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January 31, 2016

The Sharing Economy and the Age of the Freelancer

There have been numerous reports of the “Sharing Economy” being the demise of American business. It’s safe to say that business people that don’t evolve with our ever changing world are sure to fail. With every new generation comes new innovation. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (Baby Boomers) made home computers a reality. Sean Parker (Gen X) was the 1st person to start the sharing economy by creating Napster (Music File Sharing Service). Mark Zuckerberg (Millennial) created Facebook and perfected social networking platforms. With these men laying the groundwork, economists fear that we’re entering the sharing economy. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky recently made it into the Forbes Billionaire Club with a little site called AirBNB.

Economists fear that a Sharing Economy will destroy American business as we know it. As mentioned, AirBNB is changing the hotel and lodging market while Lyft and Uber are changing taxi services and cooperative work spaces are taking over commercial real-estate. It seems that in the coming decades, very few businesses will own major assets and virtually everyone will be their own boss. Freelancers have followed this business model for years; keep overhead low, hire contractors, and undercut the market by charging less than a fully staffed brick and mortar competitor.

Millennials have found out the hard way how much the job market has changed. Most of us are Freelancers out of necessity, not choice. Sick of being unemployed, underemployed, and taken advantage of, we left the corporate world in waves with broken hearts, salvaging overpriced degrees, and whatever real world skills we gained. We moved on to chasing our passions on Ipsy, Ebay, and We cashed in our 401k to fund the dreams we studied for. If you don’t already know your expensive degree and a set of wheels pretty much only qualifies you to drive for Uber or Lyft, and not much more on graduation day.

I’ve been a freelance paralegal, account manager, and SEO Copywriter for almost 2 years now. It’s not perfect but it’s a living.  Maybe it’s because I’m part of the generation challenging established business but I’ve never been one to be scared of an ever changing world. I’m young enough to adapt and see change as an opportunity, not an obstacle. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes.

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