How Startups Can Harness the Gig Economy to Navigate These Uncertain Times


Startups and small businesses are no strangers to the gig economy. Many small businesses have roots in freelance work, and just as many have leveraged gig workers at one time or another to move a project forward. Hiring freelancers allows you to get a little bit off of your very full plate.

“Even if you only hand over small tasks, it opens you up to take on the tasks that need your unique attention,” says Olga Mizrahi, author of The Gig is Up and business blogger for the freelancer workforce. There are distinct advantages to hiring workers on demand and on a project-by-project basis — and those benefits are amplified in times of uncertainty.

Here’s how leveraging the gig economy can help you turn this time of disruption into a golden opportunity.

Leverage Increased Access to Better Talent

Since COVID began, unemployment levels have risen across the board. With many projects on hold, this has affected the freelance workforce, too. There’s a greater number of available freelancers now than there has been in a very long time, Mizrahi points out. “Times of uncertainty are also huge times of opportunity,” she says. “There are 3-4 times more of the best people available to you, which wasn’t the case before.”

You now have greater access to a level of talent you didn’t previously have. Those freelancers are more flexible and more available. This supports a high quality of work and allows you to bounce back from this disruption having developed working relationships with the top freelancers in your field.

Engage Freelancers in Your Evolving Business Strategy

The pandemic may have you questioning your business’s next moves and long-term goals. We’re used to relying on freelancers for products and projects, but freelancers can support your evolving strategic goals, too. “There is a level of freelancer who has consulting experience,” Mizrahi says. Coaches can advise you, but freelancers can both do the work and help you gain a deeper understanding of the outsourced project elements.

A freelance SEO consultant, for example, can help you optimize your website and content, but they can also advise you on overall communication strategies moving forward. At a time when each move you make has to be calculated and precise, partner with freelancers who can offer both tactical expertise and services as well as strategic guidance.

Build the Bedrock for Future Partnerships

Now is a great time to lay the groundwork for future partnerships with top freelancers. “Freelance work is lonely work,” Mizrahi points out. “The feeling of being part of something is so important.” Connecting gig workers to your purpose is essential and ultimately leads to better work. Identify the freelancers you want to build relationships with and get a better understanding of what they’re looking for long-term.

“Everything’s about the relationship,” Mizrahi says. When freelancers vibe with your people and your company mission and goals, they’ll look forward to future projects. Build on these relationships to develop better collaboration processes and a more innate understanding of each others’ needs and goals.

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