Here’s how you can ensure you thrive in the gig economy
The gig economy has arrived in India
A BCG study says the gig economy has the potential to add 90 million jobs and 1.25% to the GDP. Say hello to the birth of the micro-entrepreneur. Super small businesses that begin with minimal investment and have less than ten employees. Some of your friends are perhaps micro-entrepreneurs. Maybe you’re considering being a micro-entrepreneur too. “It’ll be great to be an independent consultant,” you think.
“But what does it take to succeed as a micro-entrepreneur in the gig economy?” Good question.
Success factor #1 Expertise is everything
It’s not where you work. It’s what you know. An independent consultant in today’s hyper-informed world must have specific, proven skills in a function or industry. And the appetite to keep renovating those skills. These are the twin forces that create a niche. In our recent LinkedIn poll, 41% of insight professionals said ‘building their own niche’ was the key motivation to work as independent consultants.
The path is clear. Develop expertise while you work for companies, before getting into consulting. Almost all independent consultants on the InsightGig platform have at least 5 years of prior company experience. Most have more than 10 years!
But expertise is just one segment of the orange. A successful consulting business needs more.
Success factor #2: Repeat Customers
Once you become a consultant, the pleasant beep of salary credits is history. Payments are neither periodic nor always big. This can be scary. How to de-risk the journey? Many of the independent consultants we spoke to locked in one, steady, repeat customer. A client who shared their vision and values.
But it’s risky to put all your eggs in one basket. To get more leads, market yourself. Did a great piece of work? Got a happy client? Learned something interesting on a project? Share work, testimonials, and insights on social media. Another route is to get referrals from happy clients. It creates quicker conversions. As you build a strong pipeline, you can get to the holy grail of independent consultants in the gig economy – choosing your projects. In fact, in a recent poll conducted by LinkedIn, the ability to choose the right project based on expertise was the main reason for 23% of insight professionals to work independently.
But we know client outreach and lead generation are hard. That’s why InsightGig is developing a vertical-focused platform that can bring clients under one roof for independent consultants and micro-entrepreneurs in the gig economy.
So now you’ve got your repeat clients. But they’re not consistent. That brings us to money.
Success factor #3: Savings
If you’ve grown a rainy-day fund before starting your consulting journey, that’s great! This will fill in for times when a client delays a payment. But if you haven’t got a financial cushion, then it’s best to invest. And the time to start is always now. But how to begin?
Successful micro-entrepreneurs and independent consultants in the gig economy must ask themselves 2 questions. What is my financial goal? What is my risk appetite? Once you have clarity on those points, rope in a financial consultant to guide you through the options and questions. If it’s mutual funds, how to balance debt and equity to create stability with growth? Is there something less conservative but just as safe as fixed deposits? What should I do with my Employee Provident Fund Account? How wise are long-term investments like ULIPs? I invested in a Unit Linked Insurance Policy (ULIP) in my twenties and have lived to regret it. Lastly, how can I ensure that unforeseen medical expenses don’t put a dent in my consulting path? Financial security boosts micro entrepreneurs’ confidence and enables them to truly profit from the gig economy. Stay tuned for more in this area from us!
To save money, you have to make money. That means getting it in time. And that brings us to a hidden fault line in the landscape of a micro-entrepreneur.
Success factor #4: Project Management
When you’re an employee, poor project management leads to long hours. But you still get your salary at the end of the month. When you’re a consultant, poor project management could mean losing money. Now your spouse is not only angry that you haven’t spent Sunday with them; they’re also angry because you’ve canceled the Goa holiday. To extract hard-earned money in time, you need to have a work plan with micro checkpoints that ensure you are on the path to delivery. InsightGig is developing project management tools that will help consultants stay focused on execution. Look out for exciting features down the line.
Last but not least, being a thriving micro-entrepreneur or independent consultant in the gig economy requires a pivotal shift in terms of how you view your everyday.
Success factor #5: Micro-Entrepreneurial Shift
When you’re a salaried employee, you can rely on an assistant to book your flights and a marketing team to do your lead-generation emails. As a consultant, you do it all. The option is to outsource but this can be expensive and unreliable. At InsightGig, we are building a vertical-focused platform that lets you focus on your core work while leaving a lot of the allied work to us.
You’ve got the experience and the passion. But do you have special expertise, a prospect who’s willing to bet on you, savings for rainy days, project management skills, and a “no work is too small” mindset?
These 5 success factors will ensure you thrive in the gig economy. And we’re here to ease your journey with a vertical platform that supports you in some of these areas. Which of these factors do you find most relevant? Leave a comment. The most popular area will be our next focus!