I recently heard a term used on the news that I hadn’t heard before. They were saying that we’re experiencing a “gig economy.” I thought I had a good idea of what it is but wanted to be sure, and I was right. I thought I’d share an explanation of this article and how the gig economy can affect small business owners.
In today’s fast-paced world, the gig economy is the latest buzzword, a term that refers to the growing trend of workers opting for freelance or short-term contract jobs over traditional nine-to-five jobs. The gig economy is essentially a labor market that is dominated by temporary, part-time, and contract work and is characterized by an increasing number of independent workers and freelancers.
It’s become increasingly popular in recent years for various reasons. Many employees were forced to work from home due to the Coronavirus and other reasons. These changes created advances in technology and the rise of more and more internet-based jobs. This has enabled workers to take on freelance work from anywhere in the world and has created a global marketplace for skills and services. Obviously, this is not a new concept for many of us. I’ve been doing this exact thing for over 25 years now.
As a result of the increase of people working from home, people have realized they can take on side hustles and extra “gigs” to earn extra income or even start their own businesses providing services for what they do best. With this massive growth of gig workers, businesses can tap into a pool of highly skilled and experienced workers who can provide specialized services on a project-by-project basis.
The gig economy is not just limited to traditional freelance roles such as writers, designers, and developers. It has expanded to include a wide range of professions from delivery drivers and ride-sharing services to home cleaners and pet sitters, not to leave out shop-for-you services. This means that small business owners can also benefit from the gig economy by tapping into these services to help grow their businesses.
One of the key benefits of the gig economy for small business owners is the ability to access a pool of highly skilled workers at a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time employees. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that are just starting out and have limited resources. By outsourcing certain tasks to freelance workers, small business owners can save money on salaries and benefits, while still receiving high-quality work.
Another advantage of the gig economy is the flexibility it provides. Freelance workers are often willing to work outside of traditional business hours, which can be beneficial for small businesses that have a tight deadline or need a quick turnaround on a project. Additionally, freelance workers can provide on- demand services, which means that small business owners can access their skills and expertise when they need them, without having to commit to a long-term contract.
In addition to the cost savings and flexibility, small business owners can also benefit from the gig economy by tapping into a wider pool of talent. Freelance workers often have a diverse range of skills and experience, which can be useful for businesses that need specific expertise for a project. This can help small business owners to access a level of expertise that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.
Also, the gig economy can also afford small business owners with access to a wider range of services. For example, a small business owner may need a website design but may not have the resources or expertise to do it themselves. By outsourcing this task to a freelance web designer, the small business owner can access high-quality services without having to invest in expensive software or training.
While there are many benefits to the gig economy, it is important for small business owners to understand that there are also risks involved. Freelance workers may not always provide consistent quality of work or may not be reliable in meeting deadlines. Additionally, small business owners may have limited control over the work that is being done, which can be a concern for businesses that require a high degree of control over their brand image.
To eliminate these risks, small business owners should carefully vet freelance workers and establish clear expectations and guidelines for the work being done. It is also important to establish clear communication channels and to provide regular feedback to ensure that the work is meeting the required standards. This can be done by checking references such as past clients they’ve worked for. And plan for multiple methods of communications. For example, I prefer online chat, email, or text messages, but am reachable by phone if needed, as well. There are services such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or even Zoom meetings to help with your communication needs with a freelancer.
I myself provide a wide range of services and consulting and each client has their preferred method of communication. It is best to set up a consistent date and time on a regular basis that you will meet to progress updates. I’d even suggest a default length of time for that meeting. This allows all parties to know what’s expected, when, and for how long. And it’s important to stick to those as everyone’s time is valuable. If you consistently step outside of those restraints, you may find that progress breaks down or you even risk the possibility of losing that person.
A Different Angle
We’ve focused mostly on hiring “gig workers,” and we could even dive in further to check out places to hire these freelancers, but I have covered a few of those places in previous articles. So, I’ll switch briefly to the idea of you becoming a service provider yourself.
I recently wrote an article about knowing your worth. In that article I explained and even suggested an exercise about knowing what you are best at and what the value of those tasks are mainly for the purpose of knowing what jobs you should do yourself and which you should outsource. But think about this. If you find yourself in a lull in your business and want to earn a little bit of extra income or maybe just to give yourself a change of pace, you might consider being a gig worker yourself. Maybe in a future article I’ll explain what that could like and how a person could start getting gigs of their own.
In conclusion, the gig economy is a growing trend that provides small business owners and entrepreneurs with a range of benefits, including cost savings, flexibility, and access to a wider pool of talent and services. As the gig economy continues to grow, small business owners who are willing to embrace this trend can easily put into place a pool of resources and relationships they could pull from at any given time when something is needed and save themselves a lot of money in the end.