The term “mini-CEO” is a hotly contested topic when you dive into Google. A few years back a bunch of think pieces, blogs, articles, etc. dropped, saying product managers should ‘think like a mini-CEO’ and folks in many industries were not thrilled. The inverse happened where a bunch pieces lambasting that notion dropped and soon, it was a war of ideas based on the perception of work, value and really – “does what I do matter?”
While this debate rages on in the form of blogs and LinkedIn meltdowns, there’s a different point of view, an angle that actually lends credence to the viability of the argument. Let’s flip the context: while they can make the argument about product managers till they’re red in the face, the true ‘mini-CEO’ is the gig economy hustler.
The Mini-CEO cares about the next frontier
The gig economy is changing everything. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry, and over 55M Americans are working for themselves by driving for Lyft, selling their artwork or crafts via Etsy, others find hidden treasures and flip them on eBay. There are even apps to do some quick warehouse work or grab a quick serving shift to make extra cash. People would rather have their freedom than stay plugged into a company they’re not into just to keep putting dollars into a 401K.
The central idea through the gig economy works as such: I either want to pick up some extra cash, or I want to be my own boss, on my terms. Some people don’t work well in an office setting. One of the most significant differences between freelancing and working for an on demand company is a different mindset: the grind of freelancing is exhausting. You’re always out trying to drum up business when there is none, but also working on new gigs when you’re wrapping one up. For all of the hard work and the freedom, it takes a special kind of person to be a successful freelancer.
Full-time on your terms
The other aspect of this equation is taking advantage of the gig economy and the plethora of platforms where workers can sign in and get to work whenever they want to. Today, a contractor is a broad term that’s not just for folks building a house. A contractor can create a website or install sprinklers in your backyard.
And this is why it’s important to think of oneself as a mini-CEO: If I’m calling the shots, then I decide how much or how little I’m working. Many in-house roles are gone. Look at any news publication outside the monoliths like CNN or the Washington Post, and everyone else is cutting staff and relying on freelancers to pitch stories. Companies of all types and sizes are changing up the team, with some calling themselves “agile,” meaning they can add and subtract a few workers by the nature of the project.
Consider this perspective: a gig worker is essentially a one-person franchise.
They get to be the boss but working in a system that works. If they’re driving Lyft and Uber all weekend, the gig worker is repping their brands, but they’re also in charge of the commitment. One of the best resources of the gig economy is that instead of hunting down payments like a typical freelancer has to, they get paid on time. Which, anyone who’s ever freelanced will tell you next to putting money aside for taxes, hunting down clients and keep track of payments is the worst.
For some people, they don’t want to deal with filing 1099’s and would much rather be on a W-2 that takes care of taxes and all of the red tape that goes into working for yourself. It’s a give and take, but depending on your need, either scenario can appeal to different people.
Being the boss has it’s perks
Because these jobs are working within the system, there’s a serious upside: they’re doing all of the promotional work, which saves the worker effort and money. Ten years ago, can you imagine the red tape we’d have to jump through if someone wanted to start delivering lunch to offices? People would be blowing up the landline for orders, and 90% of them would be missed.
It would be a mess. But instead, the companies have done the promotion and built the infrastructure to handle the processes. All the gig worker has to do is think about what’s essential: work/life balance or money. The mini-CEO is the boss, so they’re in control of the narrative.
Right now, depending on what a worker wants to do, the options are endless for booking gigs that can help get through the week. Best of all? If someone has other things they’re working on, they’re free to pursue those passions thanks to the culture of the economy.
As the ecosystem develops, there’s a lot to learn about the gig economy, but ultimately, the proof positives are there. The workers are in the driver’s seat literally and figuratively, the companies benefit from the quick integration of a team, and the apps keep changing how business is done.
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