Mastering the Gig Economy – Get Money!

By now, we all probably know someone by now that is working as an independent contractor for a Fortune 500 company by day, working as a freelance writer on the side, hosting a podcast, and designing flashy party invitations using their amazing graphic designer skills. This is 2016 and you are witnessing a day in the life of a gig economy professional.   In the world of entrepreneurship and business, they say that the average millionaire has seven streams of income. Now, whether or not you’re trying to become a millionaire, or if you’re simply striving to live a comfortable life, you can’t deny this statement gives you something to think about. In today’s comfortably post-recession world, and one where an increasingly unstable future looms, securing multiple streams of income has never been more important. We could even venture to say that multiple income streams are an absolute necessity in order to secure long-term financial stability.

The Gig Economy

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For many millennials, or people with parents who relied on the typical path of success—college, good job, stay until retirement—multiple streams of income can sound like a daunting task. Sure, you could dive head first and get into investing, stocks, real estate (and if you can, you should), but there are things that you can do that are easier, have a dramatically shorter learning curve, and you can get started pretty quickly. Thanks to technology and the internet, people today are more connected than ever. And while we all enjoy mindlessly scrolling Facebook, Netflix, and chilling, our tech and digitally obsessed world have opened up doors and windows of opportunities.

You may have stumbled across the term on Linkedin or maybe you have a deeper understanding of what the gig economy is, but for the people in the back, let’s dig into the details. The gig economy is a way of working where companies hire independent contract workers for short-term projects and, in many cases, long-term engagements.

Does all of this sound like some futuristic world of work? Well, it’s not as far off as you’d think. Deloitte University completed a study earlier this year that says, one in three US workers are freelancers and that number is expected to increase to 40% by 2020. That is just 3 short years away. The gig economy has been steadily trending upwards over the past couple decades and increasing faster than traditional employment. And while there are some industries that seem specifically tailored to succeed in the gig economy—think freelancers and other service providers—this type of work expands over into other similar economies like the sharing economy with companies like Uber, Airbnb, and co-working spaces.

Getting Started with the Gig Economy

Now that you have a bit of background on the gig economy, it’s time to get started. Here are a few tips to help you start off on the right foot.

  1. Dont reinvent the wheel. Joining the gig economy doesn’t have to be—and shouldn’t be—a stressful process. Many of us are looking to join the gig economy to reduce our stress, not add to it. So start by doing contract work that comes easily to you by simply thinking about the things you are already good at. Take inventory of the skills you’ve learned at your day job, some courses you may have taken, and even the natural talents you possess. Use these as the foundation of the services you can offer to businesses that are looking for skills like yours. If you are a programmer by canstockphoto20895072day, it is fairly easy to see how you could turn that into additional income after hours. I know talented graphics artists that have turned their skills into extra cash by collaborating with small businesses and organizations that don’t necessarily have a need for a full-time graphics team.
  1. Find a platform. The gig economy has grown increasingly popular because of digital technology. Now, more than ever, there are so many platforms and websites that make dipping your toes into contract work easier than ever. Set up a profile with the skills you’ve identified above on sites like Upwork, Cloudpeeps, Fiverr, and Freelancer. I have used Upwork myself and I have to say that I’ve worked with some great creatives that I most likely would not have access to in a traditional work setting. These platforms are great for services across the spectrum – marketing strategies, logos and branding, website and app development, administrative tasks, and the list goes on. If your gig is rehabbing furniture or jewelry design, platforms like Etsy are most likely where you’ll find your target audience.canstockphoto25839433
  1. Get to work. You know the saying that the easiest way to do something is to just do it? That applies ten-fold here. This is an opportunity for you to learn and grow along the way. You’re working on your terms, you’re making up the rules, and you’ll reap the benefits. Don’t get hung up on traditional employee ways of thinking – in fact remember that the gig economy rewards those that hustle. In the gig economy, maybe even more than in traditional employment environments, networking and establishing a steady pipeline of work is important for success.

