The days of outsourcing your professional development and financial stability to an employer are quickly coming to a close. With constant downsizing, mergers, and business pivots, today’s workers must be able to create a stable income.
Many workers transition to gigs because they enjoy the flexible work schedule and location. According to a study by Intuit, 34% of today’s workforce is made up of gig workers, or people who work freelance or contract jobs. This number is projected to reach 43% by 2020.
To be successful, you’ll need an education in managing a small business. Your usefulness in any job multiplies if you learn these essential skills.
Learn to ask questions and evaluate sources by measuring authority, bias, currency, content, and accuracy. The Internet and instant information make it all too easy to cite an unsubstantiated factoid without giving it proper consideration. The key is to know how to find, review, and evaluate information and turn it into a compelling argument that supports your point of view. Take an Excel tutorial so you can organize data in a way that increases your ability to draw conclusions and suggest solutions.
Learn basic business models and business jargon so you can speak intelligently with prospective clients. You have to be an expert at what you do, but you also must have the ability to speak fluently in the business language of others.
Managing your commitments is a skill that is learned, not one that just appears naturally. Take the time to design a system for managing multiple commitments by prioritizing them as urgent or important. Set expectations for delivery of materials up front and only accept deadlines you are confident you can meet. Deliver every project on time and respond to all inquiries promptly.
Develop an understanding of the value of time as money. Good financial management practices are critical for a stable income. Managing invoices and payments will give you credibility and better cash flow, which should positively impact profitability. Being an effective worker requires basic software literacy in areas like how to perform effective Boolean searches, or compiling large quantities of data and presenting it as a compelling chart. It’s critical to learn to use in-depth features of software like Microsoft Excel to develop different ways of viewing and presenting data.
Writers, designers, and other creative individuals have to develop business acumen. Design work is almost always commissioned to support the sale of a product or service. You can’t contribute as much if you don’t research the company and understand the project goals.
If your work isn’t supporting a direct product sale, it will still affect future business opportunities between you and the organization. So, ask questions and coordinate a strategy that enhances the brand and makes your client look good.
Transitioning to a Gig Economy.
The evolving marketplace demands that you do more than work hard and have expertise in your field. You have to understand the impact of technology on your field and be able to manage yourself as a brand and an entrepreneur.
If you don’t already take on freelance work, drive an Uber, and work a part-time job, there will come a time when you no longer make a living solely as a traditional employee. Make sure your skill set is up to date, and you’re prepared to leap to a gig economy.