The “gig” or “sharing” economy represents a boon to entrepreneurship. While this trend is the topic of much debate in the political arena, it represents the core underlying belief system all entrepreneurs share – build a way to make money for yourself doing something that you enjoy and on your own terms.
Technology and business models enabling this new economy remove some of the greatest barriers individuals run into trying to start their own venture–setting up, finding work, getting paid and building a reputation in a given space.
For example, Caroline Marks is a CPA who was working in a very traditional job for a CPA firm. She decided to start her own practice so she would have the flexibility to stay at home with her kids. She uses Moonlighting, an app that connects participants in the sharing economy and facilitates payment, to promote her services and get work.
Caroline is a proponent of the “gig economy”. Caroline shares, “I am the primary breadwinner for my family. Moonlighting gives me the ability to be a participant in my child’s lives while allowing me to earn a living”.
Caroline’s clients get the advantage of a qualified CPA to manage their books and only pay for the time they use. Apps such as Moonlighting give your company the ability to tap into resources that you may not be able to afford otherwise, another benefit of this new trend.
Apps like Moonlighting and Uber include review and rating features. These models establish a fundamental shift in the relationship between employer and employee by empowering both. Individuals can pick and choose the companies and projects they want to work on–or the passenger they want to pick up.
This transparency provides companies a better way to understand the quality of an individual’s work before deciding to bring them on board for a project.
The resulting relationship is one of “choosing to work” with each other. This approach keeps the relationship between the parties healthy. I, as have many company owners, have made the mistake of hiring too early. The fit wasn’t right or I didn’t have as much work as I thought to keep the individual busy.
Hiring someone on part time or project basis allows us to try each other out before committing to a more permanent relationship. Any part time person who wants more work or enjoys the relationship will aggressively pursue other ways to add value to my company.
In order to recover from the impact of 2008, the world needs to rethink what it means to “work”.
Entire industries were impacted by the introduction of smartphones, ubiquitous Internet and social media. Think through the number of jobs that were lost when consumers stopped buying physical products such as books, dvds, music and board games that are now delivered electronically. Consider the number of devices and systems that have been replaced by the smartphones in our pockets and integrated into our laptops.
This new connected world calls for a different way to work.
Regrettably many companies, the American education system, and most politicians are out of touch with what it will take to prepare and effectively succeed in this new environment. The new paradigm requires that everyone understand how to sell their services to companies and each other rather than relying on a company to sell what they do on their behalf.
Thankfully there are companies stepping into this void to create opportunities that take advantage of this growing trend, addressing many of the issues that those just starting out suffer with–how to market, establish a relationship with a customer, get paid and build a reputation. The market will dictate the appropriate price and approach. Too much regulation too quickly will stunt the potential for this growing market.