Over the last three years I’ve been watching, what I call, The Rise of the Micropreneur.
There are a few factors here. One is what Clay Shirky talks about in his book Cognitive Surplus. People have more time on their hands and they want to do something fulfilling with that time.
I first noticed the trend in 2008 when a lot of individual developers started latching onto the myriad of available API’s and build quick little mashups and apps. Most of these failed or went by the wayside, but some became real businesses.
I noted the trend again in 2009 as individual developers were able to build quick and easy iPhone games while still keeping their day job. I believe the downturn in the economy actually accelerated this trend.
Then near the end of 2010 I began noticing that there was a whole new class of micropreneur that didn’t need the same level of technical skills. They just needed some free time and the willingness to take advantage of new opportunities. I wrote about this in my 2011 version of the Top 5 Predictions for the Next 5 Years and called it making a living from the crowd.
And today I came across an article on the FastCompany CoExist site which summed up some of the factors around this trend quite well.
What defines this new economy is that it’s built on the empowerment of individuals and the technology that enables this. It’s allowing individuals to create their own jobs. It’s a celebration of life and time, and a shift in perspective of money. Technology now provides an opportunity for people anywhere in the world to monetize their passions. And it’s not just the artists and under-employed flocking to these platforms, but professionals who seek a higher quality of life, greater flexibility, and more time with their families.
There are five main reasons that I think make micro-entrepeneurship so appealing:
- Flexibility: The ability to focus on what’s important (family, health, self-care) is not only about have having more time, but also about having more flexibility in your schedule.
- Following your heart: The opportunity to spend more time doing what you love.
- Making money: Being able to cash in on the goods, knowledge, places, skills and passions that people already have.
- Enrichment: Many people, especially those who have been in the workforce for a long time, are looking for new, sustainable ways to enrich their knowledge, skills and experience in life. Those who are retired or unable to work full-time love an alternative way to stay active.
- Creativity: Being your own boss means being the visionary behind your own business, rather than merely following marching orders.
The value proposition of self-employment is so compelling that it’s precisely what drove the corporates-gone-creatives entrepreneurs behind the aforementioned companies to empower others to strike out on their own, while providing a business structure, resources, and guidance through the platforms that are otherwise unavailable to the self-employed trying to do it solo.