Women today who run their own solo and micro businesses are leading the advancement of their demographic in the corporate arena. In fact, there are more women independent workers in this country (8.5 million) than stay-at-home moms (5.4 million). While women make up less than half (47%) of the traditional workforce, they make up 53% (8.5 million) of the independent workforce.
Wherever you fall on the ability to "have it all" debate, it is increasingly clear that women do have choice. Women can boldly march toward the boardroom, step off the ladder to raise a family or create their own combination of work-life success with an independent career.
The benefits of an independent career are clearly reflected in the reason women choose this path: more flexibility (65%), control of own schedule (64%), and being one's own boss (59%). Yet, like all career choices, there are pros and cons for women independents.
Nationally-recognized women's work-life and career expert, speaker, and author Kathy Caprino, MA encourages women to consider independence. "You may find that your style, preferences, and your way of doing things fit the independent life a thousand times better than the traditional corporate path."
For women considering an independent career, fit is a key consideration. The pros and cons of independence are often two sides of the same coin, depending on your individual perspective.
Pro: You're in charge
Con: You're in charge
Caprino says, "You call the shots, you build the team, you're the evangelist, you are accountable and I consider that a pro. However, on the flip side, you're it. So in the beginning you may have to do everything."
Pro: You can design your own path
Con: Independence is filled with uncertainty
An independent career allows you to chart your own course. You define how, where and with whom you will work. You can choose your area of expertise and broaden it when you choose by adding new skills. You are not limited to the hierarchy of a corporate organizational chart or job description.
The freedom, however, of an uncharted course inherently has uncertainty. There are no guarantees as an independent. You may have gaps in income. You may lose a client. You can choose the wrong path, and will need to regroup and develop a new strategy. Anything can happen - and that is both an advantage and disadvantage of a solo career.
Pro: You create your own career ladder
Con: You have to find your own motivators
Traditional employment challenges us to consistently build upon our career. Whether you move up or laterally, the very nature of work inspires us to keep growing and reaching new goals. At least annually, you have an opportunity for thoughtful reflection and planning your next step.
Growth and opportunity keep us energized and engaged in our career. In fact, it may be the reason many women opt for independence. As an independent however, it is easy to neglect your professional development as you try to manage the day to day of running your solo business. Without continuing to nurture your own growth, you can either become bored or burned out.
Kathy Caprino offers this summary, "You have to embrace risk and uncertainty and you have to believe in you to keep that momentum going. You have to believe in yourself, even when the evidence around you is seemingly refuting that you have what it takes."
An independent career can be the right choice for any woman. You have the latitude to be in complete control of your work life. A solo career can allow you to create that elusive work-life balance by allowing you to design work on your own terms. It can also be deeply fulfilling to choose work that challenges and excites you. Knowing the pros and cons will allow you to decide if and when independence is right for you.
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