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Written by: Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP® and Martie Gillen, Ph.D., MBA, AFC®, CFLE

One of the biggest decisions service members make is deciding upon a career path after exiting military service. Options include securing immediate employment, attending college or trade school to build human capital, entrepreneurship, or fully retiring. 

Depending upon the path chosen, educational tracks are provided by DoD as part of the transition process. For those interested in starting a business, the Transition Assistance Program provides workshops that cover topics such as business financing, business plan development, and legal issues associated with business ownership.

Personal financial managers may get questions about career planning or financial aspects of entrepreneurship. For example, entrepreneurs must arrange their own health insurance and retirement plan. In addition to traditional businesses with office space and employees, the digital age has opened up new options for one-person businesses where business owners work from home.

Below is a brief description of three emerging digital age entrepreneurship options for PFMs to be aware of and service members to consider: 

1. The Gig Economy

The term “gig economy” refers to services provided on demand to clients on an “as-needed” basis, often through the use of a website or app. Some people cobble together multiple gigs with hours equivalent to a full-time job, while others do gig work in addition to a “day job.” Service providers can be paid in cash, through an exchange of goods or services, or even cryptocurrency. 

Gig jobs are mostly paid by the task, not the hour, and gig workers can determine how much they work by accepting or refusing jobs. According to the IRS, examples of gig work include driving for a ride-sharing service, running errands or completing tasks, selling goods online, renting equipment, providing creative or professional services, and providing other temporary freelance work.

2. The Creator Economy

The term “creator economy” includes millions of entrepreneurs who provide services to create or curate content, including those who produce videos, blogs, podcasts, websites, and apps. Content creation is one of the fastest-growing types of small businesses with an estimated 50 million people worldwide who include themselves in this category. Content creation work is typically done at home or at a client’s workplace. Like gigs, content creation can be a full-time career or a side hustle. Proficiency with technology is essential.

3. Influencer Marketing

Influencers make money by affecting the buying habits of others. It is not easy work and requires time, social media proficiency (particularly Instagram and TikTok), and a large number of followers (10,000+). Some influencers can earn six figures as brand ambassadors or through sponsored content and affiliate marketing. The Federal Trade Commission requires influencers to disclose financial relationships with a brand (e.g., posting content or including advertising links in exchange for money or discounted products).

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