A report in October from The Freelancers Union and Upwork showed that 54 million people in the U.S. are freelancing, and 60 percent of them are doing so by choice. That's nearly a third of the 157 million people working in the U.S.
Denver's Canopy Advisory Group is focused on the higher end of freelancers and helps connect 'highlancers' -- professionals who still want challenging work but might be single mothers or Baby Boomers who still want to work but not full-time.
Canopy's highlancers are professionals who have had 10 or more years at big firms. They are professionals that made careers in marketing, non-profits, strategy, law and finance. "Many of them feel that their experience in the corporate world has left them disillusioned and dissatisfied," says Brooke Borgen, who founded the company with Griffen O'Shaughnessy in 2009. " Acting as independent consultants, highlancers have ownership over their careers. This particular aspect is appealing to high-achievers who crave challenging assignments and meaningful work, as well as flexibility and freedom to balance family life and personal interests."
"Canopy has about 40 highlancing consultants in its current portfolio and continues to selectively bring on new talent as opportunities arise," Borgen says. "We have specifically chosen to be a boutique firm that thoroughly vets new members and knows each consultant personally, rather than becoming a giant database of names and skills." The company has expanded out of Denver and into Seattle and plans to have an active group of 15 to 20 consultants there by the end of next year.
The company creates access to these freelancers as consultants and serves as an advocate for them. "Our consultants earn a higher hourly take-home rate through Canopy than they did through their previous full-time jobs because of Canopy's low overhead," Borgen says. She adds that their pay rate is between $75 and $175 an hour based on the project and client.
Borgen and O'Shaughnessy say they spend a lot of time in coffee shops with business and nonprofit leaders to understand their needs and see how Canopy's consultants can meet them. The company also encourages its consultants to do engage in business development and they receive a bonus for bringing new clients into its portfolio, which is helping it grow its network of clients and consultants.
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