One of the great joys of working on a book is the opportunity to study and look into the lives of others who have experienced the topic of study. Some of the stories we became aware of were life-changing for those involved. One of the network television morning shows highlighted the story of a couple, professionals working full-time jobs who embraced gigs to accelerate the payment of debts. Most amazingly, their gig work, in addition to full-time jobs, made it possible for them to pay off over $100,000.00 in debt within eighteen months.
We believe it is important for gig workers to be clear on their purpose for working a gig. Gigs can and should be much more than the opportunity to earn a few more bucks. Working a gig without a purpose, we hypothesize, probably leads to spending more to do more.
The stories of those who work gigs to bridge the gap between the amount earned and the amount spent during a typical month are the foundation of the gig economy. Those who use a gig as a learning experience who have gone on to develop significant micro-enterprises are exciting! From cutting one yard at a time to becoming a multi-million-dollar enterprise maintaining the parks and landscape of a city is an example of stories that have become dreams come true. One of our most enjoyable interviews was with a successful direct seller who, after 30+ years of working and building her direct selling business, retires as a multi-millionaire embarking upon a new career of speaking and coaching others who desire to follow in her footsteps.
As we found the stories and met the people behind the stories, we also realized how gigs could be life-changing experiences. I can remember when part-time work was considered an indication that you were not earning enough on one full-time job. Because of our research, we know that a tiny percentage of the working population believe they are earning enough because they are spending more than they earn. With the emergence of the gig economy, the stigma associated with working part-time or doing something that allows flexibility and freedom in how work can be done is perceived very differently. Gigs have become cool.
This insight is important to understand because it can impact a company’s marketing focus, especially the purpose behind the income opportunities a company may create in the marketing and selling of its products and services when gig workers/independent contractors are utilized. As discussed in the book, we did not find enough of a focus on managing money. We believe that working as an independent contractor without purpose and sound financial management of the additional money earned tends to lead to higher turnover, shorter lifetime value, and loss of real customers who may even adopt a negative view of the brand when the person they had interacted with suddenly disappears. This evaporation of service that had been provided often confuses the customer; however, our observations and predictions envision a more serious gig worker who is learning to value the ability to control the working relationship and the value of the relationship with the customer. This will lead to continuous improvement that both consumer and gig worker will benefit from. The gig providing company will benefit because turnover may be minimized, productivity and lifetime value of both consumer and worker may increase as a result of the gig worker having a strong purpose for doing the work.