Unbundling Work from Employment
by Li Jin
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (13 min. read time)
“Outside of commerce, unbundling is now affecting a much broader domain of everyone’s lives: work is being unbundled from traditional employment.” — Li Jin
What is a micro-entrepreneur? “…or free agents, creators, freelancers, and independent workers who utilize digital platforms to make a living by leveraging skills and knowledge in the absence of a traditional employer-employee relationship.” — Li Jin
From a 2019 Freshbook study, Li reports that the primary motivations for those pursuing self-employment were non-financial: most individuals seek a combination of freedom, fulfillment, and career control.
If you’re building for this new wave of micro-entrepreneurs, Li advises to pursue a horizontal or vertical strategy. Here’s the difference:
Vertical: companies that are building products for a given industry (ex. Substack). They excel by — turning their non-producers into producers (i.e expanding the market), providing deeper value in helping workers manage/grow their businesses, reintroducing services that workers lose when they are unbundled from companies, and fostering vertical specific network effects (i.e. discovery).
Horizontal: support workers in an industry-agnostic way, vertical platforms are focused on a particular industry (ex. Patreon). Here’s how they can better support micro-entrepreneurs — acting as a discovery destination for consumers, fragmenting creator tools, and creating economies of scale (ex. lending), and providing common infrastructure/services needed across verticals
“There’s a massive opportunity for digital platforms that lower the barriers to micro-entrepreneurship to support the growth of these workers, in whichever directions they seek.” — Li Jin
My two cents: It’s crazy how I’m beginning to see how certain pieces compliment or pair nicely with other pieces of content. To preface, I’m really weird, but when thinking of content as digital vitamins, consuming this piece + Blake Robbin’s Modern Suppliers essay, the effects are very real. Especially, if you’ve never experienced the world of the creator, the unbundling effect, and how companies/platforms/features are racing to help creators. I highly recommend consuming both Li’s and Blake’s essay in the same sitting!
Share (if you're an OG) Twitter Facebook