The gig economy accounts for more than one third (35%) of the U.S. workforce and is expected to continue growing in the coming years. This means that currently, 55 million people are self-employed—in many cases working as freelancers, temporary workers, independent contractors, or sole proprietors.
Who are these people? They’re a pretty varied group. Although we may associate certain jobs such as freelance writers and Uber® drivers with the gig economy, this contingent of the workforce also includes tradespeople who work for themselves, professionals working on short-term contracts, and temporary workers.
The gig economy includes many MSPs. If you’re a one-person shop, or your operation consists of yourself plus one or two part-time workers, you’re part of the gig economy.
And you’re far from alone. According to CompTIA®, more than 200,000 self-employed and sole proprietors work in some capacity related to the IT channel. What percentage of that number consists of MSPs isn’t clear, but it’s no secret that many managed services shops consist of one-person operations or businesses with no more than two or three people.
So the first thing MSPs need to understand about the gig economy is that—in many cases—you are part of it. And as such, you are helping to mold it. Every time you sign a new contract, add services to an existing account, send out an invoice, write a check to the IRS for quarterly tax estimates, and pay your utility bills, you are helping the gig economy thrive.
This means that in many ways you’re on your own: you have to build your own business and pay your taxes and overhead, but in some important ways, you aren’t. You are heavily dependent on your clients. Their success is intrinsically tied to your own. The better you serve them, the more successful you’re likely to be.
When you run a single-person operation, there may come a time when you will need outside help to run the business. Running a business by yourself is tough, forcing you into roles in which you’re not comfortable, such as accounting and invoicing, marketing, sales, or even clerical work.
When that happens, you can turn to the gig economy to help fill the gap. Perhaps you need a systems engineer for only two days a week, a bookkeeper twice a month, or a secretary for a couple of hours a day. Or you need a writer or marketer to help you craft your business message so you can attract new clients.
Having the flexibility to contract someone’s services as opposed to a full-time hire in many cases could be the only viable option. This means you can participate in the gig economy in more than one way—by being part of it and by leveraging what it has to offer.
And that’s why the gig economy matters to MSPs. You are contributing to it, and in doing so, helping to redefine success.
Pedro Pereira is a Massachusetts-based writer who has covered the IT channel for two decades. Recognized as one of the first journalists to cover managed services, Pedro continues to track, analyze and report on the IT channel and the growing MSP partner community.
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