Why People Want To Be Micro-Entrepreneurs

This new part of the economy—people using collaborative consumption platforms to become entrepreneurs—is growing. What is inspiring these new business people?

The micro-entrepreneurship economy—an economy that allows people to make money off their skills and assets—is rapidly growing, led by an army of freelancers and fully employed workers who want to make extra cash on the side. What’s so appealing about delivering groceries for $20 on Taskrabbit, selling a sailboat tour for $120 on Vayable, or dancing in a hot dog costume for $5 on Fiverr? It’s the money, sure, but that’s not all.

Fiverr, a site that bills itself as "the world’s largest marketplace for small services," recently conducted a random survey of 1,100 of its sellers to find out what inspires them. The results:

  • 86% of respondents are looking for job independence.
  • 80% are frustrated with the 9 to 5 grind. The top six frustrations: lack of freedom, not making enough cash, working regular business hours, reporting to a manager, commuting, and boredom.
  • 72% of respondents say their primary motivation for joining Fiverr is the money.
  • 40% of users started using the service to have fun while making money, and 32% are hoping to gain more professional experience.
  • Some people aren’t straying far from their day jobs—42% offer skills that they also use in their full-time job. But 35% are angling to monetize a hobby.
  • There’s a big "I can do that too!" factor: One in three sellers on Fiverr saw what others were doing and decided they could do the same thing.
  • Two third of sellers think of their gigs as a business, and 14% of users count on the service as their primary source of income.

It’s hard to generalize too much here—the sample size is small, and every micro-entrepreneurship platform is different (a typical Fiverr offer—"I will promote your business or birthday message with my hand puppet for $5"—is nothing like what people sell on rental services like Airbnb or even other task services). But chances are, people use all micro-entrepreneurship platforms somewhat similarly.

In a recent Co.Exist post, Vayable co-founder Jamie Wong postulated that micro-entrepreneurship is popular for five reasons: the flexibility, the opportunity to do what you love, the money, enrichment, and the opportunity for creativity. That lines up pretty well with Fiverr’s findings. Those reasons may be the start of an entirely new, and very important, part of the economy.

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