The gig economy is here to stay. According to a Gallup poll released in 2018, approximately 36% of U.S. workers (57 million people) participate in the gig economy. This includes your friends, neighbors, and family. Chances are that you know at least one person, though probably more, who has a side gig.
I often recommend for would-be entrepreneurs who aren’t ready to take the plunge and start their own business to dip their toe in the entrepreneurial world by pursuing a side business.
In fact, I offer two side gig opportunities, ONEHOPE Wine and LegalShield, for people who want to get started but don’t where to start. How’s that for entrepreneurial? I side-gigged a side-gig.
But besides offering a great business learning opportunity and a little extra cash, side gigs also help provide a chance for new products to come to market. Who benefits? Fledgling entrepreneurs and any shopper looking for something a little different.
One of the first products I discovered when I moved to Georgia was the clothing line Cabi. I was invited to one of their stylist’s parties and was impressed by the quality and designs. As I began receiving more and more compliments on the different pieces I purchased, I decided to look up some info on the company. I was surprised to discover that Cabi is a $250 million company, all without having a presence in traditional brick and mortar stores. It is the brainchild of two female entrepreneurs, Carol Anderson and Kimberly Inskeep, who wanted to sell clothing but also wanted the quality of life that comes from owning your own business.
Around the time that I discovered Cabi, I was invited to a wine tasting and stumbled across ONEHOPE wine. Thank goodness people in Georgia are so hospitable, social, and entrepreneurial. ONEHOPE was created with the intention of creating an impact through the sale of its products. The charitable component was the basis of the company, not an afterthought. Started in 2007 the company has donated approximately $4 million to the various non-profit organizations it supports. While it has a robust e-commerce platform and is available in a few stores, the company has grown on the strength of its cause entrepreneurs who host wine parties or partner with local non-profits as a fundraising opportunity
Chief Brand Officer Brad Hall was quick to note the integral role women have had in the company’s success. In a January 2019 interview with Forbes about the company he said, “It’s created this amazing community of people, mostly women, that is incredibly inspiring and creating more impact in their communities all over the country.”
As I continued to research the different side gigs some of my clients and friends had, I began to notice a couple of trends. The first was the surge in multi-level marketing (MLM), which is the model of friends selling to friends and recruiting on behalf of a company. According to a report from the Direct Selling Association “about one in seven US households include someone involved in direct sales, and participation skews female — 92 percent of in-home sales parties are thrown by women.”
Anyone familiar with the Tupperware or Avon parties of yesteryear know this is nothing new. However, the reemergence of companies adopting this sales strategy and its embrace by women doesn’t surprise me. Women tend to naturally focus on creating their personal network and communities, both of which are necessary for success in MLM companies.
While some people do find success as high earners in these companies, it isn’t the only reason women are signing up. Rodan and Fields, a skincare company founded by Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, was initially sold at Estee Lauder counters across the country where it floundered until the doctors bought their company back and relaunched it as an MLM in 2007. Today it has more than 150,000 associates.
Women, especially those who are primary caregivers in their family, enjoy the flexibility and work-life balance that a side gig offers. Others are simply looking for a way to make some extra money while socializing with other women and promoting a product they are passionate about and believe in.
Side gigs aren’t new to women. Many were gigging before there was even a word for it. According to a 2018 Harris Poll, 75% of women reported seeking a side hustle or gig for additional income (compared to 58% of men) and 28% of millennial women already have one.
These changes in work arrangements and technology allow women to succeed and embrace their entrepreneurial side, and not just in the MLM sphere. Etsy, the online retail platform dedicated to handmade and custom items, took advantage of the International Women’s Day to release investor information about their company, noting that 87% of their 2.1 million sellers are women.
What does it all mean? That women are leading the way in turning the side hustle into the future of work, and that we’re are only beginning to see where that is going to lead us.
Maria Hall is the Chief Empresaria at Ignite Business Coaching. She helps entrepreneurs and small businesses achieve their six figure success. Her personal mission in life is to inspire, ignite and advance positive purpose in herself and others.