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The Seven Secrets of The Gig Gurus:  A Tool Kit for the Freelance Gig Economy!

“The #1 thing I want from this Tool Kit is to inspire people to create an entrepreneurial movement within themselves.” – co-author Daryl A. Williams.

by Maynard Eaton

The Seven Secrets of The Gig Gurus is a descriptive, detailed, and dynamic how-to template to survive and thrive economically during this evolving post-Pandemic era and beyond. This is a Tool Kit, a workbook, not a novel. This is about deliberately and advantageously participating in the freelance gig economy.

This guide is not about working for low-paying ride sharing or delivery platforms. It does, however, effectively show you how to transition into much better paying freelance gigs. It is more about monetizing your skills so that you have better control of your life and can earn what you are worth. It is about having flexibility and work- life balance.

As a result of the Great Recession from 2007-2010, a changed perception of work developed. Over 8.7 million people lost jobs, and many survived by piecing together work through a hustle, freelance, or gig. People learned you do not have to have a full-time job to be successful. One of the other lessons was that they could earn more than they had been paid in their 9 to 5. In the past, only musicians called this type of work “gigs”. Now millions were participating in the freelance gig economy at first out of necessity but later by choice.

“I grew up always having some side action,” says co-author Dr. Charles A. West, a former business professor, CEO of a franchise acquisition group and management consulting firm. Dr. West has also authored four books. “From high school thru college, I had a hustle; I had a gig. Now, you have more people piecing together jobs. In the past, everybody wanted a full-time job that provided benefits because that was part of the American Dream. Since the Great Recession, globalization, new technologies and outsourcing it is more acceptable; people no longer look down on it. There is no longer a stigma attached to be out there gigging.”

“People have always hustled, particularly in underserved communities,” adds fellow co-author Daryl Williams, a former band leader, musician, song writer, recording engineer and producer, who performed extensively for 12 years. “They have always had a side hustle – the shade tree mechanic for example. Everybody had a handyman in the neighborhood. People hustled doing hair, or cooking. We all grew up that way, but that had limited scope in terms of how you are going to be profitable and expand. There’s a ceiling to that kind of hustle.” But the freelance gig economy also allows you to take a gig, prove it is viable and then sell it, he says.

It’s not what you do, but how you do it, our elders often preached, and that is what Gig Gurus is all about. This new book tells you what to do, why to do it, how to do it, when to do it, and where to do it. It also provides the tools, techniques, and technologies to use to achieve your economic goals and dreams. That is what these accomplished entrepreneurs and authors reveal in their “Seven Secrets” handbook.

“Essentially, what we’re talking about is how to get into the freelance gig economy successfully,” says Dr. West, co-creator of the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership, an Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation spinoff. “What are the secrets to get you in there? There are seven secrets, and they are designed to help people go into the freelance gig economy successfully and profitably.”

Adds Daryl Williams, “It’s really about understanding you are an entrepreneur and how you want to make money. I don’t think there is one common end goal for every entrepreneur. Some people just want to make enough money to afford to buy a new car; others want to be able to control their lives; another group wants to be able to afford to pursue their passion; some others want to make it their whole life. So, it depends on what your entrepreneurial dreams and your passions are. You must be serious about how you are going to make those profits. And that is what we emphasize. It is also about intentionality; what are you trying to achieve in whatever your hustle is? Once you decide that, then it just becomes a matter of how you set a path to get there.”

Previously, Williams served as the co-creator and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership (UEP), a nationally recognized entrepreneurial coaching program founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In that role, he managed offices in 5 states, over 70 employees and vendors, and raised over $14 million for the program which had over $300 million of economic impact on the communities it served.

Williams and Dr. West met at an Economic Development Conference at the White House. Later they joined forces to help resuscitate businesses following Hurricane Katrina, and coach minority entrepreneurs and small business owners in Kansas City, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and then Detroit.

“In Kansas City and New Orleans, we were helping small and medium size entrepreneurs restart their businesses,” Williams reveals. “In Detroit we were assisting exceptionally large auto suppliers who had been impacted by the bankruptcies of several automobile manufacturers during the Great Recession. We would help them retool from just being auto parts manufacturers to thinking about how they could diversify into aerospace, healthcare, energy, and defense.”

Now, this persuasive editorial duo is offering intellectual insight and information on how best to expand your business bank account.

“Our goal is not trying to tell people they need to be entrepreneurs. It is to help them make informed decisions about the freelance gig economy and its ability to meet their needs. If you are going into the freelance gig economy you become an entrepreneur, that is Secret #1. This means your competitors are global. Also, that you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each platform and verify potential earnings before you sign up. In addition, you want to compare the benefits of using an existing platform versus creating your own. Here is an avenue that if you want to have control over what you are trying to accomplish, you might want to consider this”, opines Williams.

The data is clear, says Dr. West, “87 percent of people who are in the freelance gig economy don’t want to go back to the 9 to 5”. “About 47 percent of people that are employed now would like to go into the freelance gig economy in the next five years. “Over half of the people earn more in the freelance gig economy than they did in their full-time job. People want flexibility. They also want to do the things that they are passionate about.”

Dr. West and his cohort are a seasoned and savvy team dedicated to teaching entrepreneurial success to all of us using freelance gigs. That is their collective determination and mission. To that end, the authors have also produced a companion course for individual and group training.

“The real deal is this is where this economy is going over the next five years,” suggests Dr. West. “The numbers that we are looking at say that by 2025, as many as 40 percent of people could be participating in the freelance gig economy.”

From the time West went to New York in 1968, as a financial analyst, he dabbled inside businesses until he hit upon the right one - ladies’ handbags. He has been in the gig economy for the past 50 years, since 1971, when he began selling women’s handbags that only cost him two dollars each. Dr. West made so much money from his pocketbooks hustle, he was able to put a down payment on a home with his profits.

“I got two dozen and went up to 125th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue, and sold them in two hours,” West recalls. “I used to take my kids down there with me when I would sell them on Saturday. In New York City, everybody had to have a hustle. I went from selling two dozen handbags to selling 1,000 pocketbooks at my height. I had people working for me and had two different suppliers”.

Now here is the kicker, he continues. “I had my professional job, with a B.A. from Morehouse and MBA in Finance from Atlanta University. I got paid well where I worked but having a family in New York was expensive; saving was difficult,” he says. “This was gig money I saved and used for a down payment on a house. That is how I bought my house in Mount Vernon, New York. That’s when the light went off. A gig can be the key to financial freedom.”

Dr. West continues, “I remember my college accounting professor, Dr. Jessie Blayton, always told us to get ourselves a little cash business on the side. When I became a professor, I told my students the same thing and used my side hustles to show them what I was teaching them worked. I have taught this same lesson to my children and grandchildren. All of them have freelance gigs.”

In closing, Dr. West asks this reporter rhetorically, “If I ask you, Maynard, how many hustles do you have? A good New Yorker probably has several hustles. So, the real question is, how do you identify the side hustle that is going to be most advantageous to you and develop it? And, even once you do it, how do you take care of yourself through that self-hustle? And there are some tax benefits that go along with having a side hustle. That is really what the Tool Kit is about -- Teaching You the 7 Secrets and How to Use Them. See for more information.


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