Cerius Business Today – Leveraging the Gig Economy
In this episode, Pam Kristen speak to Alex Jewett from the Right Left Marketing Agency how to leverage the gig economy.
Pam: I mean I can remember standing at this conference and talking to people about what we do and they just didn’t get the word gig. I mean it was really funny because here’s some of the questions we got. I mean, you know did you misspell ‘gig’ and meant to say big? Big economy? What is gig? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Is it a word? And what else did we get?
Kristen: When we started off our presentation… so we did a presentation recently to a group of CEO’s and CEO coaches on how the gig economy can fill talent gaps. So first, we spent the entire… we were a little nervous, and we thought maybe it’s because we’re newcomers. We had the lowest registration for our presentation which doesn’t exactly give a vote of confidence. So we’re not sure if it was the topic or the first day of the conference, as we’re talking to people about it and thinking gosh, we really need to start marketing it and getting people to our presentation. About 3-4 hours into the day, it became very clear why we had so few registrants. No one had any clue what the gig economy was.
Pam: I’m telling you they thought we misspelled the word or we meant to say something else.
Kristen: They kept on asking, “So that’s short for gigabyte. So you’re a tech development company right.” Yeah, that was my favourite. Tech development for gigabyte. So it was—
Pam: When we asked our questions around the room for our presentation, “Does anybody know what the word gig means?” We got this deer in the headlights look.
Kristen: But it shows how much they appreciated our marketing the day before because they showed up even still not really sure what presentation they were showing up to.
Pam: We actually had a nice group there for our presentation there considering we didn’t think we were going to have many people to begin with.
Kristen: So to get the point across. Pam’s first slide made it hopefully perfectly clear and everybody got where the word ‘gig’ comes from. And it was? What was the first slide?
Pam: The first slide was a picture of musicians and you know think about musicians and singers and bands. What do they have? They have gigs. That’s where this whole word gig came from. So as soon as we showed that slide, it’s like “Oh!”
Kristen: “Oh, we get it now. It’s a short-term gig. I’ve got a gig to do and granted it could be I have an assignment to do and if you were to shorten the word assignment, what would it end up being, that’s exactly how it would go well. So, people, just freelancers just started calling them gigs. “I got a gig coming up. There’s a beginning and an end to it and I get paid by the project or I get paid by the hour” and it comes from the world of entertainment.
Pam: So it’s just really funny. I never even thought that people wouldn’t get it what the word ‘gig’ meant. I don’t know, I just automatically knew what it meant, but then again, I’m in the business so I guess that’s why.
Kristen: Yeah, we definitely get tied up in how familiar it is for us. Now, granted we spent the last 10-13 years trying to explain what interim executive is. And all of a sudden, Airbnb and Uber and Upwork and all those freelance marketplaces came online and we had an industry, a gig economy. We were so excited. We weren’t these solo alone, interim executive industry that doesn’t exist on any drop-down. We had an industry, we had a conference to go to. It was the gig economy conference. We were so excited that people would finally know what we do when we showed up and no one had any idea. Yet, when they came to our table and asked well what is it that you do, we do temporary and part-time executives. “Oh OK, I get it.” But unfortunately, it’s not easy to put a tagline of “we do temporary and part-time executives.” It’s not the sexiest thing out there.
Pam: Well you know it’s really if we hadn’t talked to the people the day before we gave the presentation, I’m afraid we would have had zero people in the presentation. Because really people were clueless.
Kristen: But once we started talking about it and they’re so familiar with temporary finance and part-time finance, but they didn’t realize it’s also used in operations and sales, and you started to go through the example of it and the benefits of it. It was surprising at how many individuals were so familiar with the concept because no one really knows what to call it.
Pam: Well you know they’re still getting used to the whole idea of executives being gig workers or freelancers. They’re just.. that’s still far-in to a lot of companies. Especially, in the small to mid-size market which by the way is one of the biggest market that use these interim executives. What’s the percentage?
Kristen: I believe it’s 82% of gig workers that are hired or used for companies under a 100 million dollars.
Pam: Right, I think it’s 82% of all revenue that comes in from all these freelancers. 82% comes from small to medium sized companies because they actually needed better than more of the bigger companies.
Kristen: So what were some of the questions we got on why in the world why not just hire someone full-time? Why am I using gig talent? My favourite is always, so I’m just hiring some executive that’s in-between or couldn’t find or is between a job right? So this is myth versus reality. The myth is so a gig talent at the executive level is someone who is just in between jobs right?
Pam: That’s what they think.
Pam: And they’re not. And another one we always get is “I have to own my executives. You know these are my team. The people I work side-by-side with. I need to need own them.” I’m like you don’t own these people first of all, and second of all, sometimes you don’t need these people long-term. Maybe you just need somebody for MnA, maybe you just need somebody for processes or maybe you need someone for cash flow or line of credit issues that you have. So don’t think you have to have these people long-term.
Kristen: I always like the comparison of owning a car versus leasing a car. And the number one place listeners listen to podcasts is in the car. So anyone who’s listening, you driving a car that you own or a car that you’re leasing. Leasing is popular for a reason. So think of it as leasing an executive that is usually one, you don’t need. Some people want to switch them out every couple of years or the car that they can’t really afford to own, so we’ll just lease it for a couple of years.
