A 2016 employment study by a team from Harvard, Princeton and NBER and highlighted in Quartz found that, of the jobs created from 2005-2015, 94% were temporary, on-call, contract or freelance. Are you prepared for the increasing impermanence of employment? An increasingly contingent workplace means you will need to be more self-reliant and create your own opportunities — essentially moving from traditional employment to entrepreneurship. If you never planned to go into business for yourself, here are six ways to build that entrepreneurial capacity:
Stay traditionally employed but at a start-up
You don’t need to start your own company to experience a start-up. You can increase your entrepreneurial capacity but still within the confines of traditional employment by working on payroll at a start-up. If you’ve historically been in a big company environment, this will be a change of pace and culture – fewer resources, flatter structure, more entrepreneurial colleagues. Roles at start-ups are often wider in scope, giving you an opportunity to develop new skills altogether and practice juggling the skills and priorities you already have.
Stay where you are and find a “start-up” at your current employer
Look for intrapreneurial opportunities — ways to launch or build something within your current company. If your employer wants to open a new office or launch a product, see if you can work on that start-up initiative. Some companies have incubator groups to make