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Tips for Entering the Gig Economy

Tips for Entering the Gig Economy

By Lucy Reed

Is the nine-to-five grind crushing your spirit? Do you dread going to work each morning and live for the weekend? If so, maybe the office job life just isn’t for you. More and more people are finding their place in the gig economy. But can you really make a living in the gig economy, and if so, how is it done?

According to Nation1099, approximately 11 percent of US workers earn their living full-time in the gig economy, and 36 percent do at least some freelancing. Gig economy workers cite benefits like better work-life balance, flexibility, the ability to work remotely, and finding work they enjoy.

The gig economy takes several forms. On one hand, you have people earning money through the sharing economy. This includes Uber and Lyft drivers, Airbnb hosts, and TaskRabbit handymen, among others. While most people providing on-demand services are using it as a side hustle, some earn full-time income through sharing economy platforms.

Freelancers are often lumped into the gig economy. Freelancers include a wide range of professionals, from bloggers to business consultants. Often, freelancers are people who have left an office job in favor of working for themselves. However, many freelancers hold down a full- or part-time job and pursue independent projects on the side.

Whether you want to be a gig worker or a freelancer, work part-time or full-time, a plan is essential for business success.

First, know your goals. Do you want to increase your disposable income or grow a business that can eventually supplant your full-time job? To determine how much time you need to commit to your new gig, set an income goal and calculate your approximate hourly earnings. Understand that workloads tend to ebb and flow in the gig economy. Some months, you may have more work than you can handle; other times, you may feel like you don’t have enough. Budget your cash flow so you can make ends meet when business slows.

If you want to work full-time in the gig economy, don’t quit your job immediately. Instead, start building a customer base while you have the security of full-time employment. Only when you have enough leads to replace your income can you truly afford to quit your job.

Of course, saying goodbye to the office job means you’ll need a new place to work. Unless your gig keeps you on the go, like rideshare driving or dog walking, you’ll need a home office to conduct your business. Set up a space that’s free from distractions and keep regular office hours to hold yourself accountable to your work. If you want to deduct home office expenses from your taxes, it’s important that the space is separate from the rest of your home and used exclusively for work.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to apply for professional licenses, sales tax permits, or other paperwork in order to operate legally. Before you open for business, refer to the US Small Business Administration to learn if you require federal licenses or permits. For state licenses and permits, reach out to your local chamber of commerce or small business development center.

Once you have a plan and your paperwork is in order, it’s time to find customers. When it comes to connecting with clients, marketing is your best friend. Even if your marketing budget is nonexistent, you can cultivate a brand and reach prospective customers through social media marketing. For tips on leveraging technology to boost your business, check out these marketing tips from USA Today.

Making a living in the gig economy isn’t easy, but it is a path with many benefits. Before you set off for the world of self-employment, make sure you have a plan for how you’ll get your business off the ground. With tenacity and a solid plan, you can make the gig economy work for you.

Image via Unsplash

If you are unsure where to start of where to go next, call Susan at Your Books Accounting LLC – (202) 415-3088

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