4 Ways to Start a Successful Gig Economy Business

Dog Walker - Gig Economy

By: Lucy Reed

It’s easier than ever before to start a business, thanks to the gig economy. Whether you want to provide short-term work as a consultant or services provider or do freelance work, you can build your own successful gig-based business in just about no time. The trick is zeroing in on a need in your area or putting your skills to work for yourself.

1. Turn Your Hobby or Interests into a Gig Economy Business

The gig economy is characterized by independent contractors providing services or work for the short-term. It’s an ideal environment for people who want to set their own hours and rates and have more freedom than a permanent position provides. It’s also ideal for entrepreneurs or people who want to start their own small business and achieve an improved work-life balance.

One of the best ways to get started in the gig economy is to transform your hobby or interests into a real business. For example, if you have a knack for painting, you could paint people’s homes for them. If you have an eye for decorating, you could stage people’s homes as they prepare to sell them.

If you prefer to spend time outdoors, you can start a gig economy business guiding people on hikes in your area or completing landscaping projects. Thousands of people offer their skills and services on TaskRabbit. Using a platform such as this helps you connect with more people looking for your particular skills, from housecleaning to completing handyman jobs.

2. Turn Your Love for Animals into a Gig Economy Business

Some people turn their love for animals into successful gig economy businesses. For example, if you love dogs, you could become a dog walker, dog boarder, or pet sitter. Regardless of where you live, people look for reliable animal lovers who can help take care of their dogs when they are away at work or on vacation.

Becoming a dog walker, for instance, is a perfect way to spend time with four-legged friends, spend time outside, and set your own hours and rates. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of getting exercise outside and reducing your stress by spending time with dogs. In fact, Time Magazine reports that spending time with pets is good for your mental health, and studies show that spending time with dogs can reduce your blood pressure in addition to reducing stress.

3. Create a Website

To get started in the gig economy, you’ll need to market yourself. One of the best ways to get more work is to provide an excellent customer experience so that satisfied clients tell others about you. Word-of-mouth advertising is free, and people are more likely to hire someone their friends or family members recommend.

That’s why you also should build a website for your gig economy business; according to Forbes, online customer reviews generate more business, and you want to help prospective clients find you by creating an online presence for your business. This includes creating a social media profile and keeping your Google business listing up to date. The more places that people can find excellent reviews about you, the easier it will be to generate more business.

4. Use Your Network

It’s also helpful if you rely on your professional and personal networks as you delve into a gig economy business. Independent contractors especially attract more freelancing work when they network. Make sure the people from your former permanent position know that you have started your own business so they can recommend you.

Use your personal connections to get information about projects before they go public so you can get in as early as possible. Go to Meetups, economic development meetings, alumni networking events, and career fairs to expand your network. It’s also a good idea to collaborate with others in the early days of your new business so you can tackle larger projects with more people.

You can start a successful gig-related business by focusing on your hobbies, interests, or love of animals. Build a website so people can find you easily and leave reviews to generate more business. Then, rely on your network to launch your business quickly.

Q&A with Leissan Sadykova

Leissan Sadykova

Leissan Sadykova is the founder and executive director of Advocates for Rural Community Health (ARCH), a not-for-profit organization that provides quality healthcare services to rural regions on a global scale.  Driven by her passion for healthcare as a human right, Leissan started ARCH while living and conducting research in Uganda for her master’s thesis.  Visit http://archruralhealth.org to learn more about programs and services offered.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and, like most people, was not fully certain about what I wanted to do.  I dabbled in teaching and was part of Teach For America when I decided to pursue further education.  I completed my Masters in Diplomacy and Military Studies from Hawai’i Pacific University, where I had an opportunity to travel to Uganda for my thesis research.  My emphasis was on post-conflict health sector development, and Gulu was the perfect case study, given its recent post-conflict status given in 2012.

I lived in Gulu, Uganda for about 6 months, conducting research and working at the World Health Organization conducting health center assessments.  Upon returning to the US in 2016, I started developing Advocates for Rural Community Health (ARCH), which combines my research results and passion.

What inspired you to start your business?

While working with the World Health Organization in Uganda, I conducted a health center assessment that allowed me to travel to health centers within Gulu District and assess the physical structure, the type of care provided, medicine stock-outs, and the overall functionality of the health center.

