Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Angela Heath, the Gig Income Guru, @info4profit. Angela is an award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker and President of TKC Incorporated, an idea studio dedicated to guiding individuals and businesses in leveraging the gig economy, building the entrepreneurial spirt in the workplace and fostering platinum leadership development. She is the creator of the “happy hustle” culture and mindset and guides her clients to achieve phenomenal levels of creativity and accomplishment by transforming their thinking from employee to that of an owner and creator. For more information visit www.TKCIncorporated.com
SmallBizLady: The gig economy is getting a lot of press lately. What exactly is the gig economy?
Angela Heath: The gig economy is not new. Gig is a term borrowed from the music industry. It is basically contract work. You get a job, called a gig, that’s performed once at a specified timeframe. We used to call gig workers temps (remember Kelly Girls?). Then, we started calling gig workers contract workers, consultants or freelancers. The thing that has changed the game and created this gig economy is technology, which allows contract seekers to easily find opportunities.
SmallBizLady: Most people think gig workers are simply Uber drivers, delivery services and lower skilled jobs. How significant is the gig economy for small businesses?
Angela Heath: The gig economy, is becoming one of the most important tools for businesses to find talent. Right now, a third of all jobs are in the gig economy. According to a recent study, that’s 53 million Americans who contribute more than $700 billion to our national economy. Growth like this spells opportunity. More and more employees are getting exhausted with the traditional 9-5 grind for the man. Everyone is in search of freedom. The gig economy allows you to find the best contractors on their terms and within your budget. This economic shift bringing a global market within the reach of small businesses and no one needs to fly. ‘For example, my company has hired contractors from over a dozen different countries. Now we are exploring how we can move into some of these nations to grow our own business.
SmallBizLady: How can small businesses use the gig economy to grow?
Angela Heath: The gig economy allows small businesses to scale up and down according to their business needs. For example, instead of hiring a full-time employee (FTE) to complete a job requirement, small businesses can hire a contractor when a surge happens. After the skill set is no longer needed, the contract ends without any hassle or unemployment compensation required. In addition, the gig economy saves small businesses money because they are not encumbered with payroll taxes, benefits, etc. Partnerships are being formed through gig apps to increase both company capacities to go for larger contracts.
SmallBizLady: How can small businesses tap into the gig economy to find and manage talent?
Angela Heath: A small company can source their own talent online through traditional recruitment sites like Indeed, Glassdoor or ZipRecruiters or they can use gig apps to gain access to more gig workers. Most of the folks on job boards are looking for W2 jobs not 1099 work. Target sites that are set up for freelancers looking for project-based work. Many of the gig websites are expanding their business model to meet the needs of small businesses by offering support services throughout the contracting process, such as providing an employer of record relationship so companies don’t get hit with worker misclassification problems. They also help you onboard a contract worker, provide benefits, etc. Many can also serve as a central portal for all contractors.
SmallBizLady: How can small businesses tap into opportunities created by the gig economy?
Angela Heath: The easiest way for growing companies to find opportunities via the gig economy is through the online gig websites. A small company can source opportunities online or they can let the gig apps do it for them.
SmallBizLady: What are your favorite sites to help business owners find gig workers?
Angela Heath: My favorites are Fiverr for logos, graphics and music – I may not get what I want the first time but the prices are low enough to take a chance. I have a few favorite contractors there. I also like toptal.com because you can have a trial period working with a contractor before signing an agreement. LiveOps.com provides great customer service contractors. Namingforce.com is a unique resource for naming a company or a product.
SmallBizLady: How can the gig economy help small businesses scale? You say there are two ways:
Angela Heath: First, small businesses can purchase the support they need to meet their business requirements. The gig economy allows small businesses be a lot more agile, scaling up and down according to their business needs. A second way to scale is by offering services in the gig economy. When a company hits a slow period or is maybe pivoting, owners can go after gigs to level out their cash flow. For example, I know an owner of a communications firm that picks up writing gigs to level out cash flow.
SmallBizLady: How do you hire the best gig workers?
Angela Heath: The first step is internal assessment. Is this a project-based job or an ongoing operation function in your business? Project-based work is easier to manage using gig workers. If the work you need done is an ongoing key function in your business, be careful not to get into worker misclassification. Once you have decided you have a job that is short term, specific and calls for a skill set you don’t have in-house, then you need to write a scope of work. This will help guide you as you source the right contractor and help your consultant know exactly what the deliverables are. Decide who will be the contract manager within your company and make sure that person has the time to train and manage the contractor and respond to questions about deliverables. After you have done your internal preparation, then you are prepared to post the opportunity.
SmallBizLady: There are hundreds of gig websites. How to do pick the best site for your business?
Angela Heath: When you are selecting a gig site you can search for reviews, complaints and media coverage. You may want to look at specialty gig sites for specific needs. For example, 99Designs.com is a site for creatives and a good option if you need a logo, illustration or packaging design. After you have a short list of sites, examine how they operate. Many sites do not require any payments upfront, you simply pay a fee after your work has been completed to your satisfaction. Some sites have small business solutions, where you pay a monthly fee or pay for each gig you post, like Problogger.com and Dice.com. Each site is different so you need to read up on how they work.
SmallBizLady: How do you make sure you are getting the right candidate for your gig opportunity?
Angela Heath: Vetting a gig worker is the same as vetting any full-time employee. Evaluate their online profile by searching google, review their LinkedIn profile for recommendations. Give them a skills test or find out if the gig website has already done so and be sure to check references. The process is pretty much the same as hiring a full-time employee for a U.S. candidate. However, if you are considering an international candidate, your vetting may be limited to the social proof found on the gig website you are using and the portfolio they provide. Ask them for references too.
SmallBizLady: What are your best tips to hire the best talent for your gig opportunity?
Angela Heath: These gig websites have pretty sophisticated algorithms that match talent with opportunities. Many will create a short list of candidates for you to select from or you can also search on your own. You should vet any candidate. I have always found my best contractors when I take the time to explore how they work not just their skillset and track record. As a small business owner, I don’t have time to babysit. So, when I am reading the social proof, I am looking for keywords like self-starter, takes initiative, finished the project early, needed little hand holding, etc.
SmallBizLady: Can you give me some examples of small businesses that have started because of the gig economy?
Angela Heath: One of my favorites is Track.tax, a company that helps solopreneurs and small businesses manage self-employment taxes. Incluzion.com is another one. It’s a platform that connects companies with talented women and people of color. The Freelancers Union, is not new, but it continues to exist because of the need to connect freelancers with benefit and resources.
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