According to a recent study by Inuit, the gig economy is on track to grow to 43 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020. We're living in the era of side hustles, perma-lancing, consulting, and self-employment.
While some pine for the security of a full-time job with benefits, you may see the gig economy as a golden opportunity to do things your way, on your own time, preferably in your pajamas, and exercise complete control over your business. There's no denying that as you strive to launch, grow, and maintain a sustainable and successful business.
So what steps should you take to build the career, and ultimately, the life you've always dreamed of? Four entrepreneurs share insights from their new books to help you along the way.
1. Monetize your expertise and your passions.
Your passion projects have the ability to evolve into profitable professions. As an entrepreneur, aspiring entrepreneur, or currently employed professional, seeking to maximize your options is smart according to Dorie Clark, an author, marketing strategy consultant and professional speaker.
Her advice is to build what she calls a portfolio career, establishing as many revenue streams as possible. "Consider entrepreneurship as an insurance policy for your career," Clark advises in her new book, Entrepreneurial You.
"Maybe you've wanted to start a food blog in your off-hours, or to offer personal or professional coaching to friends and acquaintances on the side. Whatever form it takes, creating such "side streams" of income enables you to take more control of your career, your finances, and your life."
2. Don't let conventional wisdom kill your unconventional ideas.
"Our modern economy is fueled by ideas and right now we're only seeing 30-ish percent of them. Which means we ALL lose," says Nilofer Merchant, author of The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World.
"If you are "the only one", in a group that largely isn't like you, you're incredibly likely to give up your idea." Merchant warns.
The truth is all "Big Ideas" start small. It's up to you to muster the confidence and determination to nurture and fight for them.
3. Embrace who you are.
"We think that by fitting in, we'll have enough power to get by," observes Merchant, "But as long as we belong in this limited way, we aren't ever our full selves. And that means that really bold and original ideas born of our distinct history and experience, visions and hopes -- our personal only-ness -- are muffled or lost, or killed.
While only-ness sometimes feels like loneliness, a surprising percentage of successful, high-level entrepreneurs consider themselves introverts by nature. When you think about it, this makes sense. Thinking time is alone time, and entrepreneurs need to do a lot of thinking.
Self-styled "hermit entrepreneur" Morra Aarons Mele built a successful business by turning her weaknesses into strengths and shares her learnings in her newest book, Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert's Roadmap to Getting Out There When You'd Rather Stay at Home.
4. Set your own goals - and stick to them.
Are you the kind of person who goes to the grocery store without a list, comes home with a bagful of impulse buys, and forgets the milk? Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of the new book Killing Marketing, has a simple solution: Write a list! Pulizzi sees lists as an essential tool for keeping yourself motivated and on-track. "Be very clear on your goals," Pulizzi advises.
"Write them down and review them daily. Then take whatever your timetable was for success and double it. Starting a business is amazing, but it generally takes twice the amount of time you think to become truly successful."
Don't just be your own boss: Be your own picky, demanding, ruthless boss!
5. Get the word out, your way.
Unless you can afford to outsource, curating your social media could take up all your time. Pulizzi recommends finding a channel that tells your story the best.
His advice? "Focus on one audience at a time, with one kind of content (audio/text/video) on one platform (blog/website/YouTube/iTunes) and distribute your content consistently over time.
Be sure you are telling a different, valuable story in some way and focus, above all else, on building our email subscription database."
Being your own boss is an invigorating and attainable goal. Being your own mentor is a lot harder. Why not learn from the best? Now that you've had a taste of some of the valuable advice available to you from entrepreneurs who've walked the walk, do a deep dive into one or more of their books. You'll be surprised what you can learn and eventually, earn.