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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  • Chris Bumgardner

    Great article! As the co-founder of AskYourUsers.com -- a micro-consulting marketplace for LinkedIn users -- I love seeing what motivates others. It's incredibly exciting to join this thriving ecosystem of people-driven platforms that enable anyone to be paid for their knowledge and talents. 

  • Marco

    For me it's the freedom. I got burned bad on a previous job as an employee. Gave it all that I had and wound up empty handed and treated badly by the company.

    It's freedom to do what I love and not dealing with company policies I don't agree with. Call me a black sheep, etc, I just think some decisions made by "management" are in detriment of the well being of a company.

  • carolsanford2

    Great piece Ariel. Very timely and informative. Watching a parade yesterday it reoccurred to me that Entrepreneurship is in the DNA of America. But not all entrepreneurs are alike. I just posted a blog today on the difference between a social entrepreneur and The Responsible Entrepreneur or just an entrepreneur who meets many of the reasons you mention that they take this on. You would enjoy it I think. Carol Sanford, author The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success. Winner of Four Awards in top Business Books by Int'f Titles (Winner), 800CEOREAD, and CNBC. www.carolsanford.com/blog 

  • jeanneatfindyourcoach

    Yeah, I think many have that business dream of not having to punch a clock and not being under some bosses thumb, you know? But I think it even goes beyond that. I think we want the freedom of owning a business, plus - if we are going to have to work to pay the bills and support the family, why not do it with something thatv your great at and that you love! For example - I am a working Mom and although I love to nake, I simply don't have time. BUT I really don't like buying baked goods in regular store because they are usually loaded with chemicals & sodium. If I'm going to give my son cookies or pie - I want natural, healthy and smart ingredients in them...real milk, natural sugar, real chocolate - NO chemicals. There is this new bakery that comes to our farmers market each week and they bake the most incredible monster cookies ever. Pricier than store bought? Yup - and worth every penny. The chef started in his kitchen making small batches for weddings, parties and such, and just now opening a store. I appreciate that they are growing, but I love that they started small, from someones skill and creativity. That's waht evybody should get to do for work - what they love!