A Guide to Surviving (and Thriving) in the Gig Economy
Once upon a time, you would get a job after college and you would stay with that company until your retirement, when they would give you a gold watch and send you on your way. Today’s workforce is much less permanent, staying, on average, only a few years with a company. What’s more, many people are eschewing the standard 9-5 office jobs for the Gig Economy, in which they can work on what they want when they want. Being your own boss is a very attractive lifestyle, but it is not for the faint of heart. Here’s what you need to know.
1. There are many advantages to being your own boss.
When you work in a traditional employee/employer relationship, you don’t have much control over where, when or how you work. When you are your own boss, you can choose to do only the projects you are most interested in; work in a coffee shop if you want to, or even only work late at night. The lifestyle is so attractive that people are flocking to take part in it. Last year 34 percent of the workforce were freelancers, and that figure is projected to grow to 43 percent by 2020.
In addition, you are less likely to get sick when you don’t have to be around people in a traditional office setting, and you will be able to save yourself a lot of time and money by not being forced to commute every day. The average American spends 26 minutes each way commuting, which can lead to some serious health complications.
When you are a freelancer, earning business and meeting deadlines is all up to you. It’s doable if you are able to do the following:
- Create a website and social media presence
- Keep your portfolio up-to-date
- Keep your business cards handy
- Maintain relationships with past clients—they will refer others to you and return as customers
- Create professional contracts so everyone is on the same page about deadlines and payments
- Complete all work on time—you’re more likely to get referrals and repeat business
Other responsibilities include:
- Insurance: If you don’t already have health insurance, be prepared to pick up the tab.
- Taxes: Freelancers are responsible for employment taxes and social security.
- Retirement: You have a few options here but there’s no matching benefit.
Learn more about challenges and benefits to the gig economy from the infographic below.