Should You Work for Equity as a Freelancer?

Have you heard about the Graffiti Artist David Choe? In 2005, he painted a Facebook office for shares in the company instead of cash. He made over $200 million with this deal.

Would you agree to a deal like that? Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

But let me tell you about my experience. It was pure luck that things worked out as well as they did for David. I estimate that 99% of people who work for equity don’t ever get paid, and definitely not 200 million dollars! That’s what makes this story so unique. It usually doesn’t happen.

Has someone ever asked you to work for equity or a share of the profit? I have been asked this a lot over the years. I did it several times, but only for very promising projects. Guess how many failed? Exactly 100%.

If you like the gamble and can afford to lose, there’s nothing wrong with considering an equity deal. But, I recommend staying away from these types of projects, if it’s about the money for you.

I understand people who bet for sports games to make them more interesting and exiting. I will never understand the people who think lottery is an investment. Yes, they might win and all their financial needs are taken care of but that won’t happen, statistically.

Your time is too valuable to invest in a gamble. If a company is not willing to invest real money, chances are they will not be very successful and you’re just wasting your time. If you do it to learn something new and be part of an exiting project, go ahead, but don’t expect to become rich.

If you’re not feeling satisfied with your current work, do something just for you, like a fun side project. That’s much more fulfilling.

About the author

Jonas accidentally started his freelance career at 12 years old when his neighbour hired him to build a website. Two decades later, he has worked at many agencies, cofounded a startup, continued working as freelancer and builds ValueTime to help freelancers understand their business numbers.

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