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27 min read Author: Arjun

How Freelance CTOs Stay Ahead Of The Curve

Discover how freelance CTOs continuously adapt and stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving tech industry by leveraging key strategies such as networking, upskilling, and more.

Embracing Change: Top Strategies for Freelance CTOs to Stay Ahead of the Curve

At the core of human nature lies an insatiable drive for exploration, a force that compels us to push the boundaries of knowledge and blaze new trails of innovation. For freelance CTOs, this pursuit is equally essential. They must be acutely aware that the lightning-fast pace of technological advancements presents a constant threat - and to overcome the horde of challenges to thrive, CTOs who want a piece of the gig economy must be agile, adaptable, and forward-thinking. 

No ifs, or buts about it, one thing is undeniable amidst this new normal:

In this high-stakes game, it's a race to stay ahead of the curve, outmaneuver competitors, and seize growth opportunities.

If you're a company looking to hire a freelance CTO who can keep up with these rapid advancements, it's essential to explore profiles that exhibit the tenacity and adaptability needed to navigate this dynamic environment.

The question is, will you rise to the challenge and push the boundaries of what's possible, or be left behind in the wake of technological progress?

There is a lot to unpack to get CTOs ahead in the freelance economy. Let’s dive into it!

Embrace The Challenge

As you might have guessed, freelancing is a tough prospect - add to the mix, as a freelance CTOs you will constantly face new and complex challenges you must tackle head-on. But here's the kicker:

Be ready to accept that you're not the smartest in all situations. The key is to embrace these challenges with an open mind and view them as opportunities for growth and innovation. So, be ready to step out of your comfort zone if you must keep your competitive edge razor-sharp.

Discover Your Strengths And Conquer Your Weaknesses

Albert Einstein once said, “When you stop learning you start dying.”

Despite what you think you know, have it at the back of your mind you can do better. So what should a freelance CTo do to improve their knowledge for less effort and time? Conduct a “skills gap assessment.” In simple terms, test what you know using an online tool like this one here. It will help you identify areas where you excel and this can just be the confidence boost you need to add the most value to your clients. At the same time, it will help you identify areas where you need to improve and make a plan to address them. 

In the end, it makes sense for a freelance CTO who wants to command above-market rates to upskill, seek mentorship, or hire a coach. 

Word of advice: Rather than view your weaknesses as a liability, consider them as opportunities for growth. Commit to self-improvement, and with consistency, you will stack the odds in your favor to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of tech with greater ease.

Be Quick On Your Feet - Pivot With Purpose

The next few sentences might change your career forever. So, take heed of this advice:

There's a fine line between heroic persistence and foolish stubbornness. Sometimes the best kind of grit is gritting our teeth and turning around” - Adam Grant.

It's important to know when to keep going and when to try something new. 

What you should do next is not entirely groundbreaking:

Keep a pulse on industry trends, economic changes, customer needs, emerging technologies, and even politics. Trendspotting would allow CTOs to “assemble a big picture of trends that will impact technology strategic decisions” according to Samantha Searle, the director analyst at Gartner.  Don't stop there: 

When you identify a new opportunity, be prepared to pivot your strategy and adapt your business model as needed.

For example, AI and specifically, ChatGPT is all the hype lately. There's no shame in hopping on the bandwagon if you spot an opportunity there that aligns with your skillset.

Warning! The ability to pivot is not solely about being reactive - some trends you would have to ignore. To truly stay ahead of the curve, the freelance CTO should be proactive and weigh the pros and cons of their decision.

Buck Convention To Create The Future

Freelance CTOs be aware: the typical human tendency to stick to the status quo can be a hindrance to progress and innovation. For many CTOs, the temptation is to dwell on legacy systems for too long thinking that's the best approach to save cost and time. As for you…

Don't be afraid to rock the boat.

Take a cue from Google's playbook and achieve similar success. Contrary to conventional business wisdom, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page encouraged employees, “in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google.” The outcome: “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances like AdSense and Google News have happened in this manner.

Here's your plan of action: Take risks and try new things. This may involve experimenting with new technologies, testing new business models, or exploring new markets. 

Got any idea burning a hole in your head but are afraid of being dismissed as “dumb?” You might just be up to something - but you may not find out if you don't dare to be different.

Tap Into The Goldmine Of University Intellectual Property (UIP)

As centers of research and academic exploration, “universities are hotbeds of innovative technologies and new knowledge.” 

The Oxford university explains the concept of UIP:

“Intellectual property (IP) is ideas, information, and knowledge. In the University context, IP can be viewed as the results and outcomes of research – 'intellectual' because it is creative output and 'property' because it is viewed as a tradable commodity.”

To draw from the wealth of UIP, CTOs can:

  • Attend university innovation events and conferences.
  • Join university innovation networks and programs.
  • Work with university incubators and accelerators.
  • Engage with university research and development teams.

