You may be part of the Gig Economy without even realizing it! Whether that’s good or bad is often a matter of whether you’ve landed there by choice or circumstance.
Why would anyone intentionally choose to be part of a career path that sounds so unreliable? Consider the benefits if you’re doing this by choice: You get to pursue work you choose to do, set your own hours and be your own boss. You get to meet new people—interesting people and often do cool things.
So how do people get jobs in The Gig Economy? Well, sometimes it’s by default—you’re unemployed, and you’re broke. But that’s not the best way. I’m reminded of the little boy who told his Mom what he wanted to be when he grew up was to be a stay-at- home dad. She wisely advised him, “First you need to have a college education and a career, then maybe someday you can be a stay-at- home dad.” It’s like that with the Gig Economy. First, it’s best to have an education and a career where you develop your skills, build some personal equity, save some money and invest in ways that provide an alternative source of income.
As I researched this article and reflected on work I’ve done over the years in several small businesses, the golden thread through all of them was my strength in spotting opportunities, creative problem solving and my passion for adding value to people. The “vehicles” included an interior design business, followed by opening High-Impact Marketing Services and then High-Impact Coaching and Consulting.
So what was it that made these “gigs” possible? Four years into our marriage, with three children—soon to be four—Jim and I risked our entire savings of $2,000 to renovate a dismal garage with a dirt floor into a start-up take-out pizza business. With a degree in Restaurant Management and two years’ work experience in an Italian restaurant in Baltimore, Jim had both the experience and the passion for making it work. Regretfully, I had neither but I did have a degree in Foods and Nutrition and we had a family to feed. Together, we persevered, took risks, and grew the business as we worked harder than we ever thought possible for 13 years until the risks were too big to bear. With nearly 300 employees, two production plants and coast-to-coast grocery store distribution of our frozen pizzas and a full year of talks and negotiations we said, “Yes,” to a Fortune 500 company’s offer to buy us. And that’s when the “gigs” began. Life has been good—not easy, but good—and we are filled with gratitude to God above and for our ever-growing family.
The payoff of these “gigs” of mine was largely in personal growth and fulfillment. Rewards that meant the most to me were authoring three books—one of which was sold to a publishing company in India to be used as a handbook for entrepreneurs—and 14 Special Reports sold in more than 40 countries. I also authored and marketed an easy-to- customize Employee Personnel Manual for five years before selling the rights to a company specializing in Human Resource products in McLean, VA. I co-founded and served as president of “The Samaritan Foundation” for nine years before passing it on to one of our sons, earned my M.A. degree at Michigan State University and later trained as an Executive Coach, and John Maxwell Certified Coach. During my coaching and consulting days, I had the privilege and opportunity to work with public and privately-held businesses, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs.
My research tells me The Gig Economy is here to stay and growing. Make it work for you by building your career base in more than one area if you possibly can, work hard, take calculated risks and persevere. The Gig Economy is a hot topic. Check it out on Google to learn from recent articles by NY Times, Fast Company, Forbes, and others.
© Judith DeLapa High-Impact 2017