Pam: Yeah, but those cars aren’t the things that are going to screw up my business. One of the replies I got [laughs].
Kristen: Which is why I’m going back to the first point. Where I’m talking about, one of the things I get is “they’re just between jobs and they can’t find a job.” When you look at the gig economy and the individuals who are able to survive and build in the gig economy, these are not the sandy players. These are the A players. Because if you look at your roster of employees and you start ranking everyone A B C D, do you really think that if your sandy players were out on the market, doing short-term jobs for people that they would get asked back? That they would do a great job for getting more business for themselves and they would last very long. The reality is they’re not. It’s the A and B players, especially the A’s that are able to get out there and own their own business, keep their business, keep those repeat clients which is over 50% of most gig talent. It’s those repeat client. They do a great job. They’re the ones that are on the market. And we see that in the executive world as well.
Pam: Yeah, I mean they’re the talent that you can’t get. You can’t afford on a full-time basis. You can’t find because they’ve discovered their talent is very valuable and now they’re out selling it themselves because they can have their pick of the gig that they want. Instead of joining a company and I have to do whatever’s needed. They don’t have any pick there. They don’t have any choices there.
Kristen: I was surprised one of the number one conversations we had after our presentation was individuals coming up and talking about “I know someone who is currently hiring a COO.” Operations is big right now. Companies are looking to find efficiencies, they’ve grown too quick or the market conditions are tightening. They want to watch that bottom line. It’s currently looking to hire someone but it’s already been a couple of months and they think it’s going to take another 6-9 months. They want to take time to find the right person. Can you provide the minute? But meanwhile, they’re busting at the seams. They’ve got a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed and I think that they’re trying to ask for too much. I think that’s why it’s taking them so long. Can you bring them in an interim CEO who can help them get some initial things in place, and maybe narrow down that job description of that perfect CEO they’re looking for long-term.
Pam: It’s a great solution because then you don’t make a mistake. Because if you bring in somebody and it’s the wrong person, all of a sudden you’re doing things you really shouldn’t be doing or that person really ism’t delivering the results you’re looking for your company and instead of growing, it’s not going anywhere. You know it could be a disaster. So why take a chance and hurriedly bring someone in. Let’s wait those 8-9 months to bring in the full-time person and go with an interim in the interim to take it to a certain point.
Kristen: Yep. We hear that a lot. And we will go into that more in one of our next episodes on why do bad hires happen. That was a fun conversation. That was one where we had to cap everyone because everyone just wanted to talk about the war stories of all these individuals that they’d hired who didn’t work out and why they didn’t work out. That’s going to be a whole separate conversation.
Pam: We’ve got our own stories of bad hires.
Kristen: I think we definitely could lead the discussion on that one. So looking at the gig economy, no gig is not a technology specific term. It is not misspelled. It is not the big economy although it is turning into one of the biggest workforce economies out there. What’s the current statistic?
Pam: It’s about 38% of the workforce today are gig workers. And somebody asked me the question, is this going to turn into 50. It’s never going to turn into 50% of your workforce. I think it’s going to get a little bit higher than 37-38 which is I’m telling you that’s a pretty big number by itself. So think about a lot of those gig workers out there are really top talent that you can get anytime you need them when and where you need them rather than always having to on board and you don’t really need them all the time. So think about that.
Kristen: Top two lessons learned. One, it is a good solution. Lot of takeaways on how to fill the talent gaps and we’ll go into that more in the next episode. And two, as much as you think that you have an industry term, that everyone knows about and everyone will recognize, just remember us saying gig economy and you’re probably thinking what in the world is that. So when doing a presentation, so when doing marketing collateral, anything on your website, when you’re talking to someone, be careful of using any terminology that is not common knowledge.
Pam: Even though it’s in the news all the time. Don’t think that everyone knows what it means. They may be reading it but they don’t know what it means.
Kristen: Even though they may have seen the term or recognize the term or heard it, it didn’t click as to what is was. Or when they heard it, they were thinking “Oh, that’s a tech term. Oh, that’s a term that has absolutely nothing to do with me or what I need to know.” Gig economy. We’re getting it out there, little by little and interim executive. That’s actually become even more a popular term in our world than gig economy. I think we’re getting so many requests for it. I do need an interim executive. Start googling us, “I need an interim executive.” Which is wonderful. So maybe 5 years from now, everyone will know gig economy and…
Pam: And interim executives.
Kristen: And there’ll be a new term for us to start introducing. Who knows?
Pam: And by the way that’s spelled G-I-G economy.
Kristen: It is not an acronym. It is not G.I.G. That is simply gig. GIG economy and for any short-term, part-time, any kind of talent from receptionist to graphic artist to IT…
Pam: To attorneys…
Kristen: To attorneys to anything in the executive C-suite. It is a fantastic solution for filling talent gaps and getting incredible expertise for a project-by-project short-term, plugging bandwidth holes, anything you need. And any questions about the gig economy and how you can leverage it on any level, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. I forget I still need to spell Cerius. We’ve actually goten some people who’ve tracked us down saying I’ve tried spelling it 5 different ways. C-E-R-I-U-S. So [email protected] and until next time. Have a great business.