Before we examine the way larger companies approach strategy we’ll look at the apparently not so well understood gig economy. They call themselves consultants, advisors, experts, mentors, coaches, trainers, financial consultants, psychologists, therapists, insurance advisers and many other things. I am one of them. A small business in which the owners do the work. They provide personal attention, depend on contacts and, above all, survive on trust. Some make a living out of being non-executive directors, other’s become plumbers, electricians, gardeners. If you work but are not employed by a corporation owned by others, you are in the gig economy.
Your purpose is still critically important but you may not necessarily grow in order to survive. You may want to be on your own, accepting the hazards that a partnership or limited liability company help to mitigate. A high proportion of partnerships fail for quite simple and predictable reasons. If you are thinking of starting a partnership make sure you get help to establish how the formal relationship between partners should be structured and updated.* Friends have a poor record of falling out when they become partners.
Strategy for a gig is not complicated.
The six rules outlined in the Daily Paradox of 08Jan18 apply. Customers – at least the early ones – are generally defined more narrowly in a successful gig. They will be people in your network. If not themselves customers they will introduce you to likely prospects. You will be tempted to devote time and money to the name, registration and admin needs of setting up a business. Let a professional do that for you. Your product or service is well defined and you must launch it. Don’t worry that it will need changing as you go along.
One of the foremost rules of a gig is “get on with it”.
You must concentrate on the essentials.
No 1 is Marketing to customers.
Your whole business is an experiment so try to sell your wares to someone you know and who won’t buy just out of sympathy.
- If you know them well enough ask them why they are buying (or not, as the case may be).
- Learn from them, they are your best source of information.
Early approaches to customers are likely to be on a one-on-one basis. You will learn most this way. Never stop thinking about what you are selling. Like everything else in the world, the needs it aims to satisfy are changing. What you sell must change with them.
You may use the social media to market.
Millions of gigs have succeeded through Facebook, Linkedin and a host of other like media. While you can get someone to help you with them, treat your early work as personal learning. The better you understand the social media, the more effectively you will use them. Remember that you have two jobs to do when selling. The first is to attract attention, but in the right way. The second is to retain that attention for long enough for the message to be absorbed and understood. Keep your approach to customers simple.
Everyone who builds a gig needs to pay attention to pricing.
You will have done your homework about competitors. You will have concluded that you are unique. This is a mistake. Many people are claiming to offer the same as you. Getting your pricing right will be difficult. You want to charge as much as the market will bear without having to reduce your prices. Start on the high side, don’t reduce prices but make what you give increasingly worthwhile.
Your greatest allies when you are starting a gig often turn out to be your suppliers.
Get friendly with them. They can help you avoid the worst pitfalls. If you treat them well they will help you. Ask them about the market and how it is developing. Of course you will want the best terms you can get. Remember that is what they want, too.
Learn this mantra: ‘Negotiate toughly, settle liberally.’
It’s the best bit of advice I was ever given about buying and selling.
To connect with John Bittleston:
British businessman, author, columnist and Singapore Permanent Resident, John’s career spans Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and International Management.
Business Mentor and Career Coach to over 7,500 Clients
- Chief Executive of Singleton Pte Ltd,
- Chairman of Wiglington and Wenks Worldwide Pte Ltd
Author of “BONES – Business Organisation Notes – Executive Section” and “The Book of Business Communications Checklists” as well as four children’s books “The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks”.