By fishing in UIP waters, freelance CTOs can beat their colleagues to cutting-edge research, technology, and expertise they can add to their game. Admittedly this is by no means a straight path, but yet, it is something to keep in mind.

Size Matters: Learn To Scale Like A Pro

Growth means everything in this line of work. More so for your clients:

Every business wants to grow. For many companies, that is their defining mission.” - Nasdaq.

Invariably, you'll be shooting yourself in the foot if you don't know how to meet this need. To better understand what is expected of you, let's turn to Harvard Business Review for help:

Growth means adding revenue at the same pace you are adding resources; scaling means adding revenue at a much greater rate than cost.” 

Freelance CTOs must understand the factors that drive growth and be able to identify the key levers that can help to accelerate it.

That means it is imperative to know how to develop a clear growth strategy, build scalable systems and processes, and recruit and manage a talented team. As a technical leader, you owe it to yourself to be able to monitor and measure their progress and be willing to make changes and course-correct as needed.

Additionally, as you would for your clients, apply the same to your business. As your client base grows, they need to be able to scale their operations, processes, and technology to meet demand.

Here are some proven suggestions to consider:

  • Automate and streamline their operations.
  • Use cloud-based technologies for increased flexibility and scalability.
  • Build a high-performance team and delegate responsibilities.
  • Establish strong partnerships with other service providers.

A freelance CTO that can scale the businesses of clients as well as theirs can take advantage of growth opportunities, expand their client base,  and leave the competition in the dust.

Use Mastercard's Five Cs To Create Winning IT Teams

You have to put a lot of thought and effort into building a winning tech team and ensure that it can provide the best value for investment. 

Yet again, you don't need to reinvent the wheel:

Success leaves clues - let's take a page from Mastercard's Five Cs for building IT teams.

  • Community - Hire top talent from a community. Think local, and also think social circle with a shared identity. People who identify with a community make it easier to extend a business’ influence as with talent acquisition when the need arises in the future.
  • Common vision - You want to build a team that is eclectic yet fuelled by a desire to achieve a common vision. Go out of your way to consider individuals that tick this box.
  • Cross-functional - Unlike the traditional approach that creates divides based on skills and function, build a cross-functional IT team consisting of individuals with different skills and experience that can deliver a tangible goal be it a product from start to finish. Cross-functional IT teams can collaborate and problem-solve more effectively, leading to more innovative and successful outcomes.
  • Culture - The goal is a team that can get along well. One that shares the values that are dear to you or your clients. Think of underrepresented communities, “neurodivergent talents,” and inclusiveness in your decisions. Irrespective, you should strive to craft a team free of disruptive characters that would stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Cutting edge - Ambitious talent? Yes please! It's okay for individuals to be content with the status quo - not so much for the type of candidate you should hire. Mean? Perhaps. But here's the thing: the rapidly evolving tech landscape and innovation favor those who don't rest on their laurels. If your team is naturally inclined to cutting-edge technology, staying ahead of the curve becomes a whole lot easier.

By adopting these principles, CTOs can create powerhouse IT teams that won't settle for mediocrity but can deliver better solutions to their clients, improve their competitive position, and stay one step ahead of the rest.

Create A Ripple Effect - Share, Share, Share!

Sharing is not just caring; it will take your Industry Influence to the next level. Why should you be bothered? Audience building is a beneficial marketing strategy that allows you to connect with peers, clients, and the wider community. 

So go ahead and share your knowledge, experiences, and expertise. Pick a platform - Twitter, LinkedIn, or Youtube and be consistent.

By sharing, CTOs who are freelancers can create a ripple effect that will build their reputation, expand their network, and create new growth opportunities. 

Reap Revenue Rewards With Quality Clients

It's a simple fact: the wealthy can “provide superior means to increase a professional’s client base with additional high-caliber affluent clients.” But how do you attract these top-tier clients as a freelance CTO? 

One strategy is to register on a niche talent marketplace like EliteBrains to increase your chances of landing high-value clients who are willing to pay a premium for your services. 

Of course, it's not just about attracting clients - you also want to deliver quality work that meets their expectations and keeps them coming back for more. One of the benefits of EliteBrains is that it handles every other aspect of the freelance business for you - marketing, CRM, onboarding, invoicing, and risk management. Once you have all of these covered, it allows you to focus on providing exceptional service and blaze forward as a freelancer providing CTO services - which to be honest is the best way to position yourself for long-term success in the tech industry.


It's simple math: high-quality clients = high revenue. Don't settle for anything less! As a Freelance CTO, aim for the top - register to Elitebrains here.


As a freelance CTO, the onus is on you to keep yourself up-to-date, curious, and driven to succeed. By implementing the tips and advice shared in this article, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry and propel your business to unprecedented levels of growth. Don't hesitate to seize the opportunity to embrace the challenge and unlock your full potential with the help of EliteBrains. Sign up now to create a future that is not only innovative but lucrative!

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