I meet many managers, executives, professionals, job seekers and people of any kind who think about starting their own career as an independent business owner, either as a freelance consultant or a CEO of a company. In this blog post I would like to go into details, why it is so much easier these days than ever before to create your own career.
What I mean by corporate freelancing is working on a project as a specialist within a corporation. This could be an IT Consultant, Project Manager or any other type of profession. You work in the project for 3-6 months and move on. This model is very common in the corporate world. Actually Michael Port mentions in his book “Book yourself solid“, that every 4th individual in the US is working independently. The numbers in Europe might be much smaller and this is an advantage because the competition is smaller.
I used to recruit for freelancers for many years in the corporate world. I worked with large international companies all over Switzerland to fill their contracting positions. It used to be very lucrative for corporate freelancers and at peak times, a Java Developer was paid up to CHF 250.- per hour. These days are long gone. Today, the rate is usually less than half of that, because companies outsource to abroad and the competition in the candidate’s market in steadily growing, and fast.
It is still more lucrative to work as a freelancer or contractor than it is to work in a full-time permanent job. The average freelance consultant in the US, according to Michael Port, earns 15% more than a similarly skilled permanent employee. I know in Switzerland, this is even higher and can be between 20-50% in some cases for exactly the same job but without overtime and corporate politics.
There is another kind of freelance consultant out there. By non-corporate freelancing I mean working with individuals or small businesses. This form is much less known than the corporate freelancing. It requires much more initial effort to set up (not in terms of costs but time) but the potential rewards are exponentially higher because you can turn your services into products or hire other people to serve your clients.
A great example here is the Project Management Podcast. Cornelius Fichtner started it a while ago and is highly successful. He is originally Swiss.
It has never been easier than today to set up this kind of business model, mainly because of the rise of the internet and social media. In the past you had to talk to people one by one, one minute spent on your side, one minute spent on theirs. If you wanted to multiply your efforts you had to have employees or send out expensive mailings.
Then, there was email. It was much easier and free to talk to many people at once. You were able so send out an email to 100 people without your service provide banning you for spamming. However, people could only talk to an email address, if you included a signature and a picture, you were ways ahead of everybody else.
Today, you can reach thousands of people through a blog and social media in an instant. People can see exactly what you are up to, what your interests are, your passion, your values, your expertise and much more through social media like LinkedIn. Before you ever talk to somebody personally on the phone or face to face, you feel like you know them already. This is great news because your potential clients can get to know you very well and you don’t have to trade one minute from your time for one minute of theirs.
What type business should you start?
Many people don’t know where to start. They don’t know what they should “sell” or how they could generate an income through freelance consulting. I attended a program a few months ago that lead me to start by blog jordico.com. It included a simple exercise with 4 steps.
1. What is your ultimate goal with your business? Fame, fortune, fun, connections, change? Be as specific as possible?
For me, it is the goal to revolutionize the recruitment industry because I think it is broken. My goal is push forward a new model, where employees and employers connect on their values, passion and interests because recruitment is a 100% people based business and can never be “automated”. Recruitment is an art and standardized processes and regulations interfere with the art.
2. Make a list of topics you have:
a) experience in
b) an interest in and
c) an intense passion for
Give yourself some time to write down a list for all the points and brainstorm. Make it very detailed.
3. Review the list of topics against your goals and criteria.
Cross check a), b) and c) and eliminate the topics that don’t match.
4. Make a short list of 3 of your favorites from the remaining list
My list of topics consisted of many things and in the end the cleared list showed:
- Social Media
- Coaching, Consulting, Training
Therefore I started jordico.com to combine all three parts and it has been an amazing journey so far.
Use blogging as a personal branding tool
Starting a blog has been one of my best decisions ever. The worst thing about it is that I procrastinated starting it for about 5 years. The most important part is just to start. You don’t need a 50 pages business plan or venture capital to start a service based business. Of course planning is important, if I would not plan, I certainly would have no idea what my audience wants to hear and where I am heading. But starting as soon as possible completely outweighs a detailed business plan.
Use social media to spread the word
When I started my blog, I did not even think about marketing. I just wanted to get all the thoughts I had about job search in Switzerland out of my head and I started to write them down in my blog. Then I posted my articles on LinkedIn and because people liked what they saw, they came over to my website and keep coming back.
How long does it take to generate an income?
That of course depends on what you are doing with your business. It took me exactly 56 days to get my first paid client the way I did it in just a few hours per week. Many people are looking for a new job for 6-9 months these days.
Would it not be smart to build your own career in this time, even when it’s just along your job search?
What if you started today to build your own service based business and in 2-3 months you start generating some income along your job search?
Would it hurt if you built your personal brand while looking for a job?
I think the answers are clear. Looking for a job the traditional way is not getting easier and the competitions is certainly not becoming less. If you build your own personal brand and get a job in 2 months and you can only continue blogging for a few hours per week or month, you will still be ways ahead of everybody else when you are looking for your next challenge, because people will know who you are. And these days, nobody stays in the same job for a lifetime anymore.
What can you do right now to start your own career?
1. Buy the book “Book yourself solid” from Michael Port
2. Do the exercise mentioned above