Most of us reckon our solo business ought to provide all our work, career and financial needs. But rather than going it alone all the time, maybe there are benefits to mixing your business with part time employment.
You may well wonder, what on earth am I, the avowed soloist, doing saying that it may be time to go over to the other side?
Well, I’ve had a little bit of a foray into employed life recently. My adventure into job-land was precipitated by some very pedantic professional development requirements.
As you’d expect, it offered an eye-opener into how flexible and autonomous my solo business is. Unexpectedly, though, it also made me appreciate there are definite advantages for soloists considering a “job on the side”.
Here are what I consider to be the main benefits:
When was the last time you knew exactly what you were going to make in the month or three months ahead? When you know what’s coming in, you can more confidently plan ahead rather than having “best outcome” plans and “bare bones” plans. No more being a slave to seasonal market trends..
On the job training
The range of work I’ve done in the job has meant that I’ve acquired a whole new set of skills and knowledge that I would never have come into contact with in my business. I’ve been able to see different systems in action and have seen what works and what doesn’t.
Being responsible only for your job
While there are certainly performance expectations, I don’t have to worry about getting new business, or curse when a client doesn’t show up, or when the monthly company income doesn’t come in on budget. I still get paid. I am responsible for the work I do and not the viability of the business.
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Supervisory and professional support
When I don’t know how to do something, I can get on the phone and ask someone who does. And whether it’s a professional or administrative question, I know there is someone who can assist.
It’s true that it’s not all beer and skittles, though. There are some aspects of working in a job I don’t like, such as the lack of autonomy, the set working hours and management practices that I may not agree with.
And sure, I don’t want to do it forever, but it certainly hasn’t been the soul-destroying experience I always envisaged “working for someone else” would be.
There have been benefits for my business as well. I see so many more opportunities to use my new skills and knowledge and new ways to develop my business. It also takes away that “desperately needing clients” attitude that I have to admit sneaks in when things get a bit quiet. I now approach things with “the clients will come” attitude.
I appreciate the flexibility that I have as a soloist. There’s nothing like knowing you can start work an hour later or indeed, take the day off, because you manage your own workflow.
My experience has enabled me to look at my solo business with fresh eyes, because I got to see it from a different perspective every day. I haven’t put all my eggs in one basket and am not so desperate that my solo business has to take on clients that I know aren’t ideal.
The main thing I’ve learned from crossing over into the Dark Side is that I’m not a lesser business person when I work another job, and I’m not a lesser employee when I pursue my real passions outside of business hours.
Perhaps we need to get away from a “one right way” to be a business owner attitude, after all there are a multitude of opportunities to make a living…and a life…before us.
Well best go now. I have a full day at the “job” tomorrow: researching ways to improve my client database!