Service Industry Outlook

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Part
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Service Industry Outlook

In the United States, there are digital platforms where freelancers can market their services and find clients. Provided below are examples of these platforms and some insights about the growth of the industry these platforms operate in, the popular segments in this industry, and the common pain points of freelancers when setting up their business. Also provided are examples of unexpected innovation or technology hubs apart from Bentonville, Arkansas.

Companies in the Freelance Service Industry

Details about predefined companies TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy and an additional company, Jobble, are provided below. All four companies offer freelancers or independent contractors a platform through which they can find jobs and connect with clients. Handy, however, is less focused than TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Jobble on helping freelancers grow their business, and unlike Handy, Jobble, and Thumbtack, TaskRabbit currently does not serve Northwest Arkansas.

TaskRabbit

  • TaskRabbit offers a platform through which people can easily get help for everyday work. Through TaskRabbit's platform, people can choose a Tasker based on price, ratings, reviews, and skills, schedule the job for their Tasker, chat or connect with their Tasker, and pay, tip, and review their Tasker.
  • TaskRabbit enables Taskers to be their own boss, set their own rates, and grow their business. Taskers can choose the services they want to offer, set their schedule, and select the geographic areas they want to serve.
  • Tasks featured on the platform include delivery service, home repairs, general cleaning, furniture assembly, moving, heavy lifting, spring cleaning, personal assistant work, yard work, waiting in line, closet organization service, office administration, and research.
  • TaskRabbit's value proposition can be seen in what it promises both clients and Taskers. TaskRabbit promises to make clients' life easier by providing a platform through which they can instantly connect with skilled Taskers and even get same-day services. It promises Taskers a platform where they can easily market themselves, find flexible work and clients, earn money their way, and get 100% of what they charge.

Thumbtack

  • Thumbtack offers a platform where customers can find and hire local professionals and professionals can find local customers. Through its platform, customers can browse a list of professionals who match their needs, view prices, use filters, chat with shortlisted professionals, check the availability of professionals, and book professionals. Professionals, on the other hand, can set their preferences, such as where and when they want to work and the kinds of jobs they are interested in, find customers that match these preferences, and grow their business.
  • Thumbtack categorizes its services into home improvement, wellness, pets, business, events, lessons, crafts, design and web, legal, personal, photography, repair and technical support, and writing, translation, and transcription. It offers around 500 different services. It is based in San Francisco, California.
  • Thumbtack promises that through its platform, customers can "find local professionals for pretty much anything" at no cost, learn what other customers have paid for projects like theirs, and find project guides containing free advice from Thumbtack pros. Before booking a professional, customers can also see background check results, licenses, and verified reviews.
  • Thumbtack offers a money-back guarantee that ensures customers that if their project was not completed as agreed, they can get their money back. Any property damage is also insured.
  • It also promises that it is available in all 50 states of the country and that it has professionals "covering every county." In Arkansas, it is popular in the following cities: Bentonville, Cabot, Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Rogers, Springdale, Blytheville, Conway, Fort Smith, Little Rock, and Searcy.
  • It says it is building not just a product but local economies and communities as well. It is helping small businesses become successful.

Handy

  • Handy offers a platform through which customers can book cleaning professionals and handymen at a set price. It also sells home products, with each home furniture coming with "free delivery and professional installation." Professionals on the platform are free to set their work schedules.
  • Handy works by enabling customers to select the service they want to book, select the time that works best for them, pay for the service, and confirm the booking. It does not allow customers to choose professionals.
  • Handy's services are focused on the home and are categorized into cleaning, television and electronics, assembly, general handyman, plumbing, electrical, painting, moving, smart home, and window treatments.

Jobble

  • Jobble offers a platform through which independent workers can find jobs, access or unlock benefits and perks, and empower themselves with valuable resources, and businesses can post jobs, screen shortlisted applicants, and hire workers. Perks and benefits for independent contractors are categorized into health and insurance, career development, financial management, and exclusive lifestyle discounts.

Research Strategy

As requested, the website, products and services, value proposition, headquarter location, and metrics of performance of TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, Handy, and a similar company that serves Northwest Arkansas were provided. Incidentally, we found that TaskRabbit does not serve the state of Arkansas. No performance metrics specific to Northwest Arkansas could be found in the public domain. Our examination of company websites, news articles, industry reports, and business information databases such as ZoomInfo, Dun & Bradstreet, and Crunchbase did not uncover any figures specific to Northwest Arkansas. Only company-level figures could be found. Depending on the areas served by the company, these figures could be global in scope or specific to the United States.