 

How To Level Up

Once you’ve found your spot in this gig economy, you will want to level up. Here’s how:

  1. Create a personal brand. Once you’ve gotten into the flow of your work, the gigs are pretty steady, and your name is out there as a freelancer, it’s time to start thinking about creating a personal brand. Your next step will be to make sure you have your social media profiles intact, create a solid portfolio of your work to reference, and set up a website that showcases your services and some of your best work. Do not underestimate the reach and impact of tools like Twitter, Facebook, and more importantly LinkedIn. I can tell you from personal experience that each post that I connect to my LinkedIn profile increases my weekly views by at least 50%. So again, share and showcase your best relevant work.
  1. Establish yourself as an expert. The great thing about the gig economy is that companies, brands, and businesses are looking to outsoucanstockphoto17856575rce their work to experts. And they are willing to pay for that specific expertise. You may have taken on a bunch of random gigs to supplement your income but as you think about leveling up, you’ll want to be positioning yourself in whatever niche, industry, or service you provide. Write blog posts and share them on your website and LinkedIn. Join twitter chats about and connect with colleagues in the same space as you. Keep your skills fresh and attend industry events.
  1. Pay Yourself. One of the best parts about creating a personal brand and establishing yourself as an expert is that it directly impacts that rates you can charge. As you level up, the gigs you land will level up as well both in size and budget. Don’t be afraid to increase your rates as your expertise increases and save aggressively. One of the main reasons that many seek opportunities in the gig economy is that it gives them the opportunity to work when they want, allows them to take on projects and work that have more personal meaning to them, and in lots of cases quickly build a portfolio or body of work. With each gig, project, or client, you’re learning more about your industry and gaining valuable skills. Regularly revisit your bill rates and make sure that you are getting your money’s worth. The gig economy can be unpredictable and you will want to make sure you are prepared for the ebbs and flows that may occur between opportunities, or just to be able to take a couple of weeks off without worrying about being able to pay bills.

The time for joining the future of work is now. Even if the gig economy isn’t a long term or sole option for you, use it to supplement your income. Let it fuel your retirement fund or college savings for your children. You could even let it fund your travel account. The point is, as our governments and economies change, it’s smart to adapt and grow with them. Plus, a couple extra coins along the way is always a good thing.

5 People for Your Personal Board of Directors: Becoming a Boss

Anyone who knows even a little about me knows how much I absolutely love Ted Talks. In a weird yet inspiring way I am practically obsessed. If you are not familiar with what Ted Talks are they are often hosted by many inspiring everyday people, celebrities, thought leaders or just people who have unique passions that they want to desperately share with others.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing a Ted Talk by Gary Cohen who discussed the importance of being the CEO of your own life. This thought provoking Ted Talk reminded us all that we are essentially the CEOs of our own lives. He went on to discuss that as the CEOS of our own lives we are tasked with the responsibility to set the visions and strategies for the lives and careers we wish to obtain. As a mid career woman contemplating her next career and life steps this idea is not foreign to me. I thoroughly enjoy the work I do as a professional, but I’m not fully convinced that this is what I want out of life. I enjoy the work, but there’s no burning passion in the work I do on a daily basis. In Cohen’s powerful talk, he cautions us that without a strategy and vision for your life, you will never achieve your life’s potential.

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As I began to take a moment and contemplate Mr. Cohen’s talk I decided to embrace his perspective as CEO of your life. However, for me to fully embrace and operationalize this concept, I recognize that I need HELP! Guidance, direction, and a sounding boarding in making key decisions for my next level.

It’s no surprise, most CEO’s rely heavily on the support, intellect, and guidance of a Board of Directors. A board of directors is intended to insure the success of an organization

through its influence and direction over the company’s decisions and operations. Who are the essential members for your personal board of directors? After talking to a few colleagues and mentors that I trust, here’s what we came up with.

