Navigating 2023's Business Environment

In 2023, business success requires dealing with your expertise in light of technological advancements, such as AI and financial uncertainties. Not all professions will be in demand. The landscape might appear intimidating, but each challenge demands that you are going to have to be creative with what you do.

Jon Younger [1], on my Wisepreners Podcast, suggests that you assess the following:

  • Whether your skills are currently sought-after,
  • Your relevance in the marketplace,
  • Whether the demand is enduring enough to build a long-term career, and
  • Does it belong to an industry resilient enough to withstand fluctuations?

The Personal Journey: Risks and Rewards

"Self-employed people cannot by law or logic be unemployed, only broke." wrote Charles Handy in The Age of Unreason. [2] 

I was constantly broke when I first started.

Mind you; I had yet to learn how to run a business or what I could do to make money. I was continually scrambling to find work and get paid.

Handy's observation is a warning for those considering self-employment. More than twenty years later, while continuing to run my marketing services business, I have a better idea of how to describe what a business is and what it means to work for yourself.

Starting with a buffer to survive the first year, such as savings, a working partner, a part-time job, retirement benefits, pension or social security benefits, helps relieve the fear of being broke. The first year or two can be tough. I cannot deny that this is one of the biggest fears of wanting to shift to self-employment.

The Business Equation: Crafting and Delivering Value

At its core, business involves offering a product or service that improves the customer's life or work. You will need to design your offer and be able to sell it, then deliver it. Understanding the meaning of 'value' is not unilateral; it's a mutual exchange between your interpretation and your client's perception. Negotiating the worth of your offering is identified in the interaction with your client. The perceived value is a two-way street - a concurrence between what you believe you provide and what your client perceives they receive.

The Business Equation: Crafting and Delivering Value

At its core, business involves offering a product or service that improves the customer's life or work. You will need to design your offer and be able to sell it, then deliver it. Understanding the meaning of 'value' is not unilateral; it's a mutual exchange between your interpretation and your client's perception. Your offering's worth is recognised through negotiation with your client. The perceived value is a two-way street—a concurrence between what you believe you provide and what your client perceives they receive.

The Emergence of the Open Talent Economy

The professional landscape now includes an open talent economy. Freelancing offers a satisfying career path, but it also requires careful strategising. This strategy should include understanding your motivations for freelancing, identifying how to deliver value, and building long-term relationships.

Pinpointing Your Clientele

The first step towards carving a niche in self-employment is understanding who you aim to serve and how. I think being clear on this helps to define your offer.

Seth Godin [3] helps by posing three simple yet profound questions:

  • Who's it for?
  • What change can you make?
  • What's the promise?"

Establishing a Unique Position and Testing the Waters

Carving out a unique space in an environment filled with freelancers and gig workers will be challenging. Depending on your niche and how many others are seeking to get the same work. Too many chasing the same work turns the piece into gig work and lower pricing.

Rather than seeking self-employment full-time, consider testing the waters with a side gig where you sell products online, a craft or hobby, choose products to dropship, or even set up a part-time business selling coffee or food at markets or walking dogs. Hobbies can provide fresh avenues for the side-gigging entrepreneur.

Understanding the following distinctions will be helpful to find your preferred niche:

  • Gig work —short-term, low-cost specific tasks such as on Fiverr or Uber
  • Freelance work—self-employed, often multiple projects for different clients, possibly using freelance platforms such as Upwork or Freelancer.com, and 
  • Contract work— working for one client for longer periods is . 

Your success hinges on your capacity to demonstrate the commercial value of your skills and provide a clear return on investment.

Finding Your Commercial Value

Albert Azis-Clauson [4] advises freelancers to:

Identify their work's commercial value and context by presenting a business case for the job. By providing a skill or service in a commercial context, they can position themselves, generate value, and view themselves not as sellers of skills but as problem solvers.

In this context, a challenging question is:
Why are you the right person to solve this problem?

Overcoming this mental hurdle leads to better professional outcomes. Your target depends on what you can do for SMBs or larger firms. .

Embracing the Self-Employment Journey

Self-employment is full of challenges but provides opportunities for personal and professional growth. It helps to understand the ever-evolving business landscape, carefully identify a target market, and commit to providing uniquely tailored solutions.

Continuous learning and adaptability are critical tools, alongside the ability to negotiate the value of your offering with your clients. While this can be demanding, self-employment can pave the way towards autonomy, innovation, and a better sense of purpose in your domain.

Notes

[1] Jon Younger, A tireless advocate of the freelance economy

[2] Charles Handy, The Age of Unreason

[3] Seth Godin, This is Marketing

[4] Albert Azis-Clauson, Ep. 77 The Human Cloud Podcast: Albert Azis-Clauson in conversation with Matthew Mottola

Platforms

fiverr.com

upwork.com

freelancer.com

Related Articles
How not to start a business
From Struggling to Thriving: Expertise and the Challenge of Self-Employment



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