Don’t Let This Hidden Challenge Derail Your Business

Many people brace themselves for the dreaded “plateau” in their fitness programs–and devote a lot of effort to jumpstarting their progress if it slows.

New research suggests that solo entrepreneurs may want to think the same way about their business growth. Otherwise, their sales may flatline after their fifth year in business.

Nation1099’s new Career Freelancer Status Report found that freelancers earn the income comparable to peers in traditional jobs–but once they hit five years of experience, their income growth begins to slow. Nation1099 is a site that provides career and business advice for experienced freelancers and consultants.

The average income for active, full-time freelancers with 3-10 years of experience was $70,536, according to the research. Freelancers in the survey with 10 or more years of experience brought in $91,756. For context, the median U.S. household income is $59,039.

Given the tendency for income to level off, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that gaining clients is the biggest concern that freelancers voiced in the survey, followed by scaling their business to the next level. Many find information about business development for ultra-lean businesses is scant.

“There is almost no literature or business advice for solopreneurs,” said Robert McGuire, founder of Nation1099.  “What is out it is very elementary.”


McGuire sees a need for courses and business advice for experienced freelancers who are looking to learn about more advanced topics such as automating ad buying on Facebook and Google Adwords and learning how to work with an outsourced salesperson.

“Whoever your target client is, it would help if you had resources to market to those target clients,” says McGuire.

Although many freelancers surveyed look online for information to grow their businesses, they find that online job boards and gig-matching websites lack the right opportunities for someone with their level of experience.

In response to an open-ended question on freelance marketplaces, many freelancers expressed frustration because of low rates, the quality of the job inventory and a desire for job boards specialized by profession.


Among their comments:

“I no longer use job boards; the work is pretty low paying.”

“I got early gigs off job boards, but haven’t seen any that would pay what I need to be paid today.”

“Often you can find yourself in a situation where you are fighting to get paid after completion of the job.”

That could provide an opportunity for growth in the competitive world of freelance marketplaces.

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