Has all the hype about the so-called ‘gig economy’ got you down? Indeed, what does this oft-repeated term really mean, or, more importantly, what does it mean for you? With workers’ rights being eroded in the ever-changing employment landscape, could becoming a direct selling entrepreneur be the best way to beat the gig economy?
The global gig trend
The word ‘gig’, previously synonymous with gigging musicians, seems to suggest something of a positive, upbeat nature, connoting benefits for all concerned – flexibility for contractors, reduced employment costs for companies and on-demand convenience for customers. However, as recent reports suggest, this is far from the truth. In reality, the control is often firmly in the hands of companies, with workers classified as independent contractors and therefore forfeiting the right to sick pay, holiday pay and frequently earning less than the minimum wage! Not so much a flexible arrangement benefitting all, as a return to Victorian standards! Indeed, recent landmark court cases brought by workers in the gig economy have highlighted such issues. However, a 2016 study shows that this gig economy is a global trend, and, perhaps worryingly, a previous study also suggests that it is here to stay, forecasting that by 2020 as many as 40 per cent of US workers will be independent contractors.
Of course, the appeal of the gig economy for some, such as students, those with family commitments to work around, and others supplementing their full-time income, is the flexibility gig work affords, but ‘affords’ is the key word here. As a stopgap, fitted around your life, there may be no harm in such work, as long as you can afford it. However, as a long-term solution, there is little joy in zero-hour contracts and low-paid, ad-hoc work. So what’s the best way to stay ahead of the trend and earn a decent income, if you’re looking for flexible work? Well one way to take back control is to turn to direct selling, or network marketing as it is also known. In fact, building a booming direct selling business is becoming an increasingly popular choice in an economy which could otherwise see you working long hours for peanuts in dead-end ‘gig’ jobs. In fact, according to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) Annual Report 2016, there are now over 103 million entrepreneurs involved in direct selling worldwide, a figure which is up 4.4 per cent on the previous year. As Lynda Mills, director general of the UK Direct Selling Association says, ‘Direct selling is becoming more mainstream and offering a whole range of people a real alternative to traditional employment’.
Benefits for budding entrepreneurs
Indeed, if you are a budding entrepreneur looking for flexible work, the direct selling industry offers the chance to run your own business, during hours to suit you, with affordably low set-up costs. Crucially, you can also pick from a wide choice of products to sell, and find a company with a compensation plan providing income to suit your pocket. However, rather than selling the traditional cosmetics or kitchenware, there is another option to consider – you could actually gain valuable training in entrepreneurial skills while you sell, and thus increase your chances of business success. Learning Enterprises Organisation (LEO), a global entrepreneurship training and education company, offers the training needed to boost your entrepreneurial skills while you market its products – perfect for the inexperienced, yet savvy, entrepreneur with an eye to the future. In addition, LEO also offers a variety of ownership award programmes that help its members achieve their dreams to own a successful business of their choice.
Diversity not discrimination
An added benefit of the direct selling industry, is its ability to provide a level playing field for all, as anyone can dip their toe in the entrepreneurial pool by starting a direct selling business. There is no discrimination on the basis of gender, race, educational background or age. In fact, the importance of diversity is especially embraced by LEO, which includes ‘diversity is empowering’ as one of its five core presuppositions. Indeed, Dan Andersson, President, CEO and Co-Founder of LEO, says: ‘At LEO, we aim to educate and empower entrepreneurs whatever their age, gender or nationality’. This is in marked contrast to rather disturbing evidence found in recent studies that racial and gender discrimination is rife throughout the gig economy.
Fun, flexibility and freedom
Of course, like most things, success in direct selling is still dependent on the will and determination to work hard and succeed. However, on the plus side, you could actually have fun while you do this. With a large amount of business now carried out via social media, the direct selling entrepreneur with a good grasp of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter has the world at their feet. This certainly beats spending hours in the cold delivering food in a ‘gig’ job. In fact, with an app for everything nowadays, you no longer have to even be tied to your PC. For the ultimate in flexibility, you can just run your direct selling business from your smartphone. Interestingly, with its finger on the pulse, LEO has a range of apps to help its members run their businesses on the go, including the LEO News app, providing up-to-the-minute information straight to your phone, and is set to introduce its innovative Smart 3.0 App in 2017. This groundbreaking business tool will help manage the recruitment process, provide business-building guidance and deliver rewards when milestones are achieved, all at the touch of a button, wherever you are!
So, in a world where the gig economy looks set to stay, becoming a direct selling entrepreneur could just be the best way to take back control, plan for your future and perhaps find a little fun along the way!