2: The Gig Economy and why it’s still all good.
So if the Gig is the new norm, what do you really need to keep it running?
Be agile, deft, like water. Indeed Grasshopper. This comes with the Gig Economy (GE) territory. And being a ‘business ninja’ is fun. A light footprint, unburdened to focus on the tasks at hand. And where are the traditional financial overheads going when you dispense with an office? Somewhere, that’s for sure. Those savings mean that gig businesses can strip down to their essentials and go head to head in many cases with the Big Guys. If your brand’s SEO can be optimized, I can find it just as quickly as anyone else’s online. Working with a minimized footprint also lets you figure out what’s actually important, a little like an introspective stint of travel where you only end up wearing one shirt everyday by journey’s end.
Maybe the Stones said it better:
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime…you find…
You get what you need
What is actually necessary for you to perform your business processes? What’s the minimum you need to produce, connect with customers, and deliver? What tech can help you here? How does it fit around your needs and not make you end up working for it?
Common business use of terms such as ‘agile’ and ‘nimble’ are symptomatic of larger organizations attempting to overcome structural problems. The wish is emphatically to retain the youthful vigor of the startup days, and the challenge is how to re-access that teen spirit. For GE people, the distinct lack of the need to focus on structure means the liberty to act on your ideas. This is a gold nugget in the possession of every potential Gig citizen. Untether. Be mobile. Go where you need to get it done. Wherever, whenever…whatever.
Post-2008 economic woes have meant US entrepreneurship has actually continued to decline overall. That’s because in uncertain times, it makes sense to take the salary and walk the safe line. Bottom line startup activity diminished to a deep trough by 2014, and Big Business has absorbed a lot of young talent uptake, making ‘startup’ more equivalent to ‘big startup’.
Let’s re-establish what we want ‘entrepreneur’ to mean.
A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
Society has developed the cultural portmanteau of ‘solopreneur’ to describe those of you who are simply going at it alone, on your own terms. Business owners who are not necessarily looking to take over the world, make trillions, or even hire. On paper there were 17.7M of you in the US alone, out of a total 155M workforce. That’s 8.6%, folks. And let’s glance at that squiggly line up there again. That’s a big ass rebound since 2014. Now in 2017 we are seeing 41M, or 31% of the overall workforce, as registered independent workers.
Solo entrepreneurs who offer a uniquely developed or positioned offering in the marketplace are necessarily offering something they devised and managed themselves. There’s a ****load of satisfaction in there somewhere. and the figures back it up. 77% of independents say they’re happier going solo than in their prior ‘traditional’ working structure. And that’s actually 84% of full-time independents who agreed, and 66% of part-time independents in agreement. And by ‘independents’, we define this as working more than 15 hours per week independent of company. In practice, people work north of 35 hours per week. Of course they do, who else is going to do it when you’re solo? And that extra burden is where ‘solopreneur’ came from, the notion that entrepreneurs bear the risk willingly. So:
More Solo = More Happy?
The Solo Gig
So is this the new flavor of entrepreneur? A search to locate satisfaction in how they work as well as what they’re actually working at? Freedom in having real responsibility over risk decisions, or simply escaping a previous work situation for something more relevant? Even if you end up working more than before? Solo women tend towards flexibility as the top motivator, whereas solo men answer in terms of perceived personal control, saying they prefer ‘to be their own boss’. Whatever the viewpoint, it’s all moving in the same direction. It’s all on the same wave. Returning to the analogy of travel, perhaps it’s all about what happens in between departure and arrival, it’s not just about the ‘getting there’. Are people in this for the ride as well as the profit?
If the GE is about variety, braiding your separate talent threads in to a stronger rope, then that means self-branding is critical so that the marketplace knows about your combined offerings and how to find them. Side-gig, front-gig, up, down, charmed or strange (okay, bad quark analogy), solo or eventually in teams, it’s all again about getting your Thing out there and noticed. Tech solutions now allow us to do this freely, whereas before we needed to procure the services of a professional to navigate the murky waters of advertising. The difference is basically how you convert your ability to represent yourself and your brand into quick, meaningful contact with prospects, and how this pushes towards the initiation of sales, services, or projects. In a word, socialize the **** out of you as your brand.
This is the Gig, and maybe it ultimately gives us more real control to define our path. I think this is what we’re looking for.
The Zipline wants to hear your views. What are the challenges in balancing multiple income streams? What tech helps you get there? How do you brand yourself to best effect? What’s your Gig Economy story?