Historical and Projected Growth Rates of the Freelance Service Industry

The historical and projected growth rates of the freelance service industry in which companies such as TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy operate could not be located in the public domain nor reliably triangulated with available data. Only historical and projected growth rates for the temporary labor market in the country and estimates of the year-on-year growth rates of TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy could be provided.
  • A few reports, including those from Absolute Reports and The Insight Partners, indicate that the market that TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, Handy, and Jobble operate in is called the on-demand staffing service market or the on-demand staffing platform market. Unfortunately, existing reports on this market are paywalled and do not share information about the historical or projected growth rate of the global or United States market, much less the Northwest Arkansas market.
  • The closest information that could be found in the public domain is a chart showing the size of the temporary labor market in the United States from 2014-2025. As can be seen below, the chart does not provide all the necessary values.
  • If the measurements on the chart are accurate, it can be estimated via ratio and proportion that the projected size of the temporary labor market in the country is around USD 133.44 billion in 2020 and around USD 175.89 billion by 2025.
  • It can also be estimated that the market's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the period 2015-2020 was 5.3% and the market's projected CAGR during the period 2020-2025 is 5.7%.
  • The temporary labor market is different from the on-demand staffing service market, however. The temporary labor market measures the wages to be earned by temporary workers, while the on-demand staffing service market measures the revenue to be generated by on-demand staffing platforms.
  • A study conducted by Emsi, a labor market analytics provider, and TrueBlue, a specialized workforce solution provider, forecasts that employment in temporary help services in the country will grow by 8.5% during the period 2019 to 2025. In contrast, employment across all jobs in the country will grow by only 6%.
  • This projection means that employment in temporary help services will grow by almost 254,000 jobs and reach over 3.2 million jobs by 2025.
  • The growth rates of players in the on-demand staffing service market were examined in the hope that they can offer insights into the growth rate of the market. ZoomInfo estimates that between 2020 and 2021, the revenue of Thumbtack has grown from USD 100 million to USD 152 million, a year-on-year increase of around 52%.
  • ZoomInfo also estimates that between 2020 and 2021, the revenue of TaskRabbit has grown from USD 29.2 million to USD 29.4 million, a year-on-year increase of around 0.7%, and the revenue of Handy has grown from USD 30.7 million to USD 41 million, a year-on-year increase of around 33.6%.
  • Given that the growth rates of these players are too varied, a reliable conclusion could not be made using this approach. A review of the growth rates of on-demand staffing services for house cleaning, handyman work, and delivery was performed, as they are usually the services offered by on-demand staffing platforms such as TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy. Unfortunately, no relevant growth rates specific to Northwest Arkansas or the United States could be found in the public domain.

Research Strategy

To find the historical and projected growth rates of the freelance service industry, we initially looked at industry reports published by market research firms as they typically contain growth rates. The reports we examined were reports about the on-demand staffing service market and the temporary labor market. This did not uncover useful figures, however, so we proceeded to look for growth rates of key players in the market such as TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy. We were able to get estimates of these growth rates, but the rates are too varied for us to reach a reliable conclusion. As suggested, we also tried looking for the growth rates of on-demand staffing services for house cleaning, handyman work, and delivery, as they are usually the services offered by on-demand staffing platforms, but we were unable to find any. The closest data we could provide are the historical and projected growth rates of the temporary labor market in the country and the estimated year-on-year revenue growth rates of TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy.

Fastest-Growing Segments in the Freelance Service Industry

The fastest-growing segments in the freelance service industry that TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy operate in could not be reliably identified, as the data needed to identify them is unavailable. However, popular tasks on Thumbtack, a unicorn in the space that covers a wide range of tasks and is available in all states of the country, offer helpful insights. On Thumbtack, the popular tasks are house cleaning, handyman tasks, lawn mowing and trimming, massage therapy, and outdoor landscaping and design.

Background

  • Finding the fastest-growing segments in the freelance service industry in Northwest Arkansas or the United States proved difficult for several reasons. First, data that could be used to reliably identify these segments is unavailable. Second, there seems to be no official name for the market that TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy operate in. In a few reports, the market is called the on-demand staffing service or platform market, while in some articles, the market is called the market for gig economy marketplaces.
  • Emsi and TrueBlue's study shows that the fastest-growing temporary occupations in the country, with their corresponding projected employment growth rates during the period 2019-2025, are as follows: production workers/helpers (26%), laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (10%), packers and packagers (10%), industrial truck and tractor operators (10%), human resources specialists (10%), and stock clerks and order fillers (10%). The study, however, seems focused on businesses hiring independent contractors rather than households hiring independent contractors.
  • Since the required data is unavailable, it may help to look at the popular tasks on Thumbtack, as Thumbtack offers a broad range of jobs or tasks on its platform and is available in all 50 states. As mentioned above, Thumbtack promises that through its platform, customers can "find local professionals for pretty much anything." Thumbtack is also a market leader with a valuation of USD 1.7 billion.
  • On Thumbtack, the popular tasks are house cleaning, handyman tasks, lawn mowing and trimming, massage therapy, and outdoor landscaping and design.

