The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey released by the Melbourne Institute, showed the number of ‘solo self-employed’ people in Australia had not significantly grown from 2011 to 2016, despite increasing talk about the gig economy. It also found that the ‘self employed with employees’ sector had declined “at quite a rapid rate” from about 8.6 per cent in 2001 to less than 5.5 per cent in 2016. The HILDA survey, which has tracked more than 17,500 people between 2001 and 2016, suggested the gig economy, which is often referred to as growing, may in fact be “largely consigned to secondary jobs”. Alternatively, the perceived growth could simply be due to substitution of one type of self employed work for another. Interestingly, the survey found only half of those who were solo self-employed end up lasting a single year. “The self-employed are also more likely to fail than succeed,” University of Melbourne professor and HILDA co-author Roger Wilkins said. “For example, among those starting their own business between 2001 and 2006, only 50% were still in business a year later.” The data suggested solo self-employed workers appeared to be “struggling financially” and that “for many, self employment is only a response to the inability to find more desirable alternative opportunities as an employee”. The report suggested the most likely reason for the decline in self employment was “factors such as globalisation and technological change that have worked in favour of larger firms.” Ten tips to succeed against the odds Maintaining relevance as a contractor is crucial for success, especially if HILDA is right, so here’s how to do it: Establish best business practices – Effective systems for managing your business like bookkeeping, scheduling, invoicing, and task management will help maintain your business and smoothly scale up if and when the opportunity arises. Work on your business – Constantly assess your evolving customers’ needs, and your product offering, your service quality, and customer satisfaction to identify opportunities for change. Make yourself available – Be clear about your hours of operation and make yourself as available as you can to take calls during that time. No one’s infinitely contactable however these days people expect service – be quick to respond to any missed calls or emails. Be strategic in your marketing – Market to your existing customers as well as your prospects with fresh ideas that communicate the solution you have to solve their business need. There’s no need to spend up big – use social media and local media for targeted messaging. Be prepared – Think through every step of every job to make sure you’re as prepared as possible with the resources you need to complete it efficiently, on time and within budget. Exceed expectations – Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. Determine your strengths, and promote yourself accordingly, then when you’re on the job go above and beyond to exceed expectation. Manage your money – When estimating a project, factor in the costs involved, particularly any materials and labour, then add some room to move. Monitor your costs as you go and if there’s likely to be any deviation, inform your customer and seek approval before you continue. Importantly, always stay on top of your invoicing and payments due. Choose your customers – While it’s best to keep your customers, don’t be afraid to drop them if the opportunity cost is too high or they’re going to cause you aggravation. The customers who bring the largest return on investment over time and provide you with professional satisfaction are the ones you want. Network – Industry associations and professional business networking groups will help you find out more about your market, your prospective customers and the competition… you’ll also find opportunities to develop essential business skills. Don’t be afraid to outsource – Don’t waste your precious business building time fumbling around in areas you’re not good at. Engage experts in their field who can provide you with the services you need efficiently and cost effectively. Take action today At Ayers Group we’re the experts when it comes to managing payroll, tax obligations, leasing and more. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you grow your wealth and your business with success.