Most freelancers and independent contractors in the professional world make a living by offering services to their corporate clients. Some of these services have been around practically forever, while others are just starting to emerge, but the demand for these services is always shifting as the business world evolves and corporations discover different needs.
Keeping up with these services, and rebalancing your offerings accordingly, can make you more competitive or even more effective in your work.
Regardless of whether you’re working with small businesses or big corporations, most businesses need to rely on the same lineup of professional services. The difference is, according to Consultants 500, that small businesses tend to seek generalists in their areas of expertise, while bigger companies (with intricate internal departments) are more after niche specialists.
So what are currently the most in-demand professional services a self-employed contractor could offer?
1. Accounting and tax advice.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for accounting is going to grow at a rate of 11 percent, faster than average, through 2024. Businesses need to keep track of their income and spending habits, and only trained professionals will be able to do the job successfully. There’s no danger of this requirement going obsolete anytime soon, so anyone with accounting and tax experience should enjoy a robust selection of clientele in the years to come.
Consulting is a catch-all category that relates to many different fields, but it’s always in high demand. Some companies need an expert to help them figure out the missing piece to a puzzle, to train their staff to be more effective, or provide feedback and direction in general. Because the applications are so potentially broad, consulting remains a sought-after professional service.
As Nolo points out, it’s possible and efficient to do some legal work on your own—such as researching trademarks or starting a small business—but for most big-ticket items and any serious legal problem, a company needs to hire a legal professional. Managing big institutions with complex financial structures will always yield serious legal issues, so there will always need to be lawyers and legal consultants to fill the void.
Marketing is the most efficient way to increase sales and customer loyalty for any business, and most big businesses have their own dedicated marketing departments. However, there will always be niche applications that internal employees can’t tackle on their own. According to Gartner, marketing budgets are increasing across the board, which means it’s a good time to get into the marketing and advertising game.
5. Web and app design.
It’s almost impossible to reach your audience effectively without some kind of online strategy. Web design, app design, and development are important institutions for any business. Companies are often willing to pay top dollar to ensure they look better than their competition and remain visible and accessible to the public.
Without talented employees and leadership, even businesses with strong ideas and a long history can fail. That’s why recruiting services remain in such high demand—especially in an era where social media and professional networking have become so common. Companies need a professional to step in and do the job right.
7. Writing and translating.
According to the Instituto Cervantes, the United States now has more Spanish-speaking residents than Spain. Hundreds of languages are spoken in this country alone, and to reach those audiences, companies are in dire need of effective, experienced translators. In a related field, companies are also in demand of writers, who can help them improve communications with audiences.
Balancing Practicality and Demand
Ideally, you’d be able to offer all the most heavily demanded services in the professional world; high demand means you’ll have more prospective customers knocking on your door, and they’ll be willing to pay more to get those services. So what’s the catch?
Obviously, you can’t offer a service that you aren’t familiar with, and hiring someone else as a subcontractor or partner could eat into your bottom line. The key here is to find a balance between services like the ones above, with the heaviest demand, and ones that you can offer feasibly. Fortunately, there are several methods that allow you to acquire these offerings:
- Training and education. You could learn from an experienced mentor or start taking classes to round out your own skills.
- Partnerships and referrals. Alternatively, you could work together with other contractors, or refer new customers to them for a percentage of the final sale.
- Sub-contracting. You could also take on the work yourself, subcontracting to others in your network.
However you choose to adjust your business, making yourself more desired is almost always a good investment. You’ll become more profitable, busier, and even more sustainable in the process.