A large chunk of the American workforce is made up of contractors. The software company Intuit, which makes software like TurboTax, estimates that more than one-third of the current workforce is made up of independent contractors, and that the number will rise to an astounding 43% by the year 2020.
Contractors are an increasingly important component of the American and world economies.
We’re used to thinking of graphic designers, web designers, and writers working as freelancers, but today’s independent contractors consist of people in just about every profession imaginable. Many small business coaches are in business for themselves, for example, and there are even surgeons who work on a contract basis!
It’s not necessarily an easy way to make a living, but for some people it is ideal. Contractors that take the time to understand the company culture of clients and potential clients are contractors who are likelier to get those plum contracts and likelier to set the stage for future collaborations.
Knowing Your Own “Brand”
The successful contractor, whether they’re a small business coach or a web designer, must understand their own personal “brand.” Naturally, contractors are expected to be flexible and adaptable to many different demands, but they should also have a solid understanding of who they are, what they’re best at, and how they can address their own skills gaps.
When you know who you are, what your values are, and what you have to offer, it’s easier to seek out clients that will be a great fit for your skills and talents. At the same time, being grounded in the personal brand you develop helps you map out ways you can understand and fit into the company culture of the clients that hire you.
Aligning Your Style with Client Company Culture
Bear in mind that sometimes companies hire contractors because they need someone to slip into a role as seamlessly as possible, perhaps because of a regular employee who is on a leave of absence. But other times, companies seek out contractors precisely because they offer an outside perspective – a perspective they know can help them improve their own business.
It’s crucial for the contractor to understand what kind of company culture a client company has: how formal or informal it is, the general makeup of the workforce, and the company’s values and mission. Only then can the contractor understand the best way to provide services in the manner the client company needs.
Get to know client companies better and you can tailor your services more accurately to their needs.
Ways to Learn About Client Company Culture
When you engage in a conversation with a potential client, they’ll usually give you some idea of what their company culture is, and if they don’t you can ask. Be aware, however, that you probably won’t get the whole picture from just one person. Take a proactive approach to learn about a potential client company, and you not only demonstrate genuine interest, you can learn valuable information that can help you provide optimal services.
Some company culture information can be gleaned from the company’s online resources, but bear in mind that the information is likely to be slanted more toward a marketing pitch than toward a description of the actual culture. Ideally, you should talk to people who work there, or who have worked there recently to learn what it’s really like.
Results of Contractors Understanding Company Cultures
When you have a sound knowledge of the company culture of the clients with which you work, you are positioned to bring your unique brand to clients, enriching both parties. Understanding company culture, whether your role is as a small business coach, a graphic designer, or a programmer, helps you tailor your services correctly, so you can produce the results the client wants while building your own reputation.
Contractors are an increasingly important segment of the American workforce, and being one can offer the kind of career you generally can’t get in a traditional employment setting. Make it a point to understand client company culture, and align your goals and services accordingly, and you maximize the potential for a strong and long-lasting professional relationship. Elevate yourself above the competition by striving to better understand your clients, and you can expect a healthier, more productive career as a contractor.