  1. A Sponsor – A sponsor is a person of influence that can openly advocate for you. This person is usually a senior executive and is at the table when key decisions are made. Sponsors have the ability to use their influence to help high performers obtain opportunities that will give them greater visibility, access to more career progressing roles, and necessary network building and soft skills development. As women in the workplace, it is vital to cultivate relationships with potential sponsors because we are often less likely than our male counterparts to organically get access to the individuals necessary to grow our careers. Having a sponsor in your corner could not only help you secure new opportunities but it could give you a logical voice when faced with making difficult decisions.canstockphoto5544623
  1. A Coach – If you have ever watched any sporting event you realize the importance of having a coach. A coach does not get in the game to play for you; however, a coach does give you and teach you all the things necessary to be able to win whenever game time occurs. This is no different in the business world. As women we often know exactly what we need to do in order to be successful but sometimes we simply struggle with how to execute the things we need to do. A coach will do just that for you. They will prepare you for big meetings, big decisions, big opportunities to insure that when opportunity knocks you are able to willingly open the door with no hesitation.
  1. Connector – How many times have you talked to that friend that seems to know everyone? I have a friend just like this, if you need an app developer, a loan officer, or a connect in the local mayor’s office you know to call her. As women striking out on their own and start their own businesses, having someone like this in your corner is priceless. In addition to being a connector, this person is likely to have some knowledge about up and coming business deals or opportunities because of their strong network. If you’re working for a large corporation or organization, a connector can help you grow your network within the organization and help you navigate some of the landmines that you may run into. A connector also has the capability to help you train and polish your skills as you prepare to embark on your next networking event.
  1. The Truth Teller (your tough love advocate) – The truth will set you free, is a quote I canstockphoto37091294have heard time and time again. While the truth can sometimes be painful, it is in truth that we obtain liberation to become better as women and as leaders in the workplace. As many people try to climb the ladder of success, there will be many who are afraid to tell you the truth in fear that it will ruin your business relationship. Having a Truth Teller in your corner is by far one of the best investments you can make in yourself. It will help you on days your ideas are too far fetched and will keep you humble on days you feel as if you are becoming untouchable.
  1. A Cheerleader – Everyone needs a cheerleader in there corner, everybody. A cheerleader is that one person in our corner that believes that we can do anything, we can win, and we can achieve any of our goals. The cheerleader is someone that can encourage you on your best day or your worst day. The cheerleader’s energy is canstockphoto41215514infectious, and besides being genuinely interested in seeing you succeed, they are also just plain fun. Whether you need to connect on a career issue or not, you can realistically just be 100% real with this person. In most cases, I’d recommend a cheerleader that is not part of your day-to-day work environment. However, if you do enlist a colleague as a cheerleader be careful about any office politics and sharing sensitive information. You want to be candid and open with your cheerleader/friend but you don’t want to compromise any confidences.

A few things you may want to consider when pulling together your personal board of directors(especially as a woman) is to make sure that all of the members of your personal board directors are not women. The world is not comprised of only women and having all women on your team may give you a skewed outlook. Of important note, your relationships with these directors should be mutually beneficial. Relationships should never be one sided and any relationship, business included, that is will never be successful. Remember, your cheerleader, sponsor, truth teller, connector and coach should all benefit just as much from you as you benefit them.

Finally got your board of directors together? Good. Go pay it forward and play a role on someone else’s board and watch everyone around you flourish like never before.

Who is on your board of directors? What have you learned from your board??

How to Find Everyday Savings ($50, $100, or even $200 a month)

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A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a colleague while we talked about our recent annual raises. We were complaining (more or less) that our raises were basically non-existent when we factored in other changes to our work-related benefits. Our health care premiums are sure to increase this cycle as well as one of our primary reimbursable expenses, cell phone reimbursement, was decreasing by about 50%. We were both trying to figure out how to increase our emergency savings and create more of a cushion in our personal finances. I couldn’t help but remember some of the very basic things that I’d learned from a personal financial advisor several years back when I first graduated from college.

