For long-term freelance writers, graphic artists, photographers and creative consultants, the gig economy is nothing new. You work under contract, get paid and move onto the next project. This has been a sustainable means of employment for people who enjoy working but don’t like being confined to the traditional 9-to-5 job. If you can swing paying for your own insurance and not being paid for holidays, sick days or vacation days (very often, you find yourself working through many of these, anyway), it works out well.
As the job scene has greatly shifted over the last several years, the notion of a gig economy appears to be growing. The Boston Globe reports that up to 40 percent of the American workforce will be part of the gig economy by 2020. That means millions of people across the country reaching out to businesses and organizations for short- or long-term project work.
The gig economy is not without its challenges, for both the worker and the employer. For the former, making sure you always have enough jobs to pay for ongoing expenses is a priority; so is making sure you don’t overdo it and suffer from burnout. For the latter, the challenges are finding qualified people for contract jobs and paying competitive fees for their services.
The gig economy does have its bright spots, and one of the brightest might be the entrepreneurial spirit it instills in contract workers. In their joint publication, “Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship,” The Kauffman Foundation and The Public Forum Institute note that the passion, knowledge and risk-taking necessary to partake in the gig economy gives independent workers a strong taste of entrepreneurship. What’s more, the gig economy “puts learning on the job on steroids,” meaning that contractors can gain a variety of skills, often in a short period of time. This can whet the appetite for different types of entrepreneurial careers, and launch independent contractors down self-employed paths they may have otherwise not considered.
How will the gig economy grow, and how will that growth affect the entrepreneurial world? Time will tell, but it’s clear this is an upward trend we should all be watching.