The growing gig economy is giving birth to a new wave of micro-entrepreneurs. Gig workers account for about 34% of the workforce, and that figure is expected to reach 43% by 2020, according to a study by Intuit.
Whether it’s renting a room through Airbnb, driving for Uber or working as a copywriter, gig workers are running their own businesses. But many don’t know what it takes to succeed and make a good living in a gig economy. Here are four skills every micro-entrepreneur needs to thrive in a gig economy.
The “build it and they will come” logic doesn’t apply to gig workers. You need to know how to build your brand and promote your services. Freelancers must understand what their customers need and how to market their services as a solution to those needs.
Freelance marketplaces are a great place to start, but you might also consider launching your own website to promote your services.
In a gig economy, you’re in charge of the books. It’s up to you to calculate whether a project is worth your time. It’s your job to withhold money for taxes. It’s your responsibility to keep track of your monthly capital and revenue statements.
Let’s say you’re a Lyft driver. Lyft drivers earn, on average, $17.50 an hour. If you work 40 hours, you’ll earn about $700 gross. Now, you’ll need to calculate your taxes and the costs of running your business. And you’ll need to do this every week to ensure that you put aside enough money for taxes.
It’s important to have strong financial skills if you want to succeed in a gig economy. Otherwise, you may wind up losing money or having to pay penalties for improper or late tax payments.
3. Critical Thinking
The marketplace is constantly changing. Micro-entrepreneurs need to understand how to change their operations and experiment to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Critical thinking skills will also help you look at problems in different ways and ask the right questions. When you use critical thinking, you make decisions based on logic and reason rather than your gut instincts.
4. People Skills
Successful gig workers understand the dangers of social isolation. They make it a point to join peer groups or even spend several days a week working in co-working spaces.
Many micro-entrepreneurs find that working outside of the home – in coffee shops, libraries, etc. – helps them maintain their social skills and their sanity.
Surround yourself with others who are on a similar path. If your current social circle includes people who are on the corporate path, they may not be able to sympathize with or understand your unique problems.
The gig economy will continue growing as we blur the lines between work and home life. In 2015, nearly 54 million Americans performed some kind of independent work. Some researchers predict that half of the working U.S. population will move into the gig economy in the next five years. Developing these four skills will help you weather the changes and succeed as a micro-entrepreneur.