When I quit my job in 2010 to work for myself, I didn’t do it without a safety net. I had already secured two anchor clients. Anchor clients are contracts that provide a guaranteed stream of work for a defined amount of time, while you figure out your next move. When I left my job, I had one six-month contract and one 12-month contract. Financially, I was pretty set for my first year. Those initial contracts drastically reduced the monetary risk of self-employment.
It also helped to lessen the fear and drown out some of the questions plaguing my mind.
Would I make enough money to pay my bills?
Would anyone hire me now that I was fully on my own?
Would I die of failure and disappointment?
How did I get those “anchor clients?” By doing the same type of work I was doing at my old job. In fact, one of my contracts was with my former employer!
I had a great first year of self-employment. And I learned a ton of lessons along the way. One of them was that there’s more than one path to entrepreneurial freedom.
If you want to be “free” of the cubicle life, one of the easiest ways to start working for yourself is this right here:
Charge other companies money to have you do the same thing you do at your day job.
Sure, you might not like your day job, but there’s a huge difference between working for yourself doing work you don’t like and doing it on someone else’s terms.
Think of it as a stepping stone – hiring yourself out as a freelancer, contractor or consultant can give you the freedom you want right now instead of later. It will also begin to teach you all the hard lessons you will need to learn on the journey to working for yourself.
Here are some ways to start the process.
Seek Out Clients Through Your Current Professional Network
Depending on your area of experience and expertise, this can be done in different ways. For me, the “low hanging fruit” for speaking and consulting has always been to seek out clients through my existing network – which is nonprofit organizations. I blog about nonprofit issues as a marketing strategy, therefore I attract clients from the nonprofit field. Perhaps you can try this by feeling out your own network to find out who might need your services.
Build Your Safety Net
Keep in mind that it’s not always possible to start making money in a different career field right away. But using the experience you already have can give you a safety net. If you have expertise in your field, you may want to start consulting and then do your interior design or whatever on the side until it starts bringing in enough money to pay the bills.
Expand Your Definition of Freedom
Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I depends on what YOU want. If you want freedom, you can get that in various ways. You can still have freedom without getting paid to do exactly what you love. Freedom can simply mean working from home so you can have more time for YOU and all the things that make you happy.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs get discouraged when their passion doesn’t translate to big money right away. Sometimes it won’t. Maybe it never will. And that’s OK.
If you’re seeking that surefire path to working for yourself, there isn’t one. Switch gears for now.
You can always switch back.