Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 15th 2018 Contents entreprenomics BG11
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Your next opportunity
n the traditional econ-
omy, a person would take
a job and hopefully turn
it into a live-long career.
This is what the Trinidad
dream is all about, you
get a steady long-term income and
you can build your home, own a
car (or SUV), raise a family and get
a secure pension.
But that is changing. There is
new economy on the rise; it’s
called the gig economy. You might
be part of it or may find it offers
the kind of alternate life style that
you might treasure.
What is a gig?
This word may have originated
in the music industry, maybe in
Jazz, where a newly formed band
would move nomadically from
location to location. They would
earn some money (but frequently
not much) and, hopefully, one day
a music executive would be in the
audience and offer them a record
contract. Then they become stars
with access to more marketing and
production resources to use their
The phrase “gig economy” is a
new buzz word. It is part of what
the economists would call the in-
formal economy; meaning it does
not get counted in the GDP figures.
People work temporarily, without
typical work contracts, but per-
form jobs frequently for compa-
nies that want to outsource some
part of their operation to lower
their cost or just looking for some
special expertise that they (firms)
do not possess.
Smaller firms or individuals
may outsource also. Think about
that IT technician you hired to
do some computer work, usually
a young person who is in high
school and needs some extra cash
to buy the next big software. She
is the one who works informally
in the shadow economy with no
office or business name but she
performs valuable work and larger
companies should take notice as
there is money at the bottom of
A good example is Uber and Air-
bnb. They “hire” people as inde-
pendent contractors to use their
underutilised cars or homes for
customers who want a short-term
arrangement, a lower cost alterna-
Airbnb hotel suppliers are not
part of the formal hotel industry
as would Hilton and Hyatt. Same
for Uber, the poster child of the
gig economy has created a differ-
ent market space or a blue ocean.
In a blue ocean you avoid the
bloodshed of the current players.
Change the game instead and com-
pete away from the established
Work has changed because of
some new drivers. The world is
moving to more services, ma-
chines and technology (think ar-
tificial intelligence and drones).
People want things faster and
cheaper (think Amazon).
This means the contract of em-
ployment has changed. We have
more short-term contract employ-
ees, temps, on-call employees,
independent contractors and peo-
ple doing PJs (private jobs). Some
employees moonlight, afraid that
their employers would object on
the grounds of a conflict of interest
or it will take away from their full-
time jobs. But this does not stop
the brave and the entrepreneurial.
On the workers’ side things have
The new worker doesn’t want
to spend all her time in one com-
pany. She wants new challenges.
Some millennials, and especially
the Generation Z (post millennials)
having mastered social media and
the internet, and like the advan-
tages that they can work to reach
their full potential.
Working for a company is for
their fathers and mothers. Their
office is their homes, at Rituals
or Starbucks or in their cars. The
new world of work is 24/7 and
work and play are the same.
When work becomes fun, it’s
when you do something you enjoy,
when you can create something
new, something that you could be
Here you can reach your highest
Work in transition
Doing jobs as a freelancer might
be good for the typical worker but
you might have a bigger dream.
You may be able to develop your
idea further, test the market and
then launch a business—this is
a different level. While this may
not appeal to the average person,
it may for someone who has his
sights on being an entrepreneur;
creating innovative ideas and test-
ing a new business model.
Starting as a solo entrepreneur
is normally where it begins—part-
time, doing gigs, when it gets
bigger, the feeling of self-sustaina-
bility becomes over powering and
then the internal debate starts.
• Should I leave my stable job or
things can go wrong?
An entrepreneurial mindset
will embrace the uncertainty but
balance that with calculated risk
taking. But it not so easy to launch
out on your own.
Gianpiero Petriglieri et al, re-
searched some of the ways inde-
pendent workers can survive and
thrive in the gig economy. Their
work published in Harvard Busi-
ness Review’s March-April 2018
issue and outlines the four types
of connections that can help them
with the challenges of an unpre-
dictable flow of work and emo-
tional issues that result from being
on your own.
1The first is place. Place is
where these successful so-
loists have designed so they can
work uninterrupted and help re-
duce the feeling of rootlessness.
Working out of a home office with
all the amenities of a workplace
office can give one the feeling of
being at work. These freelancers
have the option of designing it
their way, a luxury one does not
have in the corporate world. Cubi-
cle life can be toxic.
2. The second is routines and
having a regular pattern of
doing tasks like a do-list, a sched-
ule and making calls at a certain
time of the day, gives the solo
entrepreneur focus and a perfor-
3. The third is a sense of pur-
pose. Purpose is when the
entrepreneur takes work that is
aligned to what is important to
him. This creates a sense of ful-
filment and when the going gets
tough, the motivation is there to
complete the project.
4. The last is people. We are
all social creatures and even
with all the technologies to con-
nect, face-to-face connections are
still the best form of human inter-
The authors had one last piece
of advice: success in making it in
the gig economy requires viability
(doing productive work) and vi-
tality (feeling alive in one’s work).
Maybe the gig economy is the op-
portunity for you.
Sajjad Hamid is a SME & family business
adviser. He can be contacted via
firstname.lastname@example.org or at
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