If you’ve decided to leave conventional, full-time employment in order to freelance, set up your own business or build a portfolio career, these tips will help you to adjust to working independently and making a success of it.
- Be as prepared as you can be for a transition to independence. There are lots to think through and lots of setting up to do.
- Focus on what your main thing will be. Be clear about where you stand in your market and what differentiates you from the competition.
- Wake up every day thinking about your clients. They’ll be the most important thing for you and will drive any economic reward.
- Always make time to plan ahead for any interaction, so you can be as well prepared for it as you can be. Typically, those who’ve worked in corporate environments appreciate having more time for this difficult activity once they become independent.
- Get fit for the work that you do. Work hard, but also take time to relax and reflect. Don’t sit down all day long; take breaks to go for a walk or to the gym. Drink regular cups of tea. The natural rhythm of working in an organizational environment allowed you to automatically have those physical and psychological changes in environment throughout the day; now you have to engineer them into the day yourself.
- Build variety into your day and into your working week. Variety is the spice of life. This is so true when you work independently. We sometimes allocate specific times for very specific tasks, such as working on a particular project or doing our admin. This is all very good and healthy, but even more interesting and fun is building variety into those tasks.
- Think about who you’ll need. If you’re starting a business, you need people around you, such as an accountant or bookkeeper, to do the things you won’t have time to. If you’re doing freelance or contract work for yourself, you’ll have to think about who you might need to turn to for I.T. support, supplies of stationery and marketing and advertising.
- Think about how you work best when you’re travelling and how much travel you need to do rather than want to do. What sort of work will you do when you travel? What sort of work-related books and magazines will you take with you to help you learn on the go?
- Try not to overload yourself. Set your boundaries and think about how to protect them. Be very aware of the types of work that take the most energy. Get the best support that you can and don’t get distracted by work that others can do better than you. Sometimes budget comes into play and we have to do things we’d rather pay for, but as soon as you can afford to pay for them, do so, so that you can concentrate on the main thing.
- Don’t take anybody for granted, including yourself. Think about how you can best reward yourself in order to be able to sustain what it is you do and how you do it. Consider what to include in this rewarding process. Remember also that they’ll be a lot of stakeholders in your world who’ll deserve that recognition and reward from you.
About the author
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Follow him @PosIgnition