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Bear Market. Gig Economy. How Do They Fit Together?

Pick a worse time to post your first article on LinkedIn. I dare you.

In the waning hours of the longest bull market in history, I wrote about the growth of freelancing/the gig economy/online platform workers, whatever you want to call it.

Days later, coronavirus turned a corner and the S&P 500 slid hard, posting a close 25% lower than its record high in mid-February.

By the middle of last week, we were talking bear markets and recession.

The Midas Touch of Bull Markets

When you propose an idea in a raging bull market, it instantly turns to gold.

Well, not really, not always.

But, you can monetize a lot of bad ideas in the insulation a bull market provides. Remember that sock puppet dog from

When bull markets inevitably turn bear, everything flows downstream — shit included. We get to take a good look at the good ideas and the bad, and what’s real becomes clear very quickly.

If an idea is all speculation and no value, there’s nothing like an economic punch in the face to bring this into the light of day.

Bear, It’s Been a Long Time

The last time we had a real bear market, we were all 10 years younger. That means those college grads you hired last year were earning scout badges and competing in science fairs as we were exiting the Great Recession.

No one has seen today’s gig economy under real bear market conditions. We’re sailing into unchartered waters.

Today's Gig Economy sails into the unchartered waters of its first real bear market. (Photo by Author)

Under bull market conditions, the gig economy has grown to more than $1 trillion. Sure, some of that is convenience spending. And that evaporates in an environment of uncertainty.

Like we’re in right now.

Even without coronavirus concerns, leaner times probably mean postponing jobs and gigs that can be postponed, like handyman jobs, or renting a vacation home, or outsourcing simple errand-like tasks.

These delays can extend to more complex, strategic tasks too — like the content marketing, web development, and consulting gigs you see on online platforms.

But, I know a lot of clients and businesses that have come to depend on on-demand consultants to deliver their results. To get jobs done.

While there are ‘luxury services’ that can and probably will get in-sourced as uncertainty grows, valid reasons remain for outsourcing work to freelancers and consultants.

Why Consider On-Demand Consultants in a Bear Environment?

Sure, the economics — like everything — change in a bear environment. Especially this market, where nothing has really changed since the bull market, except Coronavirus.

But, in these uncertain times, why should you consider on-demand consultants? Do they still jive with bear market business strategies? Consider these reasons:

1. The Work Is Still There, Even If Your Attention and Resources Can’t Be

We live with lots of distractions — last week in the bull market and this week in the bear. While your employees work out work-from-home schedules and kids-home-from-school realities, the work still needs to get done. Hire extra help. Spread the load. On-demand workers know how to work remotely already and can help you meet your business objectives so your employees can work out their personal ones.

2. Amid Uncertain Resources and Demand, A Flexible Workforce Can Help

The great thing about a flexible workforce is that they’re … flexible. Use ’em when you need ’em. Don’t when you don’t. Even in uncertain times, it’s still an amazing model. When you’re unsure about workload levels and how much of that work your workforce can absorb, get a pressure release valve.

3. Tap into On-Demand Expert Help … Affordably

Expert help costs money. It’s a big commitment to hire a full-time MBA, especially when you have half a role or less of expert-level work to give to that MBA. With freelance MBAs, you can hire an MBA for half of a week or a quarter of a week. Or, you can hire two MBAs, each with different skill sets. This model allows you to tap into the resources of the Fortune 500, without adopting their budgets.

4. Take People for a Trial Run

It’s tough to evaluate a potential employee in a one-hour interview. What if you could try someone out on a project, for a couple of weeks or months to see if you’re a good fit for each other? With freelancing, you can. When times do get better (and they will), you’ll have a pool of people to pick from for new initiatives and those initiatives that surge up in the next bull market, when it comes. (And it will, in time.)

Don’t Lose Sight of the Forest for the Trees

COVID-19 came and COVID-19 will leave. And it will become another milestone on the event timeline of the 21st century. Don’t get lost in the noise of the news media. Work still needs to get done. Try a flexible work model for the flexibility that an uncertain world needs.

You’ll keep producing, and you’ll be planning for the future too.





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Ryan W Owen

Ryan W Owen

Writer / Photographer / Linguist / MBA