Solopreneurs: The changing face of business

The line of distinction between freelancers and solopreneurs who constitute the gig economy, is rather thin; while the former works for others by means of contracts, the latter’s goal is to build up a business with services and products of their own.

Interestingly, the gig economy profession is emerging as a promising employment solution for students, professionals, workers with less skills, retired persons, and for women preferring to work from home due to family responsibilities.

While there are no formal studies, the gig economy is generating roughly 56 percent employment in India and is expected to grow 25-30 percent per annum. The turning point has proved to be the startup culture which has effectively ushered in change in people’s mindsets as, in India, permanent jobs are coupled with social status. This has paved the way for wider acceptance from blue- and white-collar workforces.

Economic slowdown, organizational downsizing and cost-cutting have given a fillip to the gig economy given its flexibility, choice, work-life balance and good remuneration vis-a-vis a stressful full-time job.

As HR professionals are hurrying to revise their manpower planning strategies, areas such as Content Writing, Translations, Creative works, Recruitment, Sales, Digital Marketing, Branding, Software development, Architecture, BIM, Accounting, Data Analytics, Consulting, Counselling and others are typically emerging as gig jobs.

A spin-off from the gig economy has been the proliferation of shared workspaces, which though still populated by large enterprises, startups and SMEs is seeing a steady rise from freelancers.

There are four attributes that Solopreneurs need to imbibe to remain ahead of competition. They will need to be fast and flexible in their work life and be open to respond to queries outside business hours. Building a reputation of quickness, promptness and flexibility can be crucial.

They also need to define their own visual identity to extricate themselves from being a “face in the crowd” or be labelled a generic. A definite brand identity helps create attention and establishes a sense of security amongst clients. Support services already exist which help create business identity branding like customizable websites, email signatures, business cards and document designs. Investing in a strong, polished visual identity is one of the best investments a solopreneur can make.

To be able to accept the limitations of one’s size and capacity, should lead Solopreneurs to focus on their niche areas of work. It is wiser to focus on providing exceptional service in fewer areas than providing mediocre service in many areas.

At the end of it, it is the ease of doing business with Solopreneurs that will be comforting for customers and will create traction for the long haul. Simplicity in transacting business is a good customer retention tip since convenience is the preferred choice of millennials. In essence, quick, easy, and pervasive are the three magic words for Solopreneurs success.

Solopreneurs have also woken early to the importance of brand-building of their services. With detailed planning, flexibility and consistency of service, they are already leveraging their outreach through their website, blog, podcast, record videos and posts to social media in an effort to provide excellent and memorable customer experiences.

Solopreneurs have already sparked quite a bit of thought in the labour law market relating to their status, pay equality, leave pay, medical benefits, severance pay, death at work etc vis-a-vis a formal worker, with the industry grappling to establish adequate laws amidst progressive judicial rulings from Courts of law.

As the trend progresses, these issues will be addressed by the Government, workers and customers. Meanwhile, this appears to be a good time to be a solopreneur.

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