The gig economy -- you’ve no doubt heard of it, this emerging realm of side-hustlers creating all kinds of business opportunities out of thin air, leaping from one to the next like some kind of trapeze act.
Plenty of writing will lead you to believe this is an all-new, disruption-era circumstance brought on by a change in, well, everything. But everything old is new, as they say, and is there really all that much different between the gig economy and old-fashioned entrepreneurialism?
Not really, says Peter Tassiopoulos, vice chair and president of Sphere 3D, a Toronto-based technology company that makes it possible for incompatible devices and applications to run over the cloud without sacrificing performance or security and independent of operating systems or hardware. Peter Tassiopoulos has led or served as an advisor to all kinds of startups on everything from management, strategy and funding to innovation, and in that way, has participated in a gig economy of sorts for years.
Businesses -- good businesses -- have always hustled to innovate, to lead, to find new customers and to make sure the ones they have are growing along with them. This idea that the need to be nimble, to be sharp, to recognize opportunity before it arrives is something new – in many ways, that’s been how successful businesses have operated for a long time.
While it’s true that, in Canada, freelancers, independent contractors and consultants make up as much as 30 percent of the workforce, the skills and ideals -- persistence, ingenuity, selling yourself and adaptability -- are nothing new to the seasoned entrepreneur.
“Gig work may very well be the preferred choice for many workers,” wrote economist Linda Nazareth in the Globe and Mail recently. Millennials, however, are surprisingly conservative in their views of the gig economy. In a Price Waterhouse Coopers survey, she wrote, only 33 per cent of those under 34 said that they had a strong desire to go that route.
“Still,” she wrote, “workers of all ages accept that independent work could be their future, with 53 per cent of those surveyed expected to be self-employed over the coming five years.”
While technology had changed at an almost unimaginable rate, the core elements of success are durable and time-honored: What can you bring to a client, or a customer, that no-one else can bring?, Peter Tassiopoulos comments. How adaptable are you? How quick? How much are you willing to acquiesce to really absorb and enable a client’s needs and point of view? Tassiopoulos adds that nothing about that is new. If you can put all those things together in a compelling, responsive package, you’re in good shape.
Published by Kaushal Shah