Are you making the most of the gig economy?

If you’re not aware of what the gig economy is, and how it could potentially help you grow your business, now might be a good time to bring yourself up to speed.

Essentially, the gig economy is one in which workers move away from traditional, full-time, permanent employment and toward short-term, contract-based, assignments. This shift is already well underway, with credible estimates suggesting that 40 per cent of workers in the US will be independent contractors by 2020.

While there may well be challenges in attracting and retaining permanent staff as this trend continues, there is a very real opportunity now for you to be able to hire the expertise you need, when you need it, for as long as you need it.

As an example, consider the case of a growing small business without much sales expertise – the owner might be an expert in the field in which the business operates, but have little to no experience in developing and implementing structure and process around the sales function.

Typically, the solutions are either, or both, of engaging a consultant to provide advice on putting sales systems in place and training staff in sales skills, or hiring a sales manager as a permanent resource to perform that role.

I’m generalising, but the risks tend to be:

  1. that the consultant is just that – a consultant – who isn’t involved in the business day-to-day and whose impact is often therefore quite limited; or
  2. that appointing a full-time, permanent, sales manager is a sizeable financial investment, that generating a return on that investment typically takes considerable time, and that if the person doesn’t perform as hoped, there is significant disruption to the business.

A very viable alternative is to hire that sales management expertise in on a contract basis. There is a sizeable number of experienced, proven sales managers who’ve gone through redundancies and who are struggling to secure full-time positions in a tough economic climate. The potential exists to engage someone who, for example:

  1. could work on a full-time position for a defined period, to develop and implement sales processes;
  2. could be engaged for a number of days per week on an ongoing basis to ensure that the new sales processes ‘stick’ and that staff receive ongoing coaching;
  3. could be engaged to mentor a high-performing salesperson into the sales manager role for a period, and perhaps be available to that person as a coach on an ongoing basis.

It’s entirely possible that you’ll choose to appoint someone who starts with you on a contract basis, to a permanent role, but that raises another benefit – the opportunity to “try before you buy.”

While sourcing top talent is always tough, the post-GFC environment means that there are significant numbers of seasoned performers, typically from mid- and senior management backgrounds, available and seeking opportunities, across most business functions. You could be well-served to make the most of that potential.

Michael Simonyi, Senior Consultant, Davidson Corporate

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