Numbers don’t lie.
- Already 1 in 10 workers belong to the gig economy.
- Intuit predicts there will be 7 million on-demand workers by 2020.
- That represents an 18.5% growth rate over the next few years.
- One-third of today’s full-time workers would consider switching to the gig economy.
Technology has made it easier for people to create their own freelance businesses or work in a series of short-term contract jobs. There’s staying power behind this trend. Accountants and bookkeepers would be wise to pay attention.
As an accountant, how can you support the gig economy? In turn, how can it support your business? Let’s explore some of the ways.
- Recognize it for what it is. Many pundits and economists treat gig work as a new-fangled business construct. In reality, it’s not so different from consultant work. The fees received may be smaller and the work projects shorter, yet successful gig workers see themselves as, and run their businesses as, consulting firms. Frame it that way and it’s easy to see how these entrepreneurs make a good fit as an accounting firm client.
- On-demand workers are new at this. For many working in the gig economy, this is their first foray into the business world. Many are looking for trusted business advisors to help them navigate the financial side of their business. They want and need accountants who understand their business and can offer far more than number-crunching and form-filling services. They look to your firm for tax planning, business planning, cash flow management, and even technology advice. If you’re prepared to offer that, then gig workers will make a good fit for your client base.
- Business is no longer constrained by geography. Just like many gig workers, accountants can now do business with anyone anywhere at any time. Once bookkeeping and accounting were geography-based businesses, pulling new clients only from their local neighborhoods. That’s no longer the case. Your clients can be located anywhere in the world. And to gig workers, the location of their accounting firm is irrelevant. They’re comfortable working in a virtual world without face-to-face interaction. This opens up the possibilities for growth of their business and yours.
- Immediacy is the name of the game. Mobile devices, the internet, and cloud access have made us used to having answers instantly at our fingertips. This immediacy of information has changed our expectations for customer service. We, as consumers, expect answers now. That’s true whether we’re tracking the delivery of an online purchase, want to know our current bank balance, or need to know the score of the game in which our favorite team is playing. Many gig economy workers are digital natives, meaning they’ve never lived in a world where information couldn’t be accessed immediately. They want that same access from their accountants too. With cloud hosting of QuickBooks and other apps, you can work with their real data, in real time, providing the instant answers they need about the health of their business.
The gig economy is more than a trend. It’s a new reality in the business world. Is your accounting firm prepared to serve this enterprising band of new businesses and entrepreneurs?