The self-employed and the gig economy

You would be forgiven for thinking that not so long ago, the “gig economy” was a space for musicians and freelance designers to bid for their next piece of short-term work. Software enabled programs like ELance and Upwork were the minority, with most Australians in the dark about using the internet for work and new gigs, and focusing on the nine-to-five. All this has changed. Welcome to the gig economy!

The gig economy is now a prominent and lucrative business that is here to stay. It is a wide-spread global industry that promises a future of vested entrepreneurs and unlimited innovation.

Platforms such as Airtasker, Freelancer, and Speedlancer have opened the doors for many corporate high flyers. It is no surprise to see that many are now leaving their fixed hours and suit for a flexible work life balance, giving them the opportunity to start up a business where they can follow their passion and provide a host of consumer-to-consumer services.

This has turned the rules of business upside down, and for those of us moving over to the gig economy, there are new skills to learn.

In the traditional world of business, finding clients means a lot of networking, including self-promotion via social media. In the gig world, finding new business comes from mobile apps and online platforms that instantly pair both parties, based on the skills needed to get the job done – the real challenge is maintaining finances, and adjusting to the new working landscape.

If you want to give your gig business a chance to grow legs and succeed, we should look at what the successful people in this space are doing when starting out.

  1. Start lean

Lean, small, nimble and flexible are good things. It means you don’t need to outlay vast amounts, and in turn don’t need to make huge amount of revenue. Starting out lean means it’s hard to fail, and easy to succeed.

  1. Get professional advice

Many business owners try to cut costs by doing their accounting themselves. If done poorly, however, this can cause you a lot of headaches, unnecessary costs, and put your business at risk. Consult with a professional to determine the best structure for your business, and what level of reporting requirements you need to satisfy the ATO.

  1. Online and mobile accounting

No matter how small you are, there is no excuse or reason to keep track of your finances in a spreadsheet. QuickBooks Self-Employed (QBSE) accounting app is ideal for businesses that are not registered for GST but need to invoice on the go, track expenses and track mileage. Leaving the heavy lifting to your app means you can spend more time on your business.

  1. Track your expenses on the go

One of my all-time favourites.  It means I can forego the wad of receipts that are exploding in my purse, in between my car seats, on my dashboard, et cetera.… you get the drift!

With apps like QuickBooks, you just snap a photo of the expense on the go. No need to look at that receipt again!

  1. Separate personal and business

Always keep your personal and business finances separate, for both bank and credit card accounts. While it may be convenient at the time to buy your groceries on your business card, don’t make it a regular habit. Your business account is for business use. Applying this practice will save you a lot of time, and a lot of hassle!

By following these best practices, you’ll be putting your new gig economy business in good standing for the future, and keeping track of all that counts.

Lielette Calleja, Director, All That Counts

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