No money, no problem … just get gig-y with it!
Ok, horrible 90’s rap puns notwithstanding, we’ve noticed a trend. Well, we kinda noticed it a few years ago. Nammy was looking for her dream job in her dream city, Austin, TX. And as she was browsing through people’s LinkedIn profiles to see whom she could connect with, she noticed something funny. Virtually everyone seemed to have at least 2 jobs at the same time. But how was that possible? Did their employers know? Was that even allowed? And how did they have the time? Did they not make enough money? All questions a typical Indian person who had only known one type of job - the 9 to 5 kind that consumes your life - would have asked.
Once she moved to Austin, she was surrounded by people with multiple side gigs on side gigs. All her Uber and Lyft drivers had regular day jobs and drove in their spare time. Some did so for extra money, others did it to make contacts with VCs to fund their startups. Then there were her coworkers who, like her, wrote copy for a social media startup by day, and had side hustles that fueled their passion by night, whether it was working at bike shops, doing standup comedy, etc. For someone who came from a completely traditional, sheltered environment, this was a total eye-opener.
By the way, we have this episode on our iTunes Podcast if that's what floats your boat.
Eventually, Nammy had to quit her job in Austin and return to Houston. Pavi had just gotten laid off at the same time, so now that they were both unemployed, they wondered where their next paycheck would come from. And because they both vowed never to return to a stuffy office job, but to become entrepreneurs instead, they knew money was going to be an issue, at least for the short term. The idea of partaking in the gig economy was now seeming more and more appealing.
So what is the gig economy? It’s where people take up small side jobs off the internet, which might not bring in a lot on their own, but can collectively add up to a decent income. And it’s not necessarily just things like Uber and Airbnb. Even freelancers use sites like Fiverr or TaskRabbit to put their skills to use. Sometimes these can even develop into full-fledged careers.
The reason the gig economy has become so prevalent in the last few years is, for one, the internet. Secondly, the economy and the nature of jobs just aren’t what they used to be 50 years ago. In previous generations, people stayed at the same job or company for decades. Now, that’s virtually unheard of. There's’ no longer that level of job security, and technology has a lot to do with it, making jobs obsolete at a much faster rate than ever before. We’re not sure if this is cause or effect, but it also seems like people are increasingly rejecting the traditional 9 to 5 model in favor of something more flexible. And while the gig economy certainly has its drawbacks, the huge upside is that if you don’t have a monthly paycheck coming in, or if it’s just not enough to fund that future McMansion, you now have options! Here’s a look at what you can do:
Get in on shared economies: The best thing about shared economies is that it lets you reap the benefits of entrepreneurship without putting in the same amount of work or incurring the financial risks. It allows you to have control over when, where, and how you work, whether you want to drive people around, dog sit, rent out a room in your house, or do small odd jobs off the internet. Pavi herself continues to use Airbnb, DogVacay, and Rover to bring in a small but consistent monthly income that helps her pay the bills and stay afloat.
Capitalize on your skills: Say you don’t want to partake in the gig economy, you can still utilize your natural talents to either get a side job, freelance work, or an internship. A lot of times, the value extends far beyond just making money. For example, Nammy, who’s been a dancer all her life, decided to start teaching dance classes on the side. When she decided to make the switch from supply chain to a more creative field, she took on freelance work as a social media manager for small businesses so she could practice her new skills. This gave her something concrete to put on her resume and resulted in her getting hired for a social media position at one of the most sought-after startups in Austin. Similarly, Pavi, who had been an engineer throughout her career but wished to transition out, took up a business development internship for a startup so she could pick up new skills and learn from others in the startup world.
Barter your skills: Let’s face it, a lot of small businesses you approach can’t afford to pay you, but they’d be more than happy to offer you their services for free if you could add value in return. Often, these small businesses are so mired in their day to day operations that they don’t notice or have time for things like social media marketing or web design. Do your homework to identify their pain points and approach them with a solution if they can offer you something in lieu of compensation like a free membership if they’re a gym, or free coaching if they’re a career or life coaching company, etc.
Sell stuff online: And no, we don't mean Craigslist. Instead, opt for something more consistent and strategic like Ebay or Etsy. In fact, there are plenty of people for whom buying things at garage sales and then selling them on Ebay is a serious pastime. If this is something that interests you, just check out the plethora of YouTube videos about it, including this one by the inimitable Gary Vaynerchuk.
Ok, so if this is the first time you’ve heard any of these ideas before, then great! Can’t wait for you to get started. BUT, the more likely scenario is that for most of you, this is not new information, and yet you fail to act. Why? And what can you do about it?
Change your mindset: It’s so easy to make excuses for why you can’t make money on the side - “I don’t have the time”, “I don’t have the resources”, or “I don’t have the skills”. But we challenge you to call BS on that. Is it really that you don’t have the time or resources? Or is it something else that’s holding you back like maybe fear or ego? Pavi and Nammy definitely risk judgment from family and peers in India if they tell them they sit dogs or teach dance classes on the side. But you just have to brush it off. As long as you know you’re working towards something larger, and you keep your eyes on the prize, nothing else matters. Speaking of which …
Keep your eyes on the prize: If you do have a big, long-term goal in mind, make sure you don’t lose focus. The truth is, it’s very easy to get derailed when you have multiple side gigs. If you’re worried about your finances, it’s easy to want to take on more so you’re getting money coming in. But that can lead to some very short-term thinking. Remember, what you focus on grows. So if you’re working towards a specific career path or building a business, make sure to devote enough time to your main hustle. It’s a long-term investment, so be ok with forgoing a little bit of that easy money for now.
The bottom line -- if you’re unemployed or not making enough money to make ends meet, you now have a world of options. If you already have a main hustle, make sure to not lose focus, but if you don’t, who knows, one of these “side gigs” could actually turn out to be your calling, so go forth and explore.
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