House Cleaning

  • House cleaning is first on Thumbtack's list of popular tasks.
  • On Thumbtack, house cleaning tasks are defined by frequency (i.e., just once, every week, every 2 weeks, once a month), number of bedrooms (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), number of bathrooms (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), cleaning type (i.e., standard cleaning, deep cleaning, move out cleaning), extra services (e.g., window cleaning, fridge cleaning, oven cleaning, laundry), and presence of pets.
  • On Thumbtack, the average starting cost for house cleaning tasks in Bentonville, Arkansas with zip code 72712 appears to be USD 80.

Handyman Tasks

  • Handyman tasks are second on Thumbtack's list of popular tasks.
  • On Thumbtack, handyman tasks are defined by work focus (e.g., doors, windows, interior walls, exterior walls, gutters, cabinets, shelving, molding or baseboards, flooring, tiling, appliances, plumbing, electrical, lighting, wall hangings, furniture), property type (i.e., home, business), and number of hours (i.e., less than 2 hours, 2-5 hours, a full day).
  • On Thumbtack, the estimated hourly cost for handyman tasks in Bentonville, Arkansas with zip code 72712 ranges from USD 35 to USD 75.

Lawn Mowing and Trimming

  • Lawn mowing and trimming are third on Thumbtack's list of popular tasks.
  • On Thumbtack, lawn mowing and trimming tasks are defined by frequency (i.e., just once, once a week, every 2 weeks, once a month), clippings (i.e., mulch, bag and haul), lawn size (i.e., less than 1,000 square feet, 1,000 to 5,000 square feet, 5,000 to 10,000 square feet, 10,000 to 15,000 square feet), and grass length (i.e., standard or up to 6 inches, tall or up to 12 inches).
  • On Thumbtack, the average starting cost for lawn mowing and trimming tasks in Bentonville, Arkansas with zip code 72712 appears to be USD 35.
  • Lawnstarter, a startup that offers an on-demand lawn care service platform, reached profitability and recorded a 100% year-on-year growth in 2019.

Massage Therapy

  • Massage therapy is fourth on Thumbtack's list of popular tasks.
  • On Thumbtack, massage therapy tasks are defined by therapist gender preference (i.e., no gender preference, female massage therapists only, male massage therapists only), massage type (i.e., Swedish or standard massage, deep tissue massage, Thai massage, sports massage, medical massage, reflexology, hot stone massage, pregnancy massage), session length (i.e., 60 minutes, 90 minutes), and number of people (i.e., 1 person, 2 persons).

Outdoor Landscaping and Design

  • Outdoor landscaping and design are fifth on Thumbtack's list of popular tasks.
  • On Thumbtack, outdoor landscaping and design tasks are defined by the work needed (i.e., small changes, large changes, complete renovation), need for hardscaping (i.e., patio, walkway, retaining wall, artificial turf, driveway, boulders or stones, water features, arbor or trellis, other hardscape services), and need for maintenance.
  • On Thumbtack, the fee for on-site cost estimation of outdoor landscaping and design tasks in Bentonville, Arkansas with zip code 72712 ranges from free to USD 85.

Research Strategy

To find the fastest-growing segments in the freelance service industry that TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, and Handy operate in, we first consulted reports published by market research firms. These reports, though paywalled, sometimes provide information on the fastest-growing segments of a market. After failing to get relevant results, however, we turned our attention to news articles about TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, Handy, and other similar market players to see if they have shared information about their market's fastest-growing segments. This did not turn up useful results as well, so we ended up looking at popular tasks on Thumbtack, a unicorn in the market with a broad range of tasks and a nationwide presence.

Common Pain Points of Workers in the Freelance Service Industry

Managing financial and administrative responsibilities, compensating for the lack of employer benefits, marketing services and finding clients, and establishing pay rates and creating impressive proposals are common pain points of workers in the freelance service industry, especially when setting up their business.

Managing Financial and Administrative Responsibilities

  • The management of financial and administrative responsibilities is a challenge for freelancers. They have to understand not just the freelance projects they work on but their finances, contracts, and self-employment taxes as well.
  • Other matters they need to take into consideration are billing, accounting, bookkeeping, and office administration.
  • Managing these additional responsibilities can be daunting especially when freelancers are swamped with projects.
  • When establishing their business, freelancers need to understand complex concepts such as business structures, business registration, business licensing, taxes, and contracts.
  • They also need to be prepared for the expected variations in workloads and income. In a source about the pros and cons of freelancing, it was mentioned that cash flow is "one of the more worrisome issues."

