Interim or enduring self-employment can be a liberating, creative career path

Posted in: Career Change

In the current difficult business environment, active exploration of self-employment can be a constructive area to explore.

For the most part, the senior people we work with focus on capturing another regular appointment.  However more than a few invest some of their time to focus on new, self-employed ventures – and this is often a creative and valuable investment of time.

Self-employment might include:

  • Winning some directorships
  • Starting a business, or consultancy
  • Buying or buying into a business
  • Mentoring others in start-ups
  • “Angel investing”
  • Joining a business coaching or consultancy group
  • Interim executive appointments, with a clear end-point, as a staging period before taking up a more enduring role
  • Advisory work with non-profits
  • Teaching – perhaps in a tertiary institution
  • Combinations of some of these things, in a portfolio career

Our aim is to fully resource careful exploration of directions such as these, and to provide an environment in which to reality test their viability. Sometimes we are playing a modest role in what becomes a new, liberating and flexible career – one which draws on years of corporate experience in the individual being applied to new markets.

Sometimes the individual moves well down this path, but is then hijacked by an offer (of regular employment) which is simply too tempting.

However, the journey and the enthusiasm generated in the individual itself plays a role:  people in this situation become more rather than less attractive in the broader marketplace.  If this happens, the business concept is parked, for another day and another time for the individual.

In testing new ventures, we have learnt the value of helping individuals work through a bunch of threshold questions:

  • Who exactly will be your customers?
  • What value will they experience working with you?
  • What makes you special and different?
  • How will you reach them? (a critical issue!)
  • Have you tested your thinking on these questions with a range of people who are like prospective customers?
  • How will you invest in marketing (exploration of needs) and sales (capturing business)?
  • Will the revenue won be sufficient to make the investment of time worthwhile?
  • Are you buying an income for a period, or building a venture which can later be sold?
  • Have you built a business plan, laying out assumptions, your marketing plan, projected revenue and costs?
  • Have you identified risks, put some boundaries around financial exposure?  (In other words: thresholds around outlays and time periods, which if exceeded will lead to you folding the venture and trying something else)

There are more issues to work through – and as well personal factors to consider. (One of these is a willingness to be a jack of all trades in the early period).

Self-employment can take many directions – and each needs to be supported with effective research, extensive materials and “experienced advice “ – and this is what we set out to provide.  (This is a major differentiator for us, as compared with other career strategy service providers.)