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.