Compensating for the Lack of Employer Benefits

  • Paying for their own health insurance and other social benefits is a major pain point for freelancers. In fact, 44% of freelancers say that the cost associated with paying their own health insurance is a key concern.
  • Since freelancers do not have the same employer benefits that employees enjoy, they worry about getting sick, missing work, and not making any money at all. They have to save up for vacation and retirement because unlike employees, they do not have paid vacation credits, and they do not have an employer contributing to their retirement fund.
  • Freelancers are not entitled to employer-provided benefits such as 401K, health insurance, sick time, and vacation pay.
  • Upwork and Freelancers Union's latest Freelancing in America survey shows that some top concerns of freelancers relate to healthcare, savings, and retirement.

Marketing Services and Finding Clients

  • Freelancers, particularly those building and growing their business, spend a significant amount of time marketing their services and finding clients. Freelancers can spend "dozens of hours a week" on these activities, and unlike employees who are paid for each hour they work, they do not get paid for these hours.
  • To find clients and market their services effectively, freelancers may need to build a portfolio website, market their services on social media, create content, and take advantage of professional networking opportunities.
  • Freelancers have to constantly market or promote themselves. Ninety-four percent of freelancers consider marketing a challenge. Of freelancers, 25% say marketing is the biggest challenge, 34% say marketing is one of the major challenges, 23% say marketing is somewhat a challenge, and 11% say marketing is a minor challenge.
  • For freelancers who consider marketing a challenge, the top three concerns are "understanding how and where to get better clients," "finding clients to market to," and "making time for marketing."
  • Almost a third of freelancers say they are worried about finding jobs. In one source about the disadvantages of freelancing, gaining clients was identified as "one of the most significant challenges of launching a new business."

Establishing Pay Rates and Creating Impressive Proposals

  • Establishing their pay rates and creating impressive proposals are a challenge or a pain point for freelancers, especially those who are new to freelancing.
  • Freelancers, especially those who are just starting out in the world of freelancing, have to familiarize themselves with examples of great proposals and starting pay rates.
  • Freelancers need to decide if they should be paid by project or by the hour and if they should lower their rates to gain more jobs.
  • They need to set controls in place to ensure they will be paid by the client.

Research Strategy

To find the common pain points of freelancers in building their own service business, we consulted surveys of freelancers, articles and reports about freelancers, and reviews of apps or platforms that help freelancers find jobs and grow their business. We checked as well if freelancers have blogged about their personal experiences in building their business. Unfortunately, we were unable to find anything specific to Northwest Arkansas. The findings presented above are specific to freelancers in the United States.

Unexpected Innovation or Technology Hubs in Mid-America

Novi in Michigan, Kansas City in Kansas, Fort Collins in Colorado, Ann Arbor in Michigan, and Huntsville in Alabama are five examples of unexpected innovation or technology hubs in Middle America. Despite their small populations, they are places where innovation and technology thrive.

Novi, Michigan

Kansas City, Kansas

Fort Collins, Colorado

  • Fort Collins, Colorado is one of the smaller cities in the United States that are "giving [Silicon Valley] a run for its money, according to the 2019 Brain Concentration Index of Bloomberg.
  • The city is 12th on Bloomberg's list of top tech hubs in the country. According to Bloomberg, the city has a brain concentration index score of 95.5 out of 100.0.
  • Of the city's population, 4.6% are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobholders, 13.4% are science and engineering degree holders, and 12.8% are advanced degree holders.
  • Fort Collins had a population of 170,243 in 2019.
  • Similar to Bentonville, Fort Collins has a mostly white population. Over 88% of its population is white.
  • Like Bentonville, Fort Collins leans Republican.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan is also one of the smaller cities in the United States that are "giving [Silicon Valley] a run for its money, according to the 2019 Brain Concentration Index of Bloomberg.
  • The city is 3rd on Bloomberg's list of top tech hubs in the country. According to Bloomberg, the city has a brain concentration index score of 98.97 out of 100.0.
  • Of the city's population, 6.6% are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobholders, 15.5% are science and engineering degree holders, and 18.3% are advanced degree holders.
  • Ann Arbor had a population of 119,980 in 2019.

Huntsville, Alabama

Research Strategy

To identify unexpected innovation or technology hubs in Middle America, we looked at Southeastern Conference (SEC) college towns as suggested. However, we had difficulties justifying their inclusion in our list of unexpected innovation or technology hubs. Since a source that readily lists the desired information could not be found in the public domain, the best we could do was look for articles and reports identifying innovation or technology hubs in the country's heartland and check which of these hubs have a population of 70,000 to 200,000 and are most similar to Bentonville or Fayetteville in Arkansas. We also checked which cities have the highest concentrations of STEM workers or professionals. A source published in 2018 confirms that Alabama, Kansas, and Michigan are all part of Middle America or America's heartland. Colorado is not part of the heartland but is adjacent to it.
Sources
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