Self-Employed Entrepreneurs: The New Era Workforce

On January 18, 2017, CAMEO and Intuit hosted an invitation-only symposium to discover policies and solutions that will ensure that this economy works for everyone.

A tag cloud of microbiz oriented buzz words, like self-employed, workers, structure, struggle, and pay

You can read a summary and access resources from the day at “Self-Employed Entrepreneur: The New Era Workforce, Symposium Recap.”

Populated by familiar names (Thumbtack, Instacart, and TaskRabbit) and unfamiliar names (Honk, Lugg and Magic), the nascent on-demand economy is growing with hundreds of new platforms. The platforms and apps that are sprouting have inspired new thinking and practices. Lots of attention is being paid to how these companies are disrupting commerce, solving logistic problems, and creating a new sector of the labor force– and a new era of entrepreneurs. According to Intuit’s study “The On Demand Economy”, two thirds of these workers identify as entrepreneurs (and three quarters report being happy or satisfied with their status!). Couple that with a trend toward independent work and the words ‘work’ and ‘job’ take on whole new meanings.

According to The State of Independence report, a “conscious structural shift and recognition of a new model of work and engagement” toward self-employment is occurring. The number of independent workers grew from 15.9 million in 2011 to 17.9 million in 2014; a 12.5% growth rate that is much faster than the 1.1% growth rate of the labor force. Self-employment is a labor market trend with big economic impacts, generating $1.1 trillion in economic activity much of it local.

Today, the number of small business is growing exponentially – and it’s not because typical small businesses are opening more doors. It’s because of the growing numbers of self-employed. The concern is that while these trends may be good for some, they could result in a race to the bottom for entrepreneurs in lower/moderate income sectors. The challenge is to help this population manage their multiple income streams so that they can survive and thrive and achieve viable incomes—and ultimately create wealth.

CAMEO’s role is to help our members navigate and serve this new cohort. Our first step is to hold a symposium to discuss the specific challenges do self-employed entrepreneurs face that prevent them from thriving; how we create opportunity for this sector; and what an ecosystem would look like that might support the success of low-moderate income small business entrepreneurs.

Lots of people have been researching the gig economy – here’s the latest insights as of October 2016.

  • Institute for the Future published Voices of Workable Futures: People Transforming Work in the Platform Economy. They interviewed 31 on-demand workers and identified seven archetypes of the on-demand economy, and describe what entrepreneurs, policy makers and platform developers need to ensure success.
  • To better understand the independent workforce and what motivates the people who participate in it, the McKinsey Global Institute surveyed some 8,000 respondents across Europe and the United States. The resulting report, Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy, finds that up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work.
  • In its third year, ‘Freelancing in America‘ is the most comprehensive study of the independent workforce. Commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork, this study analyzes the size of the growing freelance economy and provides insights into the lives of independent workers. This year, we examined the potential impact of freelancer voters on the 2016 presidential election.
  • Etsy released a new policy paper – “Economic Security for the Gig Economy: A Social Safety Net that Works for Everyone Who Works“. The paper outlines four federal policy proposals that Etsy believes would would bolster economic security for the 21st century workforce.