Twenty years ago this month, I packed up the personal belongings from my desk into a box and left the corporate world. It was both scary and exciting! I’ve learned a ton over the past two decades based on my own experience as well as talking with many others who have done the same.
Here are a few observations if you’re considering venturing out on your on now or in the future..
Safe is too risky
People often tell me that they would like to go solo but they like the “safety” of working for a big company. But how safe is a corporate job? I’ve spoken with many people who were let go from their job because of a change in the market, a downturn in the economy, or as the result of their company being acquired.
There’s no such thing as lifetime employment. And there is no such thing as a safe job.
However, there is relative safety if you work for yourself, which brings me to the idea of income diversity.
The portfolio theory of work
An important fundamental of investing and financial security is diversification. Spreading your money among different asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and collectables means you’re balancing risk and reward. If you have all your money in one company’s stock or one asset class such as crypto, you’re at the mercy of market volatility.
The same thing is true of work. When you are fully committed to one company, or if you devote an entire career to one industry, you’re at the mercy of the downturns. With a traditional job, you run the risk of having your income go to zero if your employment is terminated.
However, if you strike out on your own, you can build your work around diversity of income streams. For example, I deliver presentations and advise companies in different industries and in many countries. And I generate revenue from several different sources including book royalties, speaking fees, coaching income, online learning program subscriptions, and a few other projects.
Begin planning your move well before you quit your job
There are many things you can be doing right now, while you are still employed, to prepare for an eventual career transition. You can get active on social media if you aren’t already, and you can begin building a personal website to highlight what you're great at.
When you’re ready to move, you should investigate the legal aspects of the work you plan to do, and if appropriate set up a legal entity, separate bank accounts, liability insurance, and government tax IDs. It is important to consult with legal professionals to make sure you are setting yourself up correctly for your business.
Be unique on the web
People ask me why I use my middle name in my professional endeavors. It's simple: There are so many David Scotts out there! Some of us are famous -- one David Scott walked on the moon as commander of Apollo 15, a David Scott is a six-time Iron Man Triathlon Champion, and another David Scott is a US Congressman. Certainly good company, but to stand out and for search engine optimization, I chose to become unique among my fellow David Scotts.
If you use your name or create a company name for your business, make sure that people can find you!
Have fun and bring passion!
People are naturally attracted to those who are passionate about the things they love, and this passion builds fandom. Yet too few people share their personal passions in their business life.
When my daughter Reiko and I were conducting research for our Wall Street Journal bestseller Fanocracy: Turning Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans, one of the most surprising things we learned was the power of passion. There is no doubt passion is infectious.
Sharing your passion isn’t just about attracting others who share the same love as you, rather it shows that you are an interesting person and would be good to work with.
Bringing passion is good for business. And good for the soul too.
Venturing out on your own is a challenge. For me it has been super rewarding in many ways. Perhaps it would be for you too.