When I left Uni, there was nowhere like Flying Solo to help guide those looking to go it alone. If I mentioned my aspirations to others, they’d often say “Oh, like Richard Branson?” And I’d smile politely while thinking “Not really.”
In the absence of feeling understood and unable to find a like minded community, my solo career took far longer to get off the ground than it might have.
I’d try and explain that while I wanted autonomy, a means of expression and to do something significant, I did not want an empire or, particularly, masses of money. This often met with confused looks by friends, who were more focused on external success signals and, yes, money. They wanted to work with reputable companies who could offer decent salaries. This got compounded when mortgages and marriages became the ties that bound them to their work, in some cases with golden handcuffs.
No so for me. I avoided commitment like the plague and it wasn’t until after I’d hot footed it to Australia in the late 1990s that I flirted with corporate life.
How I hated it! The red tape, the politics, the committees taking ideas down cul-de-sacs and quietly strangling them. My hunch that it was not for me proved right. I am indebted to that experience, though, firstly because it gave me the boot towards soloism I needed and secondly it enabled me to save up enough to cushion my transition there.
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When the soloist in me finally emerged, it was like a long suppressed secret coming up for air and the ‘real’ me came to light. I was terrified, exposed and exhilarated as I entered the marketplace for the first time.
So what was your experience when you first decided to try working for yourself? Share your recollections below, there’s a good chance we’ll be giving some hesitant lurkers just the nudge they need.