Most of the marketing and PR professionals I know around here work for themselves or for small firms. The advantages are many, as these businesses can adapt quickly, don’t have to worry too much about their image being ruined by a maverick employee and often are more happy with their jobs because they simply don’t work with or hire people they don’t like.
But the disadvantages are many. These small companies can’t usually compete for large contracts that requires teams of workers – no matter how great their freelancer stable may be – and often have a harder time gaining any sort of recognition for their work in industry related award shows or functions.
Most freelancers and small companies would tell you the disadvantages really don’t matter. They live comfortably, work with clients they like and get to create campaigns they actually believe in. They become specialized, and are often hired for their specific talents. In this social, intimate, and very customized industry we all now work in, what happens when the individual skills of the small business just CAN’T be taught to someone else?
How do you teach someone to lobby like Jason Rose? Write speeches like David Leibowitz? Work in but not directly for a company like Kathy Sacks? I’m not sure the answer is more training, more sharing or more collaboration, as some talents and skills just can’t be taught. Jerry Maguire told us years ago that the answer was fewer clients and less money.
I’m not sure if I want to believe Jerry Maguire. No one wants to take less money, and it’s fun to have lots of varied clients. It gives each of us a chance to showcase what we can do and every once in a while, break through with something really fun.
But Jerry Maguire knew his personalized approach COULDN’T scale. It was impossible. While it certainly worked out for him (yes, I know it’s a movie, but suspend some disbelief here), is this approach to business really what more people should expect in the future?
As someone who is usually hired for my specific take on issues (yeah, it does happen), I’m always curious as to how other freelancers or small companies plan on continuing to offer their niche service without compromising the very reputation on which they were hired.