Each week, every health center is supposed to submit statistics to the District Office in order for us to track any potential outbreaks and other health needs.  One health center, in particular, Patiko Health Center, consistently missed these reportings.  I went to Patiko to find out why this was happening.  When I arrived it was pretty evident that this was a human capital issue.  In rural regions, especially remote rural areas such as those in Gulu District, there is a severe shortage of trained medical healthcare professionals.  There are about 1 physicians per 10,000 people.

We invited the District Office to join us when we returned to Patiko to provide additional training and support.  During this visit, the health center was shut down for a little over two hours.  As I watched the queue grow with crying babies, restless mothers, and sick patients all waiting in the blistering Uganda sun, I couldn’t sit in the meeting anymore.  I excused myself and mingled with the patients the remainder of the visit.  This was the moment I started developing ARCH.

I wanted to create something that addresses the human capital shortage and provides quality healthcare to rural regions.  Additionally, ARCH provides educational outreach programs including teaching proper hand-washing and teaching adolescent girls how to make reusable sanitary pads.  These are issues that the local population has identified and something ARCH can provide.

Where is your business based?

Business is originally based out of Reno, NV.  ARCH has a local office in Gulu, Uganda and I am currently working on opening an office in San Francisco.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

When I started my business, I had no idea what I was doing or how to go about starting a nonprofit business.  So I took opportunities to intern and sought mentorship.  I interned at the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, in which the Executive Director at the time was the founder.

Then, I just started.  I took it one step at a time.  Being a nonprofit, I had to make sure that I had something to offer donors since I wasn’t selling a specific product or service that donors would be receiving.  I registered the organization in Nevada and started fundraising.  I had a couple of crowdfunding campaigns to raise initial money and started recruiting medical students.  

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Being the biggest believer in your organization and talking to everyone.  It was important to believe in ARCH more than anyone else.  I was the biggest initial investor in the organization and the biggest advocate for our work.  Once I was able to see the results of what ARCH was accomplishing, then I was able to confidently share those results with others.  I reached out to everyone I knew and started to aggressively expand my network.  The most effective way of raising awareness is making sure that I always talked about ARCH because the organization produces results and it is essential to share that with people in order to raise awareness for the cause.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge that I faced was imposter syndrome.  I was truly scared of the potential success of the organization, especially on an international level.  So I played it small, and that does not benefit anyone, especially the population receiving our programs and services.  I started listening to podcasts for entrepreneurs, one in particular that I like is “Behind the Brilliance” by Lisa Nicole Bell.  I realized that imposter syndrome was more common than I thought.

To deal with this challenge, I sought out mentors and feedback early.  I also changed the way I viewed the organization and rather than keeping the focus on myself, I shifted and focused on what programs and services would benefit the community.

How do you stay focused?

Daily focus can be a struggle, and it’s important to develop a system to accomplish tasks even when it’s not your most motivated day.  I break down monthly and weekly goals to daily tasks.  Then it’s just a matter of discipline and knowing that things need to get done no matter how you might feel that day.

Additionally, I worked on developing my "why".  Why am I doing this work?  Why is it important?  Having a strong why can keep you focused on the most unmotivated day.  One ARCH campaign we conducted involved having local people write out what rural health development means to them.  I look at those pictures and am reminded of Patiko Health Center, and why this organization was started in the first place.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I focus on what ARCH can offer more so than that of our competitors.  ARCH is unique in that our medical student participants stay with local host families allowing them to understand the home culture, which allows them to be better physicians in the hospital.  They are also more integrated into the culture and can understand the health disparities better.  ARCH also provides support for public health centers and hospitals rather than private ones.  ARCH also conducts outreach programs to provide health education programs.  The two main ones are teaching hand-washing at primary and secondary schools and teaching adolescent girls how to make reusable sanitary pads using local materials.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Making sure that I am sharing the work that we are doing and talking about our work.  As straightforward as it sounds, sometimes sharing your work is difficult, and posting on social media does require a bit of time.  However, it has been very effective to share our work and even over-sharing sometimes.  If people don’t know what ARCH is doing, then people don’t know why their donation is important.  Scheduling social media posts, with platforms such as Hootsuite, makes it easier to plan social media posts and to post consistently to continuously engage the audience.   

