I wrote a blog post today on the PPH blog giving an update to our community on the upcoming Hourlies launch. One of the main things i relay in this post is my amazement to date on the sheer diversity of services people are offering, from as little as one hour. From the bread and butter type services like WordPress template design, creating a logo or a website, to teaching you the basics of social media, how to code or speak a language, creating your caricature OR .. one of my favourites: designing a custom made dog coat in 3 hours for $40 !!
As Hourlies are trickling in by the hour i am more and more seeing validation of my original intuition and vision. That the labour market is ripe for disruption. I see it in the ‘hunger’ of people which leads to the inventiveness and the originality of what they post.
It’s been said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. I say hunger is. And i mean hunger in the broader sense here; i mean the deep desire of people to work for themselves, to go out and do something different. To be in control, to do the things they love and earn an income while doing it. And to do it their own way.
This is a very profound and powerful catalyst for change on a macro level. Think of this: traditionally those who would set up a business on graduation are either those that couldn’t get a job, or people with an unusual drive to challenge the status quo. The ‘crazy’ ones. And only a very few – people like Richard Branson – made it spectacularly, and the majority failing and being stigmatised by that failure.
Thats all changing now .What PeoplePerHour has allowed – and that’s been our main success story – is for anyone and everyone to start small and risk-free, from a graduate to a retiree and anything inbetween. From people selling technical skills to now anything and everything under the sun. You can teach someone your grandma’s secret recipe if you so fancy (and if anyone will have it;). You can start small and build up, practically one hour (and now one Hourlie:)) at a time. You become your own little Richard Branson in the making, in an hour. Without the huge friction of starting. And without being crazy.
I am a big believer that the best businesses are those that unlock capacity that’s been bottled up, versus trying to create it. Businesses like eBay, Google, Etsy, and more recently Airbnb are businesses that have utilised idle capacity and channeled it to good use. And they allowed whole ecosystems to be built on top of them.
PeoplePerHour has the very same characteristics. Seeing what people are now posting on PPH makes me think how much unused latent talent there is in the economy, how much creativity is not being put to full use – and i’m not referring to unemployment – i’m referring to underemployment. People not maximising their potential.
Think of all the people you know in your own circle who tell you how much they hate their job, how they just fell into it and feel trapped, how they didn’t even want to study what they did but ‘had’ to for one reason or another, they followed their parents advise or family business and their destiny has been set ever since, or those that tell you how their day is spent on clock-watching, gossipping, killing time in long meetings and indecision.
Add all that up and you have a whole new economy waiting to be unleashed. You have a whole new workforce that’s there but not being utilised. Like the spare bedroom before Airbnb, or the crafts you build in your spare time before Etsy; or the used items you couldn’t sell before eBay.
I really believe that PeoplePerHour is more powerful that these examples. Not everyone has a disposable item to sell; not everyone has a spare bedroom; not everyone can create an artefact. But everyone has a skill to sell.
I always believed that PeoplePerHour sits at the intersection point of capitalism and Marxism in a way that would one day become very explosive. The internet and democratisation of the media is now – in a very ironic way – making Marx’s thesis possible for the first time ever. The connectivity of the internet is allowing people to remain in control of their own labour. But where that previously meant working for the state in order to prevent exploitation from capitalists (a model that clearly didn’t work due to the complications of central planning which end up going against human nature), today it means working for yourself. Capitalism and Marxism are converging in this new economy.
And that i think is what’s so powerful. So where will this lead us? Here’s my view:
I envision a world in a few years from now where more people will be working for themselves than for the government, where the biggest employers of the UK will not be the large state institutions like the NHS but will be your own good self. I believe that more people will be earning via PeoplePerHour than working for all the FTSE 250 companies put together. I believe that the pyramid will flatten, organisations will get smaller in order to innovative and survive. I believe that more graduates will naturally gravitate to starting up on their own right after school than going for the traditional corporate route. I believe that the productivity of the economy will be far superior to what it is now, with a workforce that’s motivated to the max as they are accountable to themselves. I believe that the 9-5 job as we know it will be over. I believe that more people in the workforce will be self-trained via the internet than via traditional corporate training programmes. I believe that the power held by large organisations will be replaced by that of of the ‘citizen entrepreneur’. And i believe that more innovation will come from this new ecosystem than we’ve ever seen from the corporate world.
I dont just believe this, i see it; I feel it in people’s deep passion and desire to get out there and do something different. To realise their full potential. People are rightly bored sick of the corporate crap. The routine, the commute, their moody boss, the progressions and promotions, the waiting inbetween, the long management meetings and the can’t wait to get the hell out to go home to my kids…
Thats why i think with this move PeoplePerHour is starting a revolution. A new movement. This is not incremental change. This is step change. And its been in the brewing for a long time. Far too long.
While i write this i cant help thinking back. I’ve been in the trenches of building a startup since i left university at the age of 23…i had the right vision but the wrong timing, we were way too early. And i’ve sacrificed a decade of my youth iterating on it, living and building this dream. I was once that person with that burning desire, the loner in the abyss. And i’ve come to know that sensation only too well to not see it in others.
I now do see it, it’s catching fire, its ready to come out and i know it will be explosive. I know it will change the way people work on a grande scale, and it will change the labour market for ever.
And nothing will get in our way to making that happen. This is what we’ve been preparing for all these years. This is our finest hour. And that of a global workforce – you and me and everyone around us – thats awaiting liberation.
It’s coming. Rest assured.