It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship: adjunct professors and small business owners. When paired, the two can grow revenue faster and with greater agility than their big business counterparts. So how can the two make money together? They must find each other and leverage each other’s strengths. Here’s the why and how of it.
Small Businesses Dominate the U.S. Economy
Who drives the U.S. economy? Small businesses drive the U.S. economy. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are over 31 million small businesses compared to 20,000 large enterprises. Is your business a small business? Well, the SBA defines a small business by an organization’s annual revenue (ranging from $1 million to over $40 million) and employment (from 100 to 1,500 employees). The bottom line – there are big numbers in small businesses.
The Grit of a Small Business Owner
No one who owns a small business will tell you it’s easy. Some would say ownership is like sailing alone in the open ocean. An owner’s job is to captain the company ship, keep it afloat, wear every hat, and do whatever it takes. Business ownership becomes a voyage requiring self-determination, motivation, desire, and a mindset to make change happen.
Small business owners also recognize the dedication, tenacity, and grit required to push through each business day. Once your small business sets sail, it’s a rough ride to meet revenue expectations, make payroll, and survive. Owners must embrace the daily struggles and persevere while carefully managing money, resources, and people. They quickly realize the risks and the consequences of a wrong decision. A mediocre hire, constant guesswork, and ill-advised strategies can cost the organization its brand identity, thousands of dollars, and profits.
An aware and mindful small business owner will keep the boat sailing in the right direction. A savvy owner is a consumer of knowledge along the way; pouring over business instruments, learning from others, plugging weaknesses, and pursuing continuous improvement. Owners know fumbles are a rite of passage, and the passageway to success will be upholding a growth mindset, a drive to stick with it, and requesting support along the way. While owning a small business is not for everyone, many launch their small business to pursue a dream of flexibility, financial opportunity, and the pride associated with success.
The Adjunct Entrepreneur is a Small Business Owner
An adjunct professor does not teach for salary, benefits, or self. Adjunct professors teach because they love the classroom, students, giving back, and passing on knowledge – it’s selfless. Enter the adjunct professor as an entrepreneur. Similarly, many adjunct professors live a life comparable to a small business owner. Coined the adjunct-entrepreneur, these professors teach one or two college courses a semester and successfully own small side-businesses for financial benefits, independence, diversity, and freedom. These adjunct-entrepreneurs face similar small business challenges, risks, and constraints. A day-in-the-life of the adjunct-entrepreneur means juggling course preparation, classroom facilitation, and office hours along with small business consulting, writing, business planning, coaching, and organizational strategy. Adjunct-entrepreneurs enjoy the dual-work life of higher education teaching, together with freelance consulting. Adjunct professors acknowledge that the multiplicity and work mixture is exciting, nerve-racking, and stimulating.
Why Small Business Owners Prefer Hiring Freelance Adjunct Professors
Twenty years ago, common advice for small business owners was to hire slow and fire fast. Still true today, still expensive, and still emotionally draining if new employees don’t pan out. Consider the freelance, gig economy worker and adjunct professors. Adjunct professors are a growing segment of the U.S. independent, freelance labor force. The adjunct professor at night and entrepreneur during the day loves teaching in their field of study and area of specialization while solving small business challenges on a short-term, per-job, and per-task basis. The adjunct- entrepreneur, is a more efficient, cost-effective, and imaginative approach for small business owners to move initiatives forward with lower emotional and financial risk.
The Benefits of Hiring Adjunct Professors for Small Business Projects
- Resources: Unless the small business owner has a specific need to hire a full-time employee, they should consider the freelance route. Adjunct professors who teach industry-related courses are great resources due to their knowledge depth, critical thinking, access to research, tools, and case studies. In essence, they apply academic business theory to real-world business practice.
- Commonalities: Hiring an adjunct-entrepreneur who swims in the same small business pond will highlight and fuse clear commonalities. Adjunct-entrepreneurs are small business owners and instantly empathize, connect, and harmonize with their brethren business owners. Adjunct-entrepreneurs can quickly identify commonalities and care about the work, tasks, and each other’s well-being.
- Shared Experiences: Hiring a big consulting firm to support a small business makes no financial or strategic sense. For the most part, large consulting firms serve large companies. An adjunct-entrepreneur understands small business markets, research, products, services, and organizational needs. The adjunct-entrepreneur can grasp small business issues and come equipped with small business experiences and small business solutions.
- Local Support: There are approximately 16 colleges in every U.S. Congressional district, and ~1.3M non-tenured, part-time professors across the U.S. Local adjunct-entrepreneurs are available in every community. Today, small business owners can connect and meet an adjunct entrepreneur with a quick search.
Adjunct professors are a perfect freelance option for many small business owners. The blend of real-world small business experience, combined with an academic foundation, is an owner’s secret weapon. If you are a small business owner, rethink the need to hire a full-time employee and seek the freelance adjunct-entrepreneur at your local university. They are prepared, equipped, and ready.