When I finished college I had an extremely difficult time establishing an emergency savings account, whenever I got paid I would pay my bills and use the remainder for fun money- like all of it! I just couldn’t get into the habit of saving money and leaving it alone. With the help of a financial advisor and her tough love, I managed to save about $4,500 over the course of the next year. The tips she shared with me were not necessarily easy, but they were goal oriented and, over time, seeing the results made it easier to make the day-to-day sacrifices necessary to save.

 

  1. Start saving something!

Start saving at $50 a month by cutting your non-essential expenses. These expenses are the daily things like Starbucks coffee, takeout lunch, and weekly manicures/pedicures. Now notice that I didn’t suggest cutting all non-essentials. Sometimes we find it hard to stick to a savings plan because the cold turkey approach can be overwhelming and discouraging.

Processed with VSCO with c8 presetA tall latte at Starbucks is currently about $5, coming in at $100 for the month. If you cut back to just 3 lattes for the week you can easily save $40 a month. Over the course of a year you will be able to add $480 to your savings account.

We all know that the cost of eating out daily can quickly add up. You can easily spend $50 in one week on lunch. Takeout lunch is one of those non-essentials that I, personally, would eliminate cold turkey (but that’s because I’ve found that I’m usually in a rush for lunch so leaving the building to find a decent lunch takes a good amount of time.) But if you’re a takeout junkie, at $10per lunch you will spend $200 in a month. (Yes, that much!) This is about the cost of a ½ salad, ½ sandwich deal at Panera with a beverage.

So what should you do? Again, this article isn’t about totally cutting yourself off from things you enjoy. You could allow yourself 1 takeout lunch per week and pocket the savings. That will result in saving $160 in a month, and in a year you will have added $1,920 to your savings account.

Ladies, we love our manicures and pedicures. But let’s be real, an average salon charges $50 for a mani/pedi combo and, if you are doing that weekly, you’re spending $200 a month. This is an area where I would be extremely miserable if I could not indulge myself in this therapeutic service on occasion, but I would limit my mani/pedis to every 2 weeks OR get a nail kit and make it a DIY project. This will result in savings of $100/month and $1,200 for a year. Either way, I’m not suggesting that you walk around with busted feet! J

Other non-essential expense areas that could save you a few dollars are hair salon appointments, concessions at the movies, and happy hours.

Key takeaway: start somewhere!

  1. Review your bills

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of reviewing your non-essentials for savings opportunities, go through your recurring bills (cable, cell phone, utilities, auto insurance, auto-renewing membership plans) to find more savings opportunities. Many of us are so accustomed to the auto pay feature that our service providers have so “graciously” put in place that we forget to actually review these bills. LOL. Well, this month when your bills come in take 20 minutes and review the details of each of them. I am quite certain you will find some areas where you are spending unnecessarily.

A big one for me was my cable bill, with five televisions in the home and a channel package with more than 300 channels, I knew there had to be a way to save some money. I decided to get rid of two cable boxes (savings of $12/month) and reduce my channel package from the Extreme HD to an Essentials package, this will save me $30 a month, for a monthly total of $42. Over the course of a year that’s a total savings of $504. Since I’m not a huge television watcher anyway, this was a painless change for me, but I know that for some this is a big deal.

What I suggest for those with children or sports fanatics in the home is cutting back to an essentials or basic package and then add on the sports or family pack for $8. Besides, by now, everyone knows that Amazon prime includes the added benefit of free streaming of movies and television shows, so if you already have Prime, consider buying the FireTV stick and fire it up.

This past summer was super hot and it seemed it was excruciatingly long. My electric bill averaged $150 from May to July, and then suddenly in August it spiked to $196. I was less than thrilled. So I immediately reviewed the settings on my automatic thermostat and increased the hold temperature by several degrees for the daytime hours when the house is empty. That resulted in a September bill that I could live with. On October 1st I turned the A/C off for the season, at that point we were still getting days where the temperature hits 80 degrees, but most days I could get by with opening a window for cooler air. Over the course of the year, my savings averages out to be about $20 a month or $240.

