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The Outsiders

The number of free agents has grown, but is a backlash looming?

This story appears in the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Last winter, Tarek Kamil, CEO and founder of Cincinnati tech company Incigna Inc., had a highly specialized project none of his 10 employees could handle. His solution? Outsource the work to a free agent. "I use them on client projects where I don't have enough resources," says 32-year-old Kamil, whose company brings in about $1 million annually. "They're a piece of the puzzle. I wouldn't be as successful without them."

Maybe so, but is an employer backlash looming against the "free agent nation"? Workplace consultant John Izzo, co-author of Values Shift: The New Work Ethic & What It Means for Business (Fairwinds Press), sees resentment of freelancers as employers fight to hang on to their full-time employees in a tight labor market. While many employers realize they need to outsource certain aspects of their businesses to be cost-effective, they now want to create loyal stakeholders in their businesses. "There's an acceptance that free agents are part of the landscape," says Izzo, "but there's [also] a trend toward wanting people who have a financial and personal stake in the company."

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