More than ever before, the ability to be self-employed is on a lot of people’s minds. Independent work is or has been a part of nearly 48% of American’s careers, a number that is expected to grow to 52% over the next five years. Independence offers the opportunity for greater flexibility, increased career satisfaction, and even the chance to earn more money—so, there’s a lot to be excited about. However, making the leap to self-employment is a big career change and a choice that must be considered carefully.
In his webinar, Going Independent: Are You Ready to Make the Leap?, experienced consultant George Hallenbeck, Director of Commercialization for the Center for Creative Leadership, discussed three important steps to making the transition to an independent career. Below, we summarize the key takeaways from his talk.
1. Assess the Challenges
While there are many benefits to independence, that doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for everyone. If you’re considering transitioning to an independent career, it is first important to determine if it is truly right for you.
There are many differences between independent and traditional roles that may not initially come to mind. For example, if you’re pursuing independence because you’re tired of dealing with a really tough boss, consider the fact that when you’re self-employed you will be reporting to multiple bosses—your clients.
Think through the challenges you are likely to face and how you would realistically go about handling them. Take time to thoroughly research the services you are planning on offering. You want to be sure there is an existing market for your talent and passion.
2. Determine If You’re Ready
Next, it’s important to determine if you have what it takes to succeed as an independent. As a business of one, success requires a lot of disciplined self-leadership. You must have a grounded sense of self, be comfortable with risk, and not let small hurdles keep you from moving forward.
Market needs won’t stay the same for the life of your career and that means you also need to be able to adapt your offerings and be willing to update your skills along the way. Lastly, building a strong community of support will be key. As you grow your business, you will have to face rejection and overcome problems you didn’t expect. A supportive community can help you through difficult situations and provide a valuable outside perspective.
3. Take Small Steps
Finally, knowing when and how to actually make the transition to independence can sometimes be the hardest step to take. There’s no right or wrong path here. Some people may be more inclined to make one big leap whereas others may feel more secure taking smaller steps.
During this time, the most important thing you can do is have clear goals and work diligently to pursue them. Identifying specific risks and fears you have and creating a plan to mitigate these concerns will help you stay focused on your goals.
There’s a lot to do when you start your own business, but rather than trying to take on everything at once, make a plan and focus your efforts on a few select areas. A clear plan will help you to identify tactics, align resources, and track your progress rather than jumping in and hoping things work out. When obstacles arise, as they are bound to do, don’t shy away. Dig in, figure out what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.
Going independent is a big choice and even bigger life change. Thoroughly think through each one of these phases to ensure you make the decision that is best for you. If you’re considering becoming a full time independent consultant, learn how to prepare yourself by reading: How to Transition from a Full Time Job to Self-Employment.
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