Working as an independent contractor in the gig economy is a great way to earn extra money. And rather than just picking up odd jobs, there is real potential to develop long-term relationships and grow your own business.
In the future, we will all have at least seven jobs, says futurist Faith Popcorn. Some of us are already halfway there, renting out our homes, painting someone else’s, giving strangers a ride or dropping off their Thai takeaway. Solopreneurs, freelancers, the self-employed – whatever you call them – this way of working is here to stay. And with big societal changes such as the NDIS and Consumer Directed Care in aged care, it’s estimated that 25% of Australian workers will be independent contractors by 2020.
For many people, independent contracting, or working in the gig economy, is a great opportunity to earn extra money. In fact, the term was coined during the GFC when people held several jobs to make ends meet.
In the gig economy, people are generally making a living or a bit extra through short-term work arrangements or “gigs” through companies and apps. Arguably the most well-known are Uber and Airtasker.
But not all gigs are created equal. We take a look at what makes Better Caring different.
Fixing it for you – Uber and Airtasker
When you gig through companies like Uber, your rate is set by the company rather than an agreement between you and the client. A job is posted through the app and allocated to drivers in the area. There’s no such thing as repeat business. It’ll only be by coincidence that you deliver a Four Seasons pizza or a passenger to 2 Smith Street twice in a week.
Working through the likes of Uber and Deliveroo is a very seldom career or vocation but it is a good introduction to running a business, and you’re responsible for your own tax, super and insurance.
Similar, but slightly different, are sites like Fiverr.com and Upwork, where clients advertise jobs like logo or website design and set a budget, and it’s up to workers to bid for the job. This can often come down to price, which can turn into a race to the bottom, but it is possible to build a business and a client base who are willing to pay for quality. On Airtasker, consumers advertise tasks like moving house or painting a wall within a set budget, too. And this is also very competitive because you’ll only get the job if you’re quick on the uptake.
Flexing it for you – the Better Caring difference
Whether people sign up to Better Caring for a bit of extra income or are leaving jobs in the aged care or disability support sectors to grow their own business, this online social platform can accommodate them.
Workers on the Better Caring platform get to set their own rates, and they can charge more with qualifications like Nursing or services like Personal Care or Medication Management. Clients approach workers or post a job, but ultimately clients and workers negotiate with and choose each other, with many Better Caring jobs leading to long-term relationships. Clients also have the chance to judge quality and leave a review after the work is done.
The Better Caring platform empowers workers through technology, marketing and administrative support to reach a set of customers without dictating the terms for them. Support includes taking care of collecting payments, arranging insurances on behalf of workers, and providing resources and tools to help workers grow their businesses.
The sharing economy – building communities
We may be online, but in reality, Better Caring is all about building communities. By using the platform, clients can find someone they connect with in their local neighborhood. For workers, they’re encouraged to join a Facebook Community and find a “buddy” who can share shifts. This works really well for both workers and consumers. Workers get to cover their shifts knowing they can provide continuity of care for clients, and it becomes a reciprocal way of referring work to each other and growing a business.
Not only about “gigs”, you can build your business through Better Caring
“I get almost all of my business through Better Caring,” says Leanne Day, independent worker on Better Caring, “This is the best caring job I’ve ever had. I choose my clients, my hours and the rates I charge. The only disappointment I have is that I didn’t take this step sooner.”
Leanne is either contacted directly by potential customers or receives information about people looking for a support worker and then decides if she wants to work with them. If she decides to go ahead, she pays Better Caring 10% of her hourly rate. Once she is hired, she works directly with the customer. Leanne says that she’s built great relationships with the clients she found through Better Caring, providing her business with steady and reliable income.
Because workers using Better Caring are working for themselves, they have to pay their own superannuation and don’t receive other benefits such as annual leave. But because they get to set their own rates, they’re in a position to charge an hourly rate which includes these benefits. Better Caring also provides support and education for workers to understand their tax and super obligations, and guidance on setting competitive rates aligned with their skills. Importantly, there’s also a minimum hourly rate to ensure workers can’t inadvertently set a rate below the minimum wage.
Over time, we’ve noticed that average hourly rates for workers on the platform have increased each year. Not only that, clients are often willing to pay more than the hourly rate workers specify in their profiles. Why? It’s all about relationships.
The difference is a click away
One of the most critical differences about the Better Caring platform to other “gig economy” websites is the importance of the client-worker relationship, which is creating connected communities around Australia.
Consumers finally have control over who comes into their home to support them. And workers finally get to work on their terms, with clients they click with. In that sense, Better Caring is part of a new “click economy”, set to revolutionize aged care and disability support in Australia, and make the NDIS and consumer-directed care work for everyone in the community.
Whether or not you’re excited by this new way of working, platforms like Uber, Airtasker and Better Caring have an important role to play in the new economy. And with increasing demand, one in five new jobs created in Australia over the next few years will come from the disability sector and aged care. There’s never been a better time to explore self-employment in the care and support sector. As Brisbane-based worker Deb says, “Tired of feeling under-appreciated and under-resourced? Don’t leave aged care, just work for yourself!”