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Reviewing your auto insurance is another area where you may be able to find savings. I’m not suggesting you decrease your coverage terms across the board, but I am suggesting you consider your package and determine what makes sense for your situation. Review your deductible and increase them to the highest amount you can tolerate, if your deductible is $250, look into increasing it to $500. Additionally, if you have extra coverages such as mechanical breakdown coverage, really challenge yourself and ask if this is necessary. If you have an extended warranty on your vehicle, more than likely than not, you don’t need this duplicate coverage from your auto insurer. This review of your insurance can result in savings between $20-40/month or up to $480 for the year. Additionally, once your car has reached a certain age, weigh the value of full coverage insurance versus liability coverage. This can result in savings of another $100 for the year. Please review your coverage carefully and do what is best for your situation, I am not suggesting that you have bare bones insurance coverage that leaves you exposed to other financial issues.

Key takeaway: Review your recurring bills and look for saving opportunities, make sure you are not overpaying for services that you are not using.

  1. Saving in space to make extra cash

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The last suggestion on how to save money lies in an area where you can find some significant savings cushion.

All of us ladies have accumulated clothes, shoes, and handbags that we no longer love. I know several people who swear by eBay but, personally, I’ve never had the patience to be a seller on eBay, so that wasn’t a real option for me. However, there are several high-end consignment shops in my city and I’ve had great success gathering up my gently used items and selling them at the consignment shop. I had a pair of Frye boots that I paid about $300 for and wore just one season. When I took them in for consignment I got $100 for them. I’m sure they were going to polish them up, maybe do some light work on the heel, and put them back on the shelf for about $175. I also sold a hot pink leather Coach wallet for about $40. The bonus here is that you’re decluttering and making money!

Key takeaway: you will not get anything close to what you paid for these items, but in lots of cases you will make a few dollars and it’s better than letting these goods wither away in the closet or just throwing them away.

Share your tips for finding extra savings !

How to Self-Promote in a Business Setting (Hint: Without Looking Pushy)

Women have, without question, come a long way in the corporate space. However, no one can argue that we still have a long way to go; the gender gap is everywhere- from compensation all the way to the C-suite. To even begin an attempt at tackling our minimal presence in the C-suite, we first have to gain traction in the mid-level ranks.canstockphoto16512731

I think most of us by now have read the article about women working in the Obama Administration and their meeting strategy called amplification. In which they offer a great tip for one very specific situation; if you’re in a meeting and there are other women who can help you get your point across – then great- try amplification. However, it only works for that particular situation.

This still leaves one big question unanswered: in general, how do you self-promote in the workplace on a regular basis?

Self-promotion is something that women need to embrace and own if we want to progress in the corporate space. We are so quick to defer to the team or highlight the accomplishments of others. Think about it: how many times have you completed a tough assignment and when you get some acknowledgement for your work you say, “it was a team effort”?

Guess what? Your boss probably already knows that, they know that you worked with a team, you gave direction to the team, the team executed a strategy, and the team accomplished the intended outcome. What you may not realize you’ve just done with your compliment deferral is essentially tell your boss that you don’t own your worth. With knowledge of self-worth and comprehension of what you bring to the table, many other opportunities will follow.

If you want that promotion, a meeting with the CEO, or an opportunity with a potential client, you will need to own your value and be able to make a case for yourself. Waiting for someone else to recognize your worth is a waste of time. Say it with me: “I will make a case for myself.”

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So, just how do you make a case for yourself?

  1. Know your industry

It is generally understood that you need to know your profession in order to be recognized as a professional. To be credible, you must know what you are talking about and be able to execute your job well.

Staying on top of industry trends is a great place to start; know where the marketplace is heading, and what that means for your company or your clients. Keep your skills fresh by attending conferences and continuously learning in your free time. Keeping your skills relevant not only means that you will be continuously bringing new and fresh ideas to the table, but it also means that you’ll be confident when you’re talking to your company or clients.

