#BetterTogetherDenver — A vision of an awesome future for independent workers in Denve
Hi 👋 I’m Drew Hornbein. This is the part where I’m supposed to introduce myself in a succinct way that will let you know I’m a trustworthy source of information and that you should probably keep reading. Really I’m just a 30 something who never got the memo to stop naively believing that people are basically good and when they work together can do great things. I’ve been a rabble-rouser most of my life but more importantly for the purpose of this article I’ve been an independent worker for over 15 years and failed a lot along the way. Which means I have experience and probably learned a thing or two.
I want to talk to you about being an independent worker, chances are you’re an independent worker or freelancer or “solopreneur” or gig worker or happen to file a 1099 because you sometimes drive strangers around in your car. Nearly 60 million Americans are independent workers like us and that number is only going up. People (who are smart and probably cite their sources) predict that freelancers will make up the majority of the workforce in the near future.
It’s no wonder, right? Being a freelancer is awesome. Being your own boss, having choice, forging your own path, the variety of work, freedom to travel, not having to wear pants at the office…
It also, in many ways, sucks. You are the boss, accountant, manager, and intern all at the same time, it’s lonesome and often you’re stuck at home wishing someone could just tell you that your work is good and that this impending sense of doom and doubt is just the deranged fantasy of someone who hasn’t gotten enough sleep. Finding work can be such a challenge, networking is draining, and with no one to tell you what to do it can feel listless.
Sometimes the monotony of a full-time job with — gasp — benefits, and stability sounds so darn appealing. Before you send that resume off to monster.com (I haven’t done this in a while obviously) I want to share a vision with you.
You wake up at a comfortable time, a time that works for you. Fully rested you pop over to the local gym and attend a movement class to get you ready for the day, the class is already paid for but you leave the instructor a generous tip. Over at your co-working space breakfast is waiting in the kitchen, some eggs and greens (or whatever you love) from that little farm attached to the school down the road. With a full belly and a cup of really good coffee, you sit down at your desk, across from people you know and admire. As you go through emails you see that the invoice you submitted yesterday has been paid into your bank account. A few potential gigs have been sent your way and you got some feedback on your latest work from your mastermind group. There is a skill development class today in about 30 minutes, looks interesting, you decide to go. You leave your things safely at your desk and hop on one of the many shared bikes to make your way over to another co-working space where the event is held. After an informative event lunch is served, more nutritious local food as usual. You work for the rest of the day, ending at a reasonable hour. With healthcare covered, savings in the bank, and a steady stream of engaging work coming your way working into the evening is a distant memory. The remainder of the day is yours.
Take a moment and imagine your perfect day, what else is there? What stress has been removed? What joy has been added? Where are you? What does it feel like?
You and thousands of other freelancers, gig workers, 1099ers, solopreneurs have made this dream a reality. You worked hard, sat through meetings, poured over legal documents, worked with city, state, and federal government bureaucracies, you made life long friends and forged a union with people that have borne these fruits.
No longer do you worry about when your invoices will be paid, the association covers that (and deals with clients who don’t pay). You have affordable healthcare because you’ve pooled your buying power (and leveraged your political power). Memberships to co-working spaces, yoga studios, childcare, spas, and farm shares are all made affordable and easy through the association.
It came from humble beginnings which I believe have already begun.
In summer 2018 myself and a couple friends (Katie and Paul) hosted an event called Better Together: How Freelancers Can Win at Denver Startup Week. Over 125 people attended and began to shed light on what workers in Denver want and need.
We held two more events in 2018 with the intention to build community and feel into what we could organize and provide for the community.
What I see now is a great opportunity in the growing freelancer community for us to come together and make immediate impactful change in our lives to bring us towards the vision above.
In 2019 I believe that we can build an association of workers whose purpose is to improve the quality of life for independent workers and their communities. If anyone is going to be able to pull this off it’s you, the independent worker. If we work together we can get better benefits, we can find and share gigs, we can support each other by coming together and sharing our wisdom, skills, and talents.
Does that sound like something you want to be a part of? Come to our next event and let’s start working on making your vision of the most perfect freelancer lifestyle a reality.
We host events where you can come as you are, meet people, network and share your experiences as a freelancer.
I believe that making our situation as freelancers better will be a whole lot of fun. Running these events over the past few months have been a blast and If you’ll allow me to gloat just a little bit people have told me that these events have indeed been fun (take that self-doubt!). It’s been such a treat meeting the freelancer community in Denver learning about their struggles and seeing their strength, wit, and resolve. It is these people — you — who inspire me to co-creating these events and writing blog posts that feel really vulnerable and scary.
Freelancing is the new normal. We are the next economy and I believe that together we can build a solidarity network which provides security, prosperity, purpose, and an outstanding quality of life for all.