Surviving The Gig Economy — New Ways To Work
Many experts are predicting that the new world of work will see more of us working on a ‘gig’ basis — in a ‘Gig Economy.’
Some people who are accustomed to a regular full time gig with annual leave, holiday pay, sick leave, fringe benefits, parental leave etc may be horrified by the thought — it will not be as ‘secure’ as a life in the Gig Economy.
But it is not a new concept. For years, artists, musicians and project workers have lived from gig to gig. Feast and famine. Poverty then power. Blood, sweat and tears for 20 years to become an overnight success.
But what has changed are the range of resources now available to help us manage our work and personal lives in a gig economy. In this article, I will reflect on both the old and the new principles we can live by to find meaning, purpose and income in the gig economy.
1. Let Go Of How Things Should Be
Sorry folks, the goal posts have changed. Just like they did last century when cars started replacing horses. We live in a world of constant change and to be fair, I will acknowledge that the rate of change is increasing at a frenetic rate.
But we have to accept that and move on. We have to stop wishing it was the same and work out what to do next. We have a range of old and new methodologies that we can use, so part of the journey will still be familiar. But it will also be different.
2. Reprioritise What Is Important
Is everything you want necessary? Or is it important? Is each item a need or a want? In a worst case scenario, what would you need to survive and what can wait a little longer? One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received, that has saved me a fortune in both time and money is, don’t ever buy anything until you absolutely need it. Time to find it and money to acquire it. Let’s also mention the waste of energy to create it and the space to store it!
I am not saying that you have to deprive yourself of everything that is important to you, but some of the ‘stuff’ we assume is so important is quite simply, not that important. A latest model car is not essential. A well kept clean car can suffice. Designer label clothing is nice — but you don’t need to buy it new to still wear it.
3. Start Seeking Alternatives
If you sat down for half a day with a clear list of what was important to you, what alternatives could you conjure up for all of your priorities? What can you re-use in different ways? What costs can you reduce? What goods can be recycled or re-purposed? What additional resources can you access? What reasons are keeping you stuck? What do you need to relinquish? What could you re-gain?
Sometimes, just sometimes, when you take a careful look at what you have been doing for so long, you start to realise that it wasn’t exactly how you wanted things anyway. That your true vision and mission was not being fulfilled. That perhaps, with a new approach, you could actually be much more aligned with your true meaning and purpose.
Let’s consider some real alternatives in the Gig Economy
Mentoring — through a professional association
I have always said how important it is to be a member of a professional association. This gives you an opportunity to remain connected to other professionals, maintain your professional development and in most cases, access low cost mentoring! Whether it is by a formal program or informal gatherings, consider this opportunity, particularly if you are in the early stages of your career as a very relevant and cost effective way to receive the mentoring you need at a fraction of the cost of traditional professional mentoring.
Accountability Partner — to maintain your momentum
One of the big things you ‘lose’ in a Gig Economy is the opportunity to see the same people on a regular basis, in particular, the people who keep you accountable for your actions on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Setting up a system where you regularly meet a trusted equal (not competitor), especially when you know what you have to do to achieve your goals, to reflect on your actions and review your plans is vital to maintaining your momentum through the peaks and troughs.
Exchange Partner — to exchange skills
There are many times when the skills you have could be traded with someone else who has different skills that you need. This can be things like graphic design in exchange for the written word or at home — you cook the dinner and I will do the dishes!
Sharing partner — to share the experience
Do you know someone who would like to work with you on the same or similar goal? Will having them with you help you both achieve your goal? If you simply set times to work together, will you both get more done because you have an ‘appointment?’ On a personal level, this could be someone who joins you on your exercise program so that you don’t spend that extra half hour in bed in the morning — and you start looking after your health too!
Property Choice — reduce your overheads
One of the very exciting things to come out of the Gig Economy is the ability to work from home, from a serviced office, from a collaborative workplace, a community hub, a purpose built communal precinct, the library, pay per square metre storage etc. There is no need to go it alone and have the full burden of unused space, high overheads, long term leases etc. Activity based design workspaces can allow you to repurpose the space you do have and do more with less — reducing individual workspaces, paper consumption and filing space, printers etc
Utilise the Sharing Economy — share and share alike
We all know that so many traditional enterprises and their revenue models have been completely disrupted by the Sharing Economy. Various online portals have transformed the accommodation and taxi industries (like AirBNB and Uber). You may find that there are sharing resources you can use to achieve your goals.
Access Online Portals — for economies of scale
New niche websites have decimated traditional classified advertising sections in newspapers (real estate, car sales and employment advertisements). Even classified advertisements are available free of charge through websites like Gumtree and Craig’s List. Look around and try and find the ‘audience’ you are seeking. Some directories are a waste of time, but others have managed to generate regular traffic, innovation and expansion that leads to results!
Get Your Own Gigs Direct
Even the way that gigs are available has changed. It started with general websites where you could post a gig and experts could pitch their services across a range of disciplines (like Odesk and Freelancer) and now more specific gigs (like 99Designs for graphic design and Airtasker for local gigs). You may need to register with a variety of these portals that match the type of work you would like to secure. Aim for the more effective in the first round. LinkedIn is joining this market by launching ProFinder.
Source Gigs Via Low Fee Marketing
You may choose to do voluntary work or low fee paying gigs (like those offered through Fiverr) or teach students in your discipline to attract higher paying gigs once you have developed your reputation or people have ‘seen you in action’ before choosing you for a future gig. If you do receive some payment for your work at this level, it can be a form of ‘paid marketing’ rather than an ‘advertising expense.’
Increase Your Digital Footprint And Develop A Digital Asset
If you are going to source gigs online, you will need a good quality digital footprint and constantly develop a digital asset that automatically generates leads, referrals and gigs! This is a more comprehensive challenge that can take time, but building a digital asset is a great long term strategy and reduces your risk if you have previously only sourced gigs via a digital expense (like online ads).
Whether you have strategic alliances, referral partners, affiliate programs or you just maintain a close relationship with your past clients, it is essential that you have a variety of relationships that you maintain on a regular basis. As I have said before, there is no such thing as job security any more. Your network is your ‘net-worth’ nowadays. I think LinkedIn is an extremely valuable tool for this purpose.
I trust that some of these techniques will help you survive and thrive in the Gig Economy. I have been operating with these various techniques for around 20 years and keep adding new methodologies as the new services come online.
Likewise, I have also maintained tight budgeting and cash flow management principles at all times and most fortunately, have lived a life ‘on purpose’ for a long time now. I have had the flexibility to maintain my highest values — and no amount of financial reward can compete with that!
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments — what have you done to survive the Gig Economy?
Sue Ellson BBus AIMM MAHRI CDAA (Assoc) ASA MPC
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