I had the pleasure of moderating a panel session at Entrepreneur Anonymous about the gig economy. So I did some research. The USA, UK and Dutch figures are very interesting.
Figures from the USA
In the USA the number of freelancers is 53 million. That is 34% of the USA labour market. Intuit estimates that this proportion will grow to some 40% by 2020. A 2015 survey of over 1,000 American workers noted that about 60% received 25% or more of their income from freelance work. It is a $715 billion market in the USA.
Figures from the UK
There are 1.4 million British freelancers working across all sectors. This has grown 14% in the past decade. It is a £ 21 billion market in the UK. Apparently, 50% of people in the UK want to start their own business. Only 1 in 20 do. Which I think is tragic.
In Holland, the revenue commissioners only defined “freelancers” in the 80s. In 1988 there were 1800 of them. Now it is a 1.1 million and growing. That is 1 in 6 of the total Dutch labour market. In the 90s it was 1 in 17.
In 1994 William Bridges wrote “Jobshift” and predicted a fundamental shift in the labour market. He talked about the cake layer model of the labour market, with a winner takes all at the top and the rest serving the top earners. He has not been far off.
In my view, there is no question that the labour market is shifting. And that the future is entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur on the labour market or as an entrepreneur running their own business. The reasons I believe that is because of “Jobshift”, but also books such as Lynda Graton’s “Shift” and the must-read “Antifragile”
Job security does no longer exist
Company life cycles are getting shorter and shorter. Professor Richard Foster estimates that by 2020 more than three-quarters of the Fortune 500 will be companies that we have not heard of yet. Which suggest that job security does no longer exist, that we are all becoming portfolio workers and will be forced to change jobs on an ongoing basis.
Skynet is near
“The second machine age” predicts that 70% of all current jobs will disappear an that robots and IBM’s Watson will take over. Skynet is near and job security is an illusion.
Pension as an argument?
You will also live longer. If you believe in exponential change in health and technology, we all live to be far over a hundred. That is a long career and it will fundamentally change the current pension system. It will collapse. In my view, the “security” of a pension is also an illusion.
Build a long-term family business
Entrepreneurship, following your passion and your heart and building a sustainable business. And if you are smart you examine the German way of doing business and you create a family business that creates multi-generational long-term wealth.
Lots of questions
It raises a lot of questions. The definitions of gigger, freelancer and entrepreneur. I am not sure if they are the same thing. Is it for everybody? Will you have a choice? What about job security? Getting a mortgage? Your retirement? Your ongoing professional development? Stress, your health and dealing with financial insecurity?
I believe (I am aware I have used “believe” already 3 times and yes, for me entrepreneurship is a religion):
- That financial institutions will respond to this as it is a € 660 billion market opportunity in USA and UK alone (look at what RBS is doing with E-Spark and that is just the beginning).
- That the sharing economy will make it easier to sweat personal assets in so many ways, that we will all become giggers and have income streams on the side.
- That the gig, freelance economy will grow faster then most of us expect.
- That a race to the bottom is a real threat.
- That is could also create a winner takes all society.
Which is why I believe that basic income will become a reality.
The only question
The only question is how far you will push this, how secure you think you are at the moment (NOT) and how much control you want to take of your own destiny. At Entrepreneurs Anonymous, I pontificated that I regard myself as a failed parent if my children (Alice and Luca) do not become entrepreneurs.
What do you think?
I am really interested in your views. Aware that the above is a hotchpotch of facts and beliefs. As I said, for me entrepreneurship is a religion.