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The River de Nile

Recently there has been a spike in the number of people entering the workforce as self-employed freelancers. Whether by choice or force it is imperative that any new-found gig founders don’t make the mistake of believing they can simply pivot to doing what they did before (i.e. as an employee), only in this case as a self-employed freelancer /consultant in the gig economy. The latter is not a pivot, it’s a river in Egypt called de Nile.

Unlike most forms of employment, sustainable consulting or gig work requires adding value (not just task completion or problem solving). What’s the difference? Problem solving is where a person gets paid to do some activities most commonly called a job; adding value means: if it was not for your unique contribution, the outcome would not have been possible. The latter is a much higher threshold. If an outcome is/was entirely possible in-house but for whatever reason has been outsourced then, by definition, the service being sought is being sought to be cheaper, not better. Volume-based cheapness is sometimes called a race-to-the-bottom and while the latter may achieve an organization’s cost cutting objective, does it achieve - your - the gig worker’s sustainability objective? Do you really want to compete in that market? Competing in that market is like taking a pay cut every year in a salaried job, a slow, painful exit from corptopia. My point is, if you cannot articulate in a crystal-clear manner how and why your value proposition is truly unique to you AND adds unique value for your client, you don’t have a value proposition, at best you have a purchase order.

Take it from someone who has been in the eye of the pivot storm three times in their career, a personal mission or purpose which says, words to the effect, ‘jack of all trades’ translates to mean - ‘master of none’ and a master of none is called hobby, not a business or business case. To all the future unicorn founders seeking to be the next Thomas Edison, Walt Disney or Bill Gates… get that mission, vision and purpose right at the very beginning, otherwise be prepared for a very expensive hobby to unfold.

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