Changing your (career) view.

2016-10-11-12-25-41A friend recently asked for my views on whether to look for a new job or take the plunge into working for herself given some changing dynamics in the business she’s in and it was a fascinating thing to watch myself with. My initial reaction was to avoid the question for a few days – my own decision was made so unexpectedly and almost entirely based on intuition that I’m not sure I’m qualified to help someone make it thoughtfully!

But I do now, I guess, have perspective on the ups and downs of where it’s lead me. So the best I could do eventually was say here are the pros and cons of it all – to be taken with pinches of salt and preferably wine!



  • Major pro: the luxury of managing your own time – this has been huge for me! I love what I do, and have never been afraid to work or worried about getting things done, so the freedom to choose when / how / where I work has been a massive pro. I love the flexibility and the lack of having to clock in and out, however flexible it may be. As long as you’re the kind of person who knows the work will always get done, this is a true gift every day.
  • Flexible income potential: the other major pro is that you can choose how much / little work you do and scale your income that way. Obviously you do have to still find the work, which is the tricky part, but you still theoretically have the ability to increase your income if you take on more work which is totally different to corporate where even if they give you more work (or a whole new category to “take care of for a while”, ahem) the best you can hope for is a nominal thank-you additional payment. Now if I take on more work it’s worth my while.
  • Choose your work: this has also been a much bigger pro than I expected. The ability to choose who you work with and for, and – really! – in some cases to turn down work or not renew because of the people / values / disorganisation etc is a real benefit that I have absolutely loved. It is so great to work on things and for people you really believe in. This also extends to being able to be involved in other businesses and other potential income streams more easily and freely than if you work for a corporate – they tend to be very sticky about sideline businesses which makes it hard to diversify your income streams more. It also brings huge growth in new areas if you’re willing to splutter a little along the way, and hopefully new income streams now or in the future.



  • Lack of certainty about income: this is the biggy, really. I work on long term contracts (usually 1 year at a time, sometimes 6 months at a push) and this is the ONLY way I have managed my anxiety around predictable and reliable income. If I hadn’t made that decision early on I would have given this up a very long time ago!  But it’s hard to find those long term contracts, so there is still a much larger degree of uncertainty than knowing exactly where every pay-check is coming from.
  • Tax and admin: Really, it’s a total mission. And expensive – accountants, lawyers, red tape – all cost money! And of course there’s SARS behind it all too, you need to up-weight your cash flow and financial management knowledge seriously to keep ahead of saving for tax, for backup, for investment etc. It’s been a steep learning curve, but overall good for me despite how painful it can be.
  • Selling yourself: I hate this, as you can imagine. It’s totally against my grain, and I’m still pretty bad at sales and networking. I’ve gotten many of my clients through referral, so that is my main focus: do excellent work and that will help people refer you onwards. It works if you like the level I work at and don’t want to build an empire, but if you do want a building with your name on you need to do a lot of selling and networking!  I do, realistically, also think it’s harder to find work now than when I started. The global economic and political landscape is horrible, and people are more cautious. But it’s not impossible, and you just need to start like I did by contacting your whole network to let them know what you are doing – it’s often, as we know, about top-of-mind awareness.

You also need to think really carefully about what services you want to offer and where you feel you can offer most value – I’m always extremely, painfully clear that I do brand & marketing, and NOT sales! And I seem to have developed a niche for rebranding or creating & building brands which I love, but also theoretically is a limiting factor. It’s always a balancing act – find the focus without strangulating your potential to make a living.

So ultimately I think the key things you need to evaluate for yourself is where you sit on these two scales:

  1. Security vs Flexibility


  1. Potential unknown growth and opportunities VS Known growth and progression paths


I have had several meltdowns about whether contracts would be renewed and if I had enough savings to pay SARS dues etc etc, but days come and go and luckily I’m learning and feeling more in control each year, and despite everything I have not once regretted my decision, mad and spur-of-the-moment as it was. It is pretty much the best decision I’ve ever made, and it’s opened many amazing doors that I could never have predicted. But it’s a wild ride, lovely people, and not for the faint-hearted!

Go, be brave, find out new stuff – I wouldn’t change my crazy road for the world.

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