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

The best advice I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to just start.  Start somewhere and make sure you are open to learning along the way.  When I first started, I was very hesitant and it took me several months to actually dive in and start sharing the work I was doing with ARCH.  That is wasted time.  I was caught up in making sure that everything I posted and every email I sent was absolutely perfect.  And that delayed a lot of the messaging and I missed a lot of opportunities because things were not “perfect.”  Do not focus on being perfect.  There will always be people who will judge your work and also people who will love it.  As long as you are following your passion, it does not matter what others think.

Do not get caught up in what is perfect.  Start somewhere, do something and learn along the way.  Try something new, then adjust as needed.  You have to start somewhere and remember that no one started something knowing exactly what to do.  And make sure you are sharing what you are doing.  You have to believe in what you are doing no matter what.  If you believe, then you can get others to also believe.  But do not be scared, and make sure you just start.  The details will come as you go along.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

App: Instagram – it allows me to stay connected with other people and share ARCH’s work

Blog: Nonprofit With Balls – huge resource for nonprofits; this blog has a ton of information for every category 

Book:  You Are A Badass – because sometimes we just need a reminder

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My favorite business tool is Google Keep.  It allows me to create different to-do lists and share with others so that we can work from one list and make sure everything gets done.  I work well with being able to organize different lists and having everything in one place.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Dr. Cat Begovic is one of my business role models.  As a double Board certified plastic surgeon, she started her own business and has a very strong "why".  I look up to her because she has a strong mission and keeps her audience engaged.  Her message is strong and incredibly inspiring.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Expansion.  I am excited to work with more medical schools to increase medical student participants as well as expand our programs and services to other countries including Ghana, South Africa, and Liberia.

ARCH is going to expand programs and services as well.  Our hand-washing program will serve more primary and secondary schools with at least 4 participating schools within each region.

ARCH will also implement and expand our reusable sanitary pads program.  This includes teaching how to make sanitary reusable pads to adolescent girls.  The goal is for ARCH to work with at least 4 schools.

How can our readers connect with you?

IG: @LeissanSadykova

Facebook: Leissan Sadykova

ARCH:

IG/Twitter/Facebook: @ARCHRuralHealth

 

TOP FOUR MARKETING SKILLS ALL ENTREPRENEURS MUST HAVE TO COMPETE

Basic Business Skills.png

When it comes to being a successful brand or business today, it's critical you have basic online marketing skills. But with so many tools and platforms available, how do you know what skills will be most helpful? Here are the four top skills you should have to make your business a success.

1). Facebook Advertising - Having a branded Facebook.com page is no longer enough. If you'd like to generate interest, traffic, and even sales to your website, you should know how to create an ad, refine your target audience, and how to run split tests to determine which ad generates the best response.

As someone who uses Facebook.com advertising regularly for my own businesses as well as my clients' businesses, I can tell which ad/offer will perform the best after about 200 clicks (or $150.00 ad spend). This is a great marketing tactic for brands that are on a low budget.

2). Social Media Marketing - If you don't understand social media marketing and don't have a strategy in place for your brand or business, then it's going to be difficult for you to build your name. Instagram.com, Pinterest.com, and Facebook.com accounts are must-haves for any visual business. Not only are they free to join, they're great ways to connect with prospective and existing customers, approach influencers, and increase search engine visibility.

3). Email Marketing - Although many marketing experts say email marketing is "dead", it's not. This strategy is an effective and low-cost way to generate additional revenue.

Running new promotions or product announcements is also a great way to stay in touch with your customers. You might also want to consider adding a "top tips" or editorial-like section to your emails. Check out the BobbiBrownCosmetics.com and Gilt.com email newsletters for ideas. Also, make sure your emails are optimized for smartphone and tablets.

4). Video - Video marketing has become a huge part of the digital space today. Brands such as Gucci.com and Chanel.com have mastered video marketing and you should too.

However, if you're a startup, then your brand most likely doesn't have the resources to allocate to commercial video production. Luckily, Instagram.com StoriesSnapChat.com and Periscope.com allow you to create real videos from your smartphone. These platforms are perfect for behind-the-scenes runway shows and photo shoots.

 

Why 1 Out of Every 10 Startups Will Succeed

Why 1 Out of Every 10 Startups Will Succeed

As a startup founder and the owner of three businesses, I know all about failure. I’ve made my fair share of really dumb mistakes throughout my career, especially in the early years; however, I’ve also been fortunate enough to learn from those mistakes and never to make them again.

