We believe that Philadelphia already has the people, knowledge, and money to add 50,000 good jobs to our workforce over the next 10 years. Our city just doesn’t have a real, concrete plan for making it happen. The 10k Independents Project is a real, concrete plan.
A strategic and fresh departure from traditional economic development plans, the 10k Independents Project focuses on people and small businesses who are already in Philadelphia. Our model and approach is cooperative, sustainable, and equitable by design, and it plays to the current and historical strengths of the city we love.
The 10k Plan
Our plan is built on three core pillars of action, described below.
Keep in mind, these are pillars and not steps, in spite of their logical progression.
Our model measures success by the progress and growth of individuals within each pillar, rather than defaulting to the traditional model that demands "every business must keep growing forever in order to be successful."
1. Inspire new paths to a good career.
Not everyone needs to or should be an entrepreneur, but too many people don’t even consider it a viable path because they’ve only ever seen a certain kind of company. By focusing first on the Independent Workforce (and other non-W2 jobs), we shift the narrative from “starting a company” to “creating a sustainable job for yourself.”
2. Move Independents from surviving, to thriving.
Specifically, our shared goal is to get 10,000 Independent workers to the point of sustainability. For us, sustainability means being able to consistently provide for yourself and your family, invest in your future, and invest in your community.
We will never duplicate work already being done towards this goal. We will only create new tools and experiences when they don’t exist, or when they improve our community’s access to new and existing existing business resources,
Through our work and relationships, we collect and curate the most effective resources that already exist in the local business ecosystem. With those relationships, we work to strategically connect small business owners who are just getting by with the right organizations and resources they need to become truly sustainable.
3. Prioritize hiring and growth to benefit our neighborhoods and communities in need.
Again, not everyone needs to or should be an entrepreneur.
So we aim to help 2,000 (20%) of our 10,000 Independents get reach a level of comfort in their business that making their first hire is something they can do with strategic and economic confidence.
When our Independents successfully hire their first employees – ideally through access-oriented pipelines like apprenticeships and free or affordable training programs – they are statistically more likely to hire a second, and so-on.
We believe that this approach to growth will help build a stronger and equitable business community that’s actually servers the citizens of Philadelphia.
The Math of the Path: From 10k Independents to 50k Jobs
(We know… math can be boring. But it’s requisite to the plan!)
Unlike traditional plans that only factor employee growth, we celebrate the 8,000 who choose to sustain themselves as Independents, and treat their jobs as real jobs… because they are.
Meanwhile, we estimate that around 2,000 (20%) of our Independents will actively choose to become employers. And if each of them hires an average∗ of 20 employees, they’ll collectively generate a total of 40,000 jobs for the region.
Then we add it all up: 8,000 sustainable Independents + 2,000 become employers + 40,000 jobs created by those new employers = 50,000 jobs.
These are very conservative estimates of what's possible based on existing data!
∗Statistically, many will hire fewer than 20 and a handful will hire more, but the overall numbers still work!
The Economic Impact
Unlike centralized corporate power, the Independent Workforce does not actively displace marginalized communities, exert outsized influence in local politics, and increase Philly’s already devastating wage gap.
On the contrary, this plan creates accessible jobs for people to grow with their businesses, and for employers to continue employing, compensating, and empowering Philadelphia’s workforce.
And what does a reasonably-paid, culturally-competent, and local-oriented workforce do?
They spend money in their communities! They organize their resources to help peers and demand change. And they work together to help Philadelphia reach the potential we all know it has.
Ultimately, THAT is at the heart of the 10K Independents plan: career control and financial sustainability for more Philadelphians.
Funded by us. Owned by us.
Initially, this entire effort is being funded by members of the small business community (no business larger than 150 employees) who wish to pay it forward. Revenue from products, programming, and aligned partnerships will also help fund our operations.
In 2023, we aim to add a member-funded professional association to the core of our operations, and ultimately will run that professional association as the first member-owned organization of its kind.
We believe that running 10k Independents as a co-operative will put the power an organization like ours into the hands of it's member-owners.
This model helps to keep us aligned with our community by offering them both financial transparency (how their membership dues are being spent) and voting power (deciding how the organization serves them and their peers).
Each person on our core team, and all of our core collaborators, are based in Philadelphia. We have been active contributors to the city, and participants in our communities and, most uniquely, each of us is building at least one Independent Business of our own.
That means not only are we building this thing based on the present and future needs of the real Independent Workers we serve; but we are real, thriving Independent Workers ourselves.
Between us, we’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs who already have valuable skills to contribute to society, but have trouble conjuring the resources to even survive. We work inside, and outside, of a wide range of institutions. We’re not just thinkers, we’re doers.
We’ve done the work to earn trust when it mattered most.
We hope you’ll let us earn yours.