How many lines do you have in the water? Folks in the Gig Economy have several, and then toss in crab pots, and rent a boat – anything to bring in the next gig. The phrase came back again while talking to a friend this weekend. He pointed out that I’ve probably never had so many lines in the water. I’m not the only one, but there has been a recent surge thanks to a few opportunities. Opportunities are great, but until they are realized, they are sources of consideration and sometimes consternation. The Gig Economy has great opportunities, but that also means don’t be surprised if the need for a day away from it all is that much stronger.
Entrepreneurs are familiar with tending lots of lines. A different friend told me about finally getting his web site working just right. Getting dozens of leads every day is great! Turning enough of those leads into revenue streams is harder. Which ones to pursue? Which ones to encourage? Which ones to ignore for a while? They may be called leads or opportunities, but they are people. People are logical and emotional, rational and irrational, have plans and are frequently disrupted by things out of their control. Welcome to the guessing game that is modern commerce.
Life is random, despite our attempts at plans. Several years ago I wrote about having several Lines In The Water. Some of the lines have been reeled in. Others have been productive. The most enticing ones are regularly reeled in, freshened, and cast back out hoping to make that connection. Plans are great. The most useful ones are written in pencil. Good and bad luck, however, can trump them.
Listen to biographies and autobiographies. Few successes happen without some mention of good luck. Being in the right place at the right time with the right people and the right resources is hard to arrange on purpose. Anyone who goes to that much effort can be seen as controlling, something many people avoid. A plan can set the right direction. Effort adds energy and builds experience. Networking broadens the awareness of skills and talents while also increasing the possibility of connecting with wants and needs.
It isn’t socially acceptable to give all the credit to good luck, unless it’s from winning the lottery jackpot; and even there, a ticket had to be bought. Giving credit to good luck is seen as self-effacing or humble-bragging.
It isn’t socially acceptable to give all the blame to bad luck, even though we read stories about one illness, one accident, one mis-spoken gesture or phrase that ruined lives and careers.
And yet, it does seem like some people have all the luck. Lucky them.
Lines in the water is another strategy based on diversification. Especially in the Gig Economy, diversification is powerful. Gigs aren’t permanent. Gigs are probably part-time. If a gig isn’t enough to pay all of the bills, other gigs are necessary. Even if a gig is profitable enough, its lack of stability means it is prudent to have another gig ready.
Fortunately, a few gigs and a few paycheck jobs have been added to my lines in the water. It is all good. All seem to be reasonably good matches to my skills and talents and their needs and wants, hopefully with sufficient benefit to both sides. There are no guarantees, which is why so much time has been spent tending the opportunities. Which is also why my brain ran out of energy Saturday afternoon.
The good news is that I can finally give myself a day off every week. I needed it. Sunday morning was a small breakfast followed by some laundry, and playing a game. Sunday afternoon was spent reading a book, taking a nap, and feeling guilty every twenty minutes. Sunday evening started with dinner and sneaking in a bit of work that worked as guilt relief as well as training for a possible new gig. I’ll finish this, and make sure I make time for a movie and some popcorn. Monday is only hours away.
The Gig Economy is new, or at least the title is. Entrepreneurs have been working such lines for centuries. Real estate agents, retail shop owners, anyone who relies on an unsteady stream of work is familiar with managing uncertainty. Over on another of my blogs (PretendingNotToPanic.com) is an article about the growth of the Gig Economy. While the concept is old, and the name is young, the data show that much of the improvement in employment (~94%) has been in the Gig Economy. As this trend continues, our economy, financial institutions, and lifestyles will continue to shift. Adaption is necessary.
With no surprise, adaptation at a personal level is happening faster than adaptation at a governmental level. Financial models, personal finance wisdom, and basic services are already changing because basic human needs must be met now. People can’t wait for legislation.
If you’re working in the Gig Economy and feel out of sync with institutions, don’t be surprised. You’re ahead of them. They’re following you. If you know people in the Gig Economy and they’re not listening to your advice, it may be because your advice is, or was, fine for a different era.
One thing remains a constant. Each person has limits that must be respected. I understand that sometimes it is necessary to work seven days a week, 10-14 hours a day. Advice is great – as long as you can pay your bills. Occasionally, though, take a day, let the lines in the water rest, and rest yourself. Practice playing, even if it feels a little guilty.