Internet has empowered entrepreneurship. Widespread connectivity has aided the formation of a desire among people to become their own boss. More and more people now have the opportunity to live anywhere in the world and yet be a part of the global workforce. A recent survey conducted by Malt, a pan-European organization of freelancers, found that 37% of people chose to become freelancers simply to have the freedom to work from the location of their choice.
Freelancers or remote entrepreneurs are growing at a rapid pace across the globe. India is home to the second largest freelance workforce in the world and as per estimates by experts, the number of freelancers in India could double every five years until 2035. One of the key characteristics of this Indian freelancer community is that around 43% of them are millennials. They are young, passionate about their work, and willing to walk that extra mile to achieve success.
In this article, I will try to explore some of the key tools which can facilitate this global freelancer population to flourish and how the European nation of Estonia is helping the freelancer community with its innovative solutions.
- Coworking space: As the name suggests, a coworking space refers to an office space where multiple organisations work out of a shared area. With the emergence of online jobs, swanky individual offices are no longer a need of the hour. As per data from consultancy firm CBRE, there are over 600 shared workspaces in India with over 1.80 lakh seats across the country. This is perhaps one of the biggest recent innovations necessitated from the need to have an affordable working place. Lift99 is an Estonian coworking hub which has been helping entrepreneurs with affordable cowork space solutions. Estonia is one of most digitally advanced nations in the world with a world-class environment for startups to succeed. Indian entrepreneurs can ride on the digitization wave by applying for Estonia’s Startup Visa and be a part of the coworking hube and startup ecosystem.
- Virtual meetings: Meeting your clients entails a lot of cost especially if that client is located abroad. Such costs can put significant pressure on your business margins. Fast internet connections have come up with an answer to this – virtual meeting conducted through video conferencing. Skype is an Estonian company which has revolutionized the way video conferencing is done in offices. It is one of the most popular video conferencing apps used across the globe which allows entrepreneurs to conduct video meetings with their clients from anywhere in the world. Location is no longer a constraint.
- Seamless money transfer: Cross border businesses often face difficulty in money transfers. Currency conversions, high exchange fees etc. create complexities which many a time prevents remote entrepreneurs from expanding overseas. However, as they say – necessity is the mother of invention – the need to create sustainable environment for startups and freelancers to engage in seamless cross-border business led to the creation of Estonia based money transfer company – Transferwise. It offers you internet based convenient money transfer solutions at negligible to zero fees. It invests a lot on safety and security aspects and on timely delivery.
- Multilingual websites: If a freelancer has to expand his business then he has to seek opportunities in overseas markets. In such a scenario, your website becomes your identity – the face of your company and it is important for that website to speak multiple languages. It is now possible to create such simple websites at minimal cost and hassle using Voog, another Estonian company which is helping thousands of companies across the globe. Beautiful websites which speak foreignese gives a major boost to the prospect of cross-border expansion.
- Time management: Not just in business, time management is the key to success in life. For a freelancer who is working on multiple projects simultaneously, it is very important to keep a track of time as time requirement would be different for each project. Tallinn based Toggl is an online time-tracking application which can come very handy for such gig entrepreneurs. It helps you to keep a track of your projects and offer reporting solutions.
- Business accounting: It is usually a one man show for freelancers. While they are supposed to be the jack of all trades; however, there are few things which serve best if left to the experts. Managing your books of accounts is one such example. Thanks to the online boom, there are multiple online tools available such as Estonian 1Office and Rimuut which are helping small businesses worldwide who face severe time constraint issues owing to multiple projects. While 1Office provides services such as accounting, creating annual report, legal consultation, international tax consultation, VAT registration, etc., Rimuut offers invoicing and payment solutions for freelancers
- e-Residency: Republic of Estonia is the world’s first country to introduce an e-Residency program that offers individual access to a government-issued digital identity, thus enabling the opening of a global European Union (EU) company fully online while working from anywhere in the world.
Location-independent entrepreneurs can run their company remotely from anywhere on Earth and by expanding their market to Europe, they can reap benefits of huge demands from 500 million population of the continent.
By Mr. Alex Wellman, Head of Marketing at e-Residency, Republic of Estonia