And so, I’m going to share my insight on why only one out of every ten startups will succeed and make it see its second and third birthdays.

1). Strong Market Research and Target Audience Definition - The founders and business owners who have conducted the proper market research are more likely to have startups that succeed because they made sure there’s a demand for their product or service. They don’t spend weeks or months trying to guess what their market(s) want.

2). Product or Service Differentiation - Founders and businesses owners who have a product or service that’s different from the rest of the competition (it’s unique, better, or innovative), have a pretty good chance that it’ll sell, which means their businesses will probably be successful.  

3). Business and Marketing Planning - Smart founders and business owners plan each stage of their businesses. They have short-term and long-term plans including measurable goals and results. Without a plan, a business is more likely to fail.

4). Strong Leadership - Businesses with strong managers and founders do better because employees feel appreciated and, therefore motivated to perform better.

5). Scaling at the Right Time - Many business owners fail because they scale their businesses too quickly by hiring too many employees or spending too much money on marketing in the beginning. However, business owners and founders that control their growth are the ones that win.

6). Knowing the Numbers and Showing Profitability - Business owners and founders who know their numbers and show profitability are more successful than business owners who don’t a sense of their customer acquisition costs and the lifetime value of their customers. They also understand the differences between revenue and profit as well as know how to read financial statements.

7). Clear Core Values - Businesses with clear core values and communicate them through marketing are more often successful than businesses that don’t have them. Core values often times include honesty, transparency, integrity, quality, respect, among many others.

8). Business Owners/Founders are Accountable - Successful business owners and founders hold themselves accountable for their actions and write down their goals to make sure they stay on track.

9). Business Owners/Founders are Action Takers - Successful business owners and founders plan and then take action. They don’t let procrastination or perfectionism get in the way of launching a new product or service or growing their ventures.

If you’re in the 10 percent of businesses that are succeeding, we’d love to hear what you’re doing in the comment section below.

WHY YOUR CREATIVE VENTURE NEEDS A BUSINESS PLAN TO LAUNCH AND THRIVE

WHY YOUR CREATIVE VENTURE NEEDS A BUSINESS PLAN TO LAUNCH AND THRIVE

Did you create a business plan for your creative venture? If so, how long did you take you? What does it entail? If not, don't fret! You still have time to create one before the new year is here!

Your business plan doesn't need to be a formal 75-page document, but rather a one-pager that outlines how your business operates and plans for future growth.

If you're like most creative entrepreneurs, putting together a business plan can seem overwhelming and (even unnecessary in some cases). However, if you want to have a successful business this new year, then you need to have a plan of action.  

Be sure to ask yourself these questions before writing your next business or marketing plan! 

To help make the task less tedious, I'm going to show you how to create a simple yet complete business plan that you can create in an hour or less.

First, let's look at what business plan is and why you need one.  

A business plan is an overview of your business and generally, contains the following sections (each of these sections can be summed up in a paragraph or less). And you primarily need one because it serves as a roadmap for your business's future.

Business Overview and Value Proposition

Describe your business in one sentence. What makes your business different from all of your competitors? Remember, your business doesn't have to be completely innovative to be different, but it does need to be unique in some way.

Problem and Solution

What problem does your business solve or what gap does it fill? Why is there a need for your business? Explain the problem and solution in a paragraph or less.

Products and/or Services

What products or services does your business offer? What is the price range? How will your products/services be different from all of the competition? 

Target Markets

Who is your core customer? Include age, gender, occupation, household income, location, hobbies, and lifestyle (and whatever else is necessary to define your core customer).

Marketing Activities

How will you market your business? Will you use digital advertising, influencer marketing, public relations, social media marketing, SEO, blogging, guest blogging, podcasts, etc? 

Sales Distribution

How will you sell your products? What channels do you plan to use? Will you sell online or in retail? 

Management

Who is the boss? What are this person's qualifications? Who are the rest of the managers?

Financial Projections

How much money do you need to start your business? What will your salary be? What are the operating expenses?

Did you create a business plan for your creative venture? How long did it take? Share your comments in the section below.

Ready to craft your business plan for your creative startup?

Sign up below to find out the six critical questions you need to ask yourself before launching your business.