Yesterday I spent a few hours over coffee with a friend, brainstorming ideas for her next career steps.

She’s at one of those tricky forks in the road, where you’re not sure whether to keep doing your own thing… or jump ship for a ‘proper’ job… or do something else entirely.

We chewed things over, and came to the conclusion that maybe she had a viable business already, but it just needed a bit of fine-tuning. There’s a ‘maybe’ in that sentence because I’m still not sure what she’s going to do next…

Self-employments comes with as many benefits as it does responsibilities.

You get to call the shots, but it’s your fault if a project falls short.

You get to work whenever you want, but you have to be disciplined enough not to work from bed in your pyjamas.

You get to reap the financial rewards of your effort, but it’s always going to be your job to call the accounts department and chase that overdue invoice.

So how do you decide whether to build your own businesses or stay in your current role?

If you’ve taken my 7 Things You Should Do Before Going Freelance course, you’ll know I’m a strong advocate for flying solo. Working for yourself can be life-changing in the best possible sense. But I don’t recommend it to everyone - especially not people at the beginning of their careers.

When you’re starting out, there’s nothing like being surrounded by people with years of experience. That first 6 months in a job is a priceless baptism of fire, where you’re continually learning new skills and adapting (or shedding) old ones. All with a crucial safety net — because if you mess up, you’ll still get paid.

Of course when working for yourself, that safety net isn’t there. But the flip side is you get to decide exactly what does/doesn’t happen with your clients.

Or to reverse coin a well known phrase: With great responsibility comes great power.

It might sounds like I’m sitting on the fence here. Well guess what, I’m now in a unique position to do so — because I’m currently doing both at once. I spend 3 days a week at a design studio, and 2 days a week running my own design practice (and writing this blog, in theory at least haha).

Choosing between self-employment and working for someone else doesn’t have to be a binary decision. What’s right for you will change over time, as your career and your life(style) do likewise.

Full-time, flexitime, or working part-time for a company, and part-time for yourself like I do. The world of work is increasingly flexible, and I say “Amen!” to that.

Questions to ask when you find yourself at a fork in your career path

Yes it’s a long and winding road. But it’s your road. And the best person to ask for directions is yourself.

What new skills would I like to learn?

What skills that I already have aren’t being made use of in my current role?

Which parts of my current job do I enjoy?

(‘Enjoy’ being a loose term here, because there are parts of any job that suck. Another way to approach this is to ask yourself which parts of your job do you find flow in? The tasks that you sit down to do, and end up being so absorbed by, that you completely lose track of time)

And the most important question of all…

Does the kind of work I do enable me to live the kind of life I want?

Posted to life, freelancing in 2018.

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