Key takeaway: don’t settle for your current skill set, expanding them makes you that much more valuable.

  1. Practice for meetings canstockphoto16511044

Practice talking about your achievements. Before heading into a meeting, think about the purpose of the meeting and your perspective on it. Think about how you will contribute to the meeting and hold yourself to doing just that.

When walking into a meeting, don’t shrink back. Instead, sit at a prominent place at the table. (Now I’m not suggesting that you take the President’s seat at the head of the table.) What I am suggesting is that you sit near the center of power – you literally have to position yourself as an expert to be seen as such.

Key takeaway: own your position, know you’re worth it.

  1. Learn how to take credit and compliments

Taking credit for a job well done can feel a bit uncomfortable and awkward. Instead, we want to be seen as likeable and usually downplay the effort it took to get the job done or try to shift the attention away from ourselves. We will often speak to all that the team did to support the achievement – because we seem to believe that team playing is the way to the top. It isn’t. Women will share credit. Men will take the credit without thinking twice. Why? Because being likeable isn’t a thing for them.

So how do you learn how to take credit? When given a compliment, graciously accept it, acknowledge that it was a tough job, and thank the giver for acknowledging your work. Will it be easy? No, the first few times you will likely need to bite back the urge to downplay your accomplishment. However, it will get easier.

It will make it that much easier if you practice paying it forward; take note of what your team members have done to get the job done and acknowledge them for it in their own right.

Key takeaway: understand that, yes, it was a team effort- you are also a part of that team- and you deserve to feel good about your accomplishments!

If you want to succeed in the workplace, you will need to get comfortable bragging about your contributions, owning the value you bring to your company, team, and clients. Self-promotion does not have to feel awkward, use the tips above to get you started.

Comment with your own tips!

Welcome to BossChix Network!

We are mothers, sisters, daughters and we know that our realities are not found in TV screens, but our realities are formed through our actions, our investment in ourselves, our families, and our communities. The BossChix Network will celebrate the women who are holding down their families, building up their communities, and making names for themselves in their own way.

You might ask, why do we need a BossChix Network? Here are but a couple of reasons:

  1. As women, we need to be more open about how we’ve accomplished and achieved the successes in our lives. It’s no secret that it takes hard work, but it often takes much more than that. It does take a strong network, it takes a safe space or an “executive board” as I like to call it, where you can share your doubts, get feedback on some of your strategic tactics, and in general seek and give support.
  1. More of us could be successful if we shared a Blueprint kind of strategy. One of my favorite women is Melinda Gates. She’s well known for unending passion and commitment to women and girls across the globe. She’s quoted as saying “When you get women in roles of leadership, we make things happen. It takes us using our voice, and it also takes us making investments, huge investments, in women and girls.” She is known for her philanthropic efforts for women in developing countries, but I have to believe that in many ways this quote applies to all women, and particularly to us as women who have some measure of success. I owe it to more junior colleagues to share my probably not so unique experience of navigating corporate meetings with IT developers where I was often the only woman and certainly the only woman of color. My hope is that by sharing my story and how I faced the challenge of often being viewed as the “note taker”, she will not hesitate to speak up for herself as I once hesitated.21910907593_031f378521_z
  1. There are not enough images of successful everyday women being promoted. If you’re not a celebrity, aspiring to be a celebrity on some level, or somehow in the entertainment industry then it is increasingly difficult for young girls to find images and paths to model successfully.

So BossChix Network will aim to make investments in women, by sharing our stories and blueprints, by serving as a resource for self-improvement, an outlet for solutions to many of the unique challenges we face (both serious and minor) and finally a positive space where women can support each other. All topics won’t be so deep and esoteric, lol! We will have fun here also, we have tips on how to Travel like a Boss, Entertain like a Boss, personal finances, and taking some of the chaos out of hectic living. Join us on this journey, it will be worth it!