Meet Jennifer Flynn, Vice President of Product at Airtasker, a trusted community marketplace for people to outsource tasks and chores, and find local suppliers. If you or your business need something done, and don’t have the time to do it yourself, Airtasker helps you quickly find someone that does.
The gig economy has taken Australia by storm, motivating more people than ever to take control of when and how they work. According to the ABS, there was a 3.1% increase in actively trading businesses between June 2016 and June 2017. This was driven by “non-employing businesses”, with more and more sole proprietors embracing the chance to be their own boss.
Not only does the gig economy give more people the freedom to work for themselves, it also frees up valuable time for small businesses, who can more easily find help and delegate specific tasks. It’s one of the reasons Airtasker, with almost 2 million active users, has been such a success.
Q. Tell us a bit about Airtasker and how it began.
Airtasker is a really simple idea, made possible by technology. If there’s something you need doing, whether it’s handyman work, office admin, photography or household chores, people and businesses can simply post a task for free and choose from the rated, verified and reviewed people that reply.
We’re an Australian business, founded by Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui. With the rise of the sharing economy, they saw an opportunity for a business that helped people leverage their skills and their downtime, and use them to make money. Whether it’s a little extra on the side, or a main source of income, Airtaskers are free to make the platform work for them.
Q. How does Airtasker help small businesses?
Quite simply, for almost any task that needs doing, there’s someone on Airtasker with the skills to help. We’ve seen small businesses use us for all kinds of tasks, from market research and admin support, to website development and flyering. Being able to hire multiple people when needed really helps small businesses respond to market needs and scale quickly to meet their business objectives. We also see Small Business owners use Airtasker to outsource chores and tasks in their personal life, when they become too busy at work to manage it all.
Q. How do you manage the work/life balance?
I work long hours, which I find rewarding, but I try to be disciplined. If I do find myself doing work admin at weekends, I try to keep it 2-3 hours max. I also make sure I book upcoming social events in the diary and commit to them. It’s much harder to get out of something if everyone knows you’re going.
Q. What do you like most, and least, about running a business?
Obviously being a service business, we succeed when customers are happy. That’s always rewarding, but personally, I like spotting opportunities to make improvements. I find working with research, design and engineering teams to develop new product offerings the most fulfilling part of my job.
In terms of what I find most challenging, like many people, I’d say time. We have to be quite ruthless in what we decide to work on, and set priorities, which means there’s always something we haven’t got around to addressing yet. That bugs me.
Q. Your business is based on helping other people find help, but how do you attract the best talent?
Like every business, we want to attract the people with the best skills. It’s a really competitive market out there, so it’s important to create a positive impression with potential employees. Being known in the community, and having a good reputation makes all the difference.
It’s important to build a brand in your community, which means participating in meetups and sharing knowledge. It projects an image of approachability and openness, sending the right message to any potential future employees.
Perks are nice, but they’re not enough to help you retain staff if the work is more rewarding elsewhere. We believe the ability to leave the office at the end of the day knowing that you made a positive contribution to someone’s life is much more rewarding than a free daily fruit box.