where we work, we’re witnessing new market dynamics that are challenging the traditional norms of the workplace yet again. The rules are being rewritten for the way we build and operate 21st-century businesses.
If I were starting a business in the year 2000, no doubt one of the first things I would be thinking about would be hiring experts to run the core functions of the business – generally sales and marketing, finance and legal, information technology, and human resources. Those employees would, in turn, be tasked with building out their respective teams by hiring more employees. I would be hunting for office space to house this team because they would likely all live in (or move to) close proximity to my business headquarters.
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Knowing that technology can help me do more with less, I would make significant investments to procure technology equipment, data centers, and software, hiring even more people to help manage all of these investments. The net-net is that I need to make significant capital investments, hire a lot of employees, and encumber my business with real estate liabilities to build a company of any significant scale, say, greater than $1M per year in revenue.
One of the underlying results of these old-school practices and constraints is that the best talent in any given industry tends to be concentrated into a smaller number of companies. No matter how skilled you are, the entrepreneurial barrier to scaling your talents into a full-fledged business was daunting and required a massive leap of faith (not to mention access to a lot of money). What we consider “traditional employment” with this smaller number of competing companies was the most attractive (and only realistic) route for most experts.
How might that scenario be different in 2021?
As I type this at my kitchen table, I have all of the tools and support I need to start any variety of businesses instantly available at my fingertips. Think about not only how powerful that is, but how different it is than at the turn of the century. All you need now to start a business is the will and an internet connection. Startups of today can instantly tap into a vast array of technology services to run their businesses, on-demand and without huge capital investments, such as Salesforce, Hubspot, Quickbooks, and Google Apps. This instantly puts them on par with, or even better than, the tech stacks of much larger, established businesses and without huge capital investments.
But the real revolution this has sparked is not just how we access technology – it’s how we access talent.
With just a few more clicks and keystrokes, I can now find and work with experienced professionals across many specialties and engage them on critical business initiatives within days or sometimes even hours. This is a game-changer, as big or bigger than the impacts of the internet or cloud alone.
This ease of “starting up” coupled with the emergence of talent marketplaces has spurred massive talent decentralization. One person providing their skills and expertise on-demand enables another person to provide their skills and expertise on-demand and so on. This trend has been building slowly over the last decade, with smaller businesses tending to be the primary constituents on both sides of each transaction. In 2021 and beyond, no business of any size can afford to ignore the skilled and growing independent workforce.
According to US Census data, new business applications, which have been steadily growing over the past 8 years or so, more than doubled at one point in 2020 from a low of 236k in April to a high of nearly 552k just 3 months later in July. New business applications grew nearly 25%, from 3,504,086 in 2019 to 4,353,288 in 2020, and that growth looks to continue in 2021. It turns out that a global pandemic is what it took to accelerate entrepreneurship.
That trend is especially true when it comes to Salesforce talent.
Over the last 15 years working in the Salesforce consulting ecosystem, the 10K leadership team has helped organizations of all shapes and sizes realize the full potential of the platform to grow their businesses and enhance their relationships with customers. Years ago, we watched as more and more of the most experienced practitioners in the space, including many of our fellow Salesforce MVPs, were choosing to leave traditional employers and strike out on their own. We too felt the pull of working for ourselves, and in 2016 founded 10K as a new type of Salesforce consultancy built to support this growing on-demand workforce and help customers tap into it.
We saw this as a growing trend in the market, but we could not have predicted that a global pandemic would force (almost overnight) a complete shift in the way businesses source and manage their talent needs.
COVID has not only accelerated the rise of remote work but has also forced companies to restructure many of their day to day operations. The makeup of their traditional workforces has shifted due to large-scale layoffs, furloughs, halting work visas, etc. This was just the spur many talented experts needed to hang their shingles.
According to Upwork’s most recent U.S. Independent Workforce report, 59 million Americans are now freelancing (36% of the total workforce) and the number of those doing so full time has increased 8% since 2019. Our research in the Salesforce talent ecosystem shows a similar trend. More than 50% of the independent Salesforce consultants we surveyed said their long-term goal was to grow their own business, and 56% said they were unlikely to return to a full-time position or large consulting firm. This means that in an ecosystem where experienced talent is already hard to hire, it’s getting even harder.
And it’s not just individuals who are embracing this new model. Employers are as well. According to Upwork research, 47% of hiring managers are more likely to hire independent professionals in the future than they were before the crisis. Harnessing the power of disparate, unretained workforces is here to stay.
So how do you make the most out of working with independent consultants?
In our latest On-Demand Salesforce Talent Guide we dive into the benefits of working with an independent workforce, how to identify the right talent, and ways to nurture those relationships once you do identify them. Ultimately, we hope this information will provide you with the guidance and data you need to feel informed and confident in pursuing and achieving a successful partnership that will help you truly make an impact with Salesforce.