The Future is Freelance: Insights for Founders

Fact: the Gig Economy market is exploding. According to TechReport, “over a third of people working in the United States participate in the Gig Economy.”

What this means is – more than 34% of work arrangements are freelance, flexible, and fractional, and the numbers are increasing steadily. Of all the ‘Future of Work’ trends that founders MUST pay attention to – this is the one that cannot be ignored.

On this episode of the On Work and Revolution Podcast, we have Katelyn Donnelly Managing Partner of Avalanche VC, in the guest chair. No stranger to scaling startups and building teams, Katelyn’s mission today is to invest in massive trends that transform how people learn, earn, and own. She shared many valuable pearls of wisdom for founders navigating the future of work.

1. The Rise of Flexibility in Work Arrangements

Today, flexibility in work arrangements reigns supreme. “I think that humans want agency, and we want to be able to own our destiny. And it’s clear that corporations are likely not the venue in which to do so.”

With a growing pool of exceptional talent, founders are increasingly turning to freelance and fractional work to meet their business needs, leveraging the benefits of on-demand expertise without the constraints of traditional employment models.

2. Leveraging Fractional Leadership

Katelyn advocates for the adoption of fractional leadership models in entrepreneurial ventures. “To do big things in the world, you need to coordinate humans at scale. But there are many mechanisms for doing that, and I think fractional arrangements and outcome-oriented employees are a perfect way of doing it.”

Fractional leadership allows founders to access top-tier talent on a part-time basis, enabling greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Translation: Get great talent without committing to employ someone who generally comes with a pricey salary tag full-time. This approach empowers founders to scale their organizations strategically while optimizing resource allocation.

In practice, when Katelyn was building Delivery Associates, a remote-first professional services firm with people on every continent except Antarctica, “at least 40% of our employees were fractional or flexible. And we got tremendous value out of that.”

3. Build an Agile Organization

One of the greatest features of fractional hiring is leveraging it as a strategic resource. Freelance and flexible work arrangements enable founders to pivot quickly in response to changing market conditions, minimizing risk and maximizing opportunity.

“We don’t have a lot of luxury of time sitting around and getting things all nice, pretty, and tied with a bow before we have to get into the weeds and into the actual work. We need to move a lot quicker. Where I see fractional execution playing a big part is – senior people with high-level skills who can cut to the chase. People who have the experience and who can get into the weeds right now. Founders who can learn to work with people like that as part of their leadership teams are accelerating their growth really well.”

Look, driving this sub-context of this conversation, I asked Katelyn what motivates her and her team to invest. She said, “First, we look at the founder and the founding team.” Investors and venture firms want their founders to embody what they’re building as their life’s work. And when it comes to expanding their teams? The same amount of rigor and intentionality needs to be applied. No more “My friend Steve can plug a few marketing funnels” business. 🤣

As founders continue to plan for the future, embracing the freelance revolution will be key to sustainable growth and innovation. As we embrace freelance work arrangements and leverage fractional leadership, there are many opportunities to be had. As the old adage goes, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

🎧👉 To tune in to the episode or read the show notes, head here.

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