The 5 Types of People Who’ll Succeed in the New, You Economy

UPDATED: March 17, 2021
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2016

Have you noticed the fundamental way people are changing how they work? It’s happening all around you. Cars disappearing from the company parking lot. Cubicles sitting empty. Family members earning more money. Friends suddenly having free time in the middle of the week.

They’re all part of what experts are calling the “YouEconomy,” which encompasses the sharing, on-demand, gig, freelance and other movements toward economic freedom and flexibility. The YouEconomy is a growing, global movement of people who are taking the future of work into their own hands. They’re sharing resources and technology, taking gigs through job sites, creating freelance businesses and innovating methods of generating income.

Related: The New Normal: Why We’ll All Be Freelancers One Day

Folks in the YouEconomy are applying their experience in new ways, learning new skills, and tapping into endless resources for training and support. They’re designing their lives, carving out time for family, and building professions based on their passions. Along the way, the friends they’re making, people they’re meeting, and places they’re seeing are enriching their lives beyond what they thought was possible.

Its demographics are surprising. Millennials are of course quick to adopt the technology opportunities of the YouEconomy, and they make up 51 percent of this workforce. But older generations are not being left behind. In fact, over 30 percent of the self-employed population is aged 55 or older, according to a study by economic researcher EMSI. The YouEconomy encompasses all ages, ethnic backgrounds and education levels. As diverse as the people in the YouEconomy are, they generally have three things in common:

  1. People in the YouEconomy have more control over their time than the average employee.
  2. They have more control over their income than the average employee.
  3. They are actively learning and exploring new ways of creating prosperity.

If you recognize your dream in this list, that’s good news.

How long have you wished that you could make more money? Or have more time with your family and friends? Or leave a lasting legacy that your kids or grandkids could one day call their own? The dream of controlling your own destiny is one you have in common with countless other people around the world. But like so many others, you may have had trouble figuring out a way to make this dream a reality.

That’s where the YouEconomy comes in. One-third of YouEconomy workers are making more than 40 percent of their income as solopreneurs.

For Eric Johnson, the YouEconomy provided a way to start earning some extra income, learn new skills, and create a strategy to achieve his independence. Eric says he had a dream of starting his own freelance design business, but he wasn’t willing to leave his full-time job designing ads for a big firm without the surety of a thriving freelance career.

So he went online. Using gig websites, like Upwork and Fiverr, Eric started bidding on small jobs. Over a period of months, putting in extra time on the weekends, Eric says he was able to build a small client list and earned some positive feedback he could use as testimonials.

He built a website and posted his testimonials. Then he went to Udemy, an online learning site, to find a course on how to start a freelance business, where he learned business skills like bookkeeping and goal-setting. He read a book on building confidence and a series of magazine articles on reinvention and personal development. And by the end of a year, Eric, who had saved most of the income he earned from his side hustle as a graphic designer, quit his job at the ad firm and launched full-time as a freelancer.

“It was the best—and scariest—day of my life,” Eric says, “but I knew I was doing the right thing. I finally had control of who I worked with and what I worked on. I finally had control of my own life.”

What to Do

Like the freelancer designer Eric, you might have an idea of how you could join the YouEconomy. But not everyone does. Sometimes, it takes seeing the options before you realize what you want. Fortunately, there are a lot of avenues from which to choose. The variety of YouEconomy occupations makes classification tricky, but in general, individual participants fall into one of five large categories.

1. Independent contractors

Traditional freelancers such as writers and designers who work on a project-by-project basis (36 percent of the You Economy workforce)

2. Diversified workers

People who mix work styles, combining both employment and freelance work with new peer-to-peer opportunities such as driving with Uber (26 percent)

3. Moonlighters

People with traditional jobs who do freelance work on the side (25 percent)

4. Temporary workers

People who work for one employer for a finite period of time (9 percent)

5. Micro-entrepreneurs

People who operate a business with one to five employees, often working on a virtual basis and including direct sellers (5 percent)

For people like Eric and others who are longing for more control over some aspect of your life, the YouEconomy offers tools to claim that control.

If you decide to work full-time at your YouEconomy pursuit, you could outpace your current salary and live a life of greater freedom.

Remember that part of your journey in the YouEconomy isn’t just financial or occupational, it’s also emotional, mental, and spiritual. By seeking a new way of spending your time and applying your talents or personality assets, you are creating a life that is uniquely your own. You’re expanding your perspective, finding new joy, and discovering what gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

The YouEconomy is about far more than money. It’s the opportunity for growth, innovation, and to create a legacy. Your place in the YouEconomy can’t be filled by anyone else. The world is waiting for your skills, your ideas, your smile. Are you ready to step up? It’s time to claim your place in the YouEconomy today.

Amy Anderson is the former senior editor of SUCCESS magazine, an Emmy Award-winning writer and founder of Anderson Content Consulting. She helps experts, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs to discover their truth, write with confidence, and share their stories so they can transform their past into hope for others. Learn more at and on Facebook.