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Whole U. Masterclass: The Gig Economy - Featuring Diane Mulcahy 

 

At long last! Society is realizing that the “typical” 9-5 office job is not the ONLY option to build a successful career. Creative job seekers are recognizing that there are other routes to fulfillment - namely “The Gig Economy” - which allows people to: 

  • Find outlets to express other talents
  • Capitalize on passions and skills 
  • Build additional/ multiple streams of income
  • Impact the world more deliberately 
  • Have more freedom

To learn more, the Whole U. community spoke with an expert . . .  (who literally wrote the book on the subject!) In addition to being the author of The Gig Economy, Diane Mulchahy is an advisor, professor, and a contributor to publications like Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. (Full conversation linked below).

Diane defines the “Gig Economy” broadly, as -

“Anyone who is not a full-time employee at a full-time job is a part of the gig economy.”

From hairstyling to woodworkers . . . regardless of industry - you are a member of the gig economy.  

Our Changing World  

During the pandemic of 2020, the gig economy has only grown in strength and numbers. Diane explains that many people are transitioning into the gig economy out of necessity - caused by: losing jobs, being forced to pick up something new, and an overall shift in the demand for services. 

With remote work, people have more flexibility in their schedules, and are realizing that this newfound free time can be well-spent adding sources of income. 

(Image source: Embroker.com)

Yes, it’s really possible.

Whether out of necessity, or by choice - it is possible to establish a successful side gig (or gigs). Diane shared the story of a friend who was working at a nonprofit for over 10 years, as a full-time senior manager. Realizing there was a lack of opportunity to grow in her role, she left, and started consulting, lecturing, and serving as a university affiliate - moving from one full-time job . . . to three separate gigs. The growth she craved is now in her OWN hands, and flexibility is her new normal. 

Diane provided another example - of a recent college graduate who was working full-time, while also running her own small retail business. She decided to quit her full-time job, start a family, and remain in the gig economy. Since making this decision, she continues to build a portfolio of clients - helping small businesses with their marketing strategy, PR & social media. She loves the flexibility to work when-and-where-ever she wants . . .  (especially with a baby!)

Overcoming Blocks 

Many people dream of having a side gig that fulfills their creative AND financial goals. But, making that transition can be daunting. Diane says that the most common reason people don’t start a side gig is fear. Starting something new, quitting a job, and investing in yourself can all make people afraid. So Diane recommends to:

  • Get confrontational with your fear.
  • Write down the "worst-case scenario" that could happen as a result of creating a side gig.
  • Break down your fear and evaluate it. This will allow you to see whether or not you feel the change will really be worth overcoming your fears. 

A few other tips to consider:  

  1. Risk is often a necessary part of advancement. 
  2. When you first start out, it’s likely you will be your own boss, AND your only “employee.” To be successful in the gig economy, an “entrepreneurial spirit” is a must.
  3. Having the drive to build something on your own takes a lot of experimentation (and therefore, failure). Those mistakes and “dead-ends” are NOT wasted . .  they simply serve to inform you how to move forward. To avoid feeling demoralized every time something doesn’t work out, it helps to take initiative, and be disciplined. 
  4. You must be passionate about your gig and remind yourself WHY all the hard work is worth it. 

How to Start Gigging 

What?

Another block many members of the Whole U. community expressed having early on - is narrowing in on, and deciding what TYPE of gig to focus on. The question "Where do I begin?" is a common one.

Diane suggests starting simple, and asking yourself three questions:

  1.  “What do I enjoy doing most, that I am also good at?” 
  2. “What interested me when I was young?” These early passions could hold clues to opportunities for new businesses. 
  3. “What do people come to me for?" This can be in your career or your personal life. Just because a skill isn’t in line with the work you’ve been in so far, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make for a successful side gig!

The gig economy often involves turning your passions, hobbies and interests into something that can be monetized. As adults, we often fall into a rut, of being comfortable rather than fulfilled. 

When?

In terms of timing when to start your side gig, Diane recommends beginning a new venture while you're already in a stable job, if possible. This affords you security to take initial risks.  

To minimize risks in the beginning, you want to:

  • Use this time to experiment, and test different services and prices before you rely on your side business for all of your financial needs. 
  • Be frugal with your business and your own budget, by living below your means. 

In time, you will witness the growth of your business, which will eventually allow you to quit your full-time position all together. 

Whole U. Community “Challenge of the Month”

People without a side gig: 

  • Determine what your side gig will be.
  • Think creatively.
  • Write down 5 ways you could implement a side gig into your schedule, and what it would look like.

People with a side gig already: 

  • How could you improve your side gig? 
  • Write down 5 ways you could make it your primary source of income.

(Now go do it!) 

 

Next Steps . . . 

As we continue to navigate the changing employment landscape, the gig economy is becoming a "new normal." Accelerated by the pandemic, Diane predicts that:

“The workforce will look like the gig economy: Flexible, Independent and Remote. It’s impossible to go back to the way things were before. ” 

Want more freedom and fulfillment in your work and finances? Diane advises to:

  • Get clear on what you want - in line with your values and priorities
  • Always have a side gig - even if it isn’t bringing in a full salary (yet)
  • Create an “exit strategy” from your full time work - to protect yourself in case of . . . the unexpected (which is certainly upon us!) 

 


To learn more about Diane’s work, visit: https://www.dianemulcahy.com/

To learn more tools to start working in The Gig Economy (and read 10 rules of succeeding in the Gig Economy) check out Diane's book:  

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