Let’s Talk Business: March 11, 2022

COVID had many ripple effects on our economy that we’ll be feeling for a while. One of the most visible is the employee shortage.

Business owners everywhere are asking, “Where have all the workers gone?”

At first, some pundits believed the unemployed were waiting for businesses to reopen, but now that they have, it’s clear there’s still a shortage of workers. What are they doing instead of looking for jobs?

They are joining the gig economy.

According to a new study from Upwork, two million Americans started freelancing in the first year of the pandemic. The study also found that 59 million Americans—about 36% of the total workforce—freelanced in some way over the past 12 months.

Even prior to COVID we were already seeing large increases in the numbers of solo entrepreneurs.

People are realizing they have skills and they no longer need an employer to direct them. Some people want the flexibility to work their own hours, while others simply did not want to return to the office once it reopened.

Whatever the reason they went out on their own, many freelancers—while they have the talents to perform valuable jobs—may not have any idea where to find clients.

That’s where the Chamber comes in. The Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce can be an essential part of freelancers’ success strategy. Chamber membership offers assistance with skills and training; connections and networking for clients; a community; portfolio building; and resources to aid freelancers with portfolio building, social networks and LinkedIn, a business plan, a website, and more.

Most importantly, Chamber membership gives freelancers a champion; somebody who’s in their corner.

Freelancing can be a lonely job, yet freelancers need contacts. The most lucrative way to find work as a freelancer, regardless of industry or skill, is meeting clients face-to-face or online. Chamber networking events are perfect ways to meet members of the local business community for sales or social reasons.

Unless they’ve spent a lot of time researching or have friends or professional acquaintances who are freelancers, those new to the gig economy will likely have a lot of questions. Chamber membership provides essential resources and connections in that critical first year of business ownership. Freelancing can be lonely, too. Chamber membership offers a ready-made “watercooler” experience as well as a sense of business community.

While the flexibility of freelancing is wonderful, many freelancers find they lack an appropriate place for in-person meetings. The Emporia Chamber offers conference rooms for rent and can direct freelancers to co-working spaces and incubators.

Finally, as a Chamber member, freelancers have a champion. While there are a handful of associations that help advocate for freelancers’ needs, they are largely on their own. Advocacy is an ongoing benefit the Chamber offers to our members. And while some businesses are hesitant to hire freelancers, Chamber membership conveys both professionalism and a sense of establishment.

It’s a great day in Emporia!


“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.