bSolo joins Aspen Institute future of work panel

By Kim Langway

Recently our own Duke Chang, co-founder and head of bSolo, incubated in Fidelity Labs, joined a panel in Washington, DC hosted by The Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative. Following remarks by Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) and moderated by NPR’s Yuki Noguchi, Chang joined five peer experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities of a 21st-century economy for the self-employed. In addition to a Washington audience, the panel was streamed via YouTube to viewers around the globe.

Besides greater income volatility and uncertainty, Chang and his colleagues explained, the challenges that freelancers encounter include access to benefits like health insurance, personal or sick leave, retirement, and tax management. Alleviating the strain of this last obstacle in particular is at the heart of Chang’s work at bSolo. “We’ve conducted research with over thousands of people who’re self-employed,” Chang shared. “Taxes are the biggest blocker to short-term and long-term savings for independent workers. But what we find is that taxes aren’t the first thing on someone’s mind.”

A person transitioning into self-employment is often unaware of the unique tax burden he or she will face, including increased liability and the requirement that taxes be paid quarterly, rather than annually. Since no one informs them in advance, many workers don’t realize their oversight until the end of their first year of self-employment, Chang noted—at which point they can be penalized for not paying in the first place. Even those entrepreneurs who want to pay taxes responsibly are often frustrated by the costs and confusion of opaque requirements. “You’re your own payroll department,” Chang reflected. “You’re your own HR.” Juggling these multiple roles can demand increasing compromises, especially as more Americans move to independent employment—or they could, without the help provided by a product like bSolo. “Our mission at bSolo is to unleash the opportunities of independent life without compromise.”

bSolo offers automated savings and payments of quarterly taxes. In addition to help navigating both state and federal language and deadlines, bSolo links frictionlessly to your personal bank account, helping you save while you earn, then scheduling and submitting tax payments on your behalf—all subject to your own customizable needs and preferences. Once up and running, bSolo’s software keeps you in secure hands for as long as you need, or until your needs change, when a freelancer can simply update his or her preferences. This way, the self-employed can avoid late fees or penalties while increasing their security, productivity, and peace of mind—as well as their income. “Taxes aren’t fun to deal with,” Chang acknowledges. By reducing the time and energy a freelancer expends on them, bSolo maximizes the potential of an independent worker for a more empowered work/life balance.

Seated at The Aspen Institute panel beside Chang happened to be Sarah Bailey, an independent consultant and researcher who attended to represent the many self-employed in America. “All I want is an even keel,” she shared, to express what she and her peers were looking for in self-employment. “I’ll be honest, I’m thinking about checking out this program bSolo.”