“The biggest mistake that you can ever make is to ever think that you work for anyone but yourself. From the time you take your first job until the time you retire you are always self-employed.”-- Brian Tracy, Business and Professional Development Coach
The quote above can be a game-changer for many people considering self-employment.
Realizing that your skills and abilities are services that someone is paying for, regardless of the nature of how you work, is a powerful notion.
It takes a minute for this to sink in. Most people believe they work for their company—but if you really think about it, you are working for yourself. You get paid for your work. You provide your labor. The company pays you. To earn a living, you supply your services to someone willing to pay for them. That someone could be the company you work for, or a client you find on your own.
Shift your mindset, and many would-be consultants find themselves on a path to independence—be that a path with a side hustle or a headfirst dive in to consulting—instead of on a hunt for a “new job.”
Viewing your career through the lens of self-employment can help you to achieve future goals. Both employees and independent contractors should have a career plan.
Tracy recommends thinking of yourself as the CEO of your own personal services company. With this in mind, determine the skills you’ll need in the future, a personal marketing strategy, and a strategic plan to get you where you want to be in your career.
After all, if you’re not thinking about your career plan, who is? Entrepreneur Jim Rohn describes this way of thinking, saying, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
In her Harvard Business Review article, A Campaign Strategy for Your Career, Dorie Clark offers a campaign-style plan for employees who want to advance their careers. She recommends that employees set clear goals, reach out to supporters, build and exercise influence, and then execute to achieve their goals.
If you want to become independent, you’ll need to manage your own plan to grow and keep your skills up to date so they don’t become obsolete. You’ll also want to create marketing plan to grow your business, and stick to a budget to keep your finances in line.
Remember, how much you’re paid will depend on your skills, experience, and ability to market for those needs.
Your skills and abilities are unique to you, and it’s up to you to choose how you utilize them. While there are certainly a number of factors that go into determining whether or not you should make the ‘leap’ to independence, know that much of it is mental.
Looking at your career through the entrepreneurial lens of the self-employed can help you to see your talents in a new light, and encourage you to take action to achieve your goals.
How to determine if self-employment is right for you. Use these five traits to assess your readiness and identify areas you can work on.
As a consultant you may work alone, but if you choose to form a group or network of subcontractors here's who you should recruit.