The Gig Economy: What it Means and How to Survive It

The Gig Economy:

What it Means and How to Survive It

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If you’ve heard of the gig economy before, you may not be sure if you’re apart of it. Are you a full time employee in a full time job? If not, you’re most likely within the “gig community” and may not have even known it.

According to Diane Mulcahy, professor of the “Gig Economy” class at Babson College in Boston, the gig economy covers anyone from a contractor, a consultant, a freelancer, a part time worker, and even on demand workers. Clearly it includes a lot of different professions, industries, sectors, and income levels.

Mulcahy is an expert on the gig economy, and has also written a book on the subject. To start off by giving you some of her wisdom, here are the ten “rules” Mulcahy lists to become successful in this economy.

1. Define your success
2. Diversify
3. Create your own security
4. Connect without networking
5. Face fear by reducing risk
6. Take time off between gigs
7. Be mindful about time
8. Be financially flexible
9. Think access, not ownership
10. Save for a traditional retirement, but don’t plan on having one

Now let’s look at some of these aspects in more detail. Creating your own security and thinking access, not ownership are two very big points in today’s day and age. Within the job market, full time jobs are actually decreasing in favor of people who can do the work on the side or part time. There are so many changes in the business world that you can’t rely on any one job or any one employer. Full time jobs aren’t going to disappear completely and most people will hold full time jobs at some point during their career, but that isn’t what graduating students these days should strive for.

Therefore: create your own security. Figure out what your skillsets and expertise are, then brainstorm what kind of gigs you can do. There won’t be the financial and job security for something such as buying a house or a car, but with more living and transportation options available, those things aren’t as necessary as they used to be.

“The gig economy is here: it’s growing, it’s growing quickly, and it’s here to stay.”

The gig economy is also an economy of skills. You really have to constantly keep track of what your skills are, what your expertise is, what your value to the market is, and what people are willing to pay you. This falls under diversifying yourself and defining your own success. Ask yourself, how can you gain new skills? How can you expand your network and develop new opportunities for yourself? Developing this mindset is the most important.

Also on Mulcahy’s list is connecting without networking. This is especially important for introverts who abhor situations where they have to walk around a crowded room, introducing themselves to people who might be important. Great news–you don’t have to do that anymore.

Writing is actually one of the best and easiest ways to make connections with people. This could be on social media–tweeting or having a dynamic Facebook page– or it could be writing articles for an industry publication or a blog. If you’re comfortable with speaking, you could also put out podcasts to reach people. With these techniques, people will come to you, which also makes your audience much more targeted and relevant to you. You have to put yourself out there, but on your own terms.

So what are some other skills that are important to have as a “gigger”? Make sure you’re somewhat proactive in the entrepreneurial field, as gigging often goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, and make sure you have the financial wherewithal to go out into the gig economy. Savings and a lifestyle that’s financially flexible is what makes surviving in the gig economy both successful and beneficial.

With all of this information to digest, there’s just one point left to take in: make sure to take time off.

“Time is the new money–that is the scarce resource that we all are facing.”

Whether it’s for a week or a year, give yourself time to figure out what you want and hone in the skills you need to succeed.

We all struggle with how to balance professional and personal lives, and the gig economy allows you so many more opportunities to do that effectively.

Colleen Minkewicz

Colleen is a college student at SUNY New Paltz graduating in Spring 2017 majoring in English and Creative Writing. She aspires to become an editor/work in publishing in the future.

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