Profit Minded

Most think entrepreneurship would be more satisfying, but won’t risk it

People have been talking about the “gig economy” ever since Tina Brown pointed out in the Daily Beast in January 2009 that no one she knows has a job anymore. Giganomics is the term she coined for the strategy of earning an income piecemeal through as many part-time jobs, consulting contracts, or freelance assignments as it takes to meet the monthly financial commitments that a full-time job used to satisfy.

Brown didn’t make gig work sound like much fun, and she suggested the new economy was turning former salaried professionals into hustlers “doing three things badly.”

Fast forward nearly five years, and there are many more workers and employers participating in the gig economy, as well as numerous platforms—including Fiverr, Hourly, eLance, and oDesk—designed to help them find each other. (Although it is worth pointing out that some of the platforms have been around much longer than the term gig economy). A recent Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Fiverr asked 1,800 “employed or employable” U.S. adults to share their perceptions of the gig life. In short, while many see gigging as a greener pasture than full-time employment, most aren’t ready to jump in.

Most respondents believe that becoming their own boss would enable them to work their own schedule, and more than half think they would feel more satisfied as an entrepreneur. More than 60 percent feel that their talents and creativity are not being used to their full potential in their current jobs. And more than half agree with the statement “my current financial situation does not enable me to provide for myself/my family like I would like to.”

But when asked, “How likely is it that you would you quit your job to become an entrepreneur getting paid for your skills in the gig economy?” the majority (56 percent) say “not at all likely.”

Why? Their answers about what they imagine being your own boss is like tell it all. Most do not think they would enjoy work more, or make more money, or have a better work/life balance. (On the other hand, only 3 in 10 think they’d have to work harder as their own boss.)

Plus, they’re comfortable. Fifty-six percent of respondents agree that they feel they have financial security in their current situation; 77 percent feel very productive on a set work schedule; and 72 percent are satisfied with their current work schedule.

The thing about the gig economy is that most who wind up working in it didn’t make the choice to jump in. They were pushed. Another interesting bit of research might be to ask those who are now paying the bills and even socking away retirement savings with gigs if, in hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened. I know I’m not the only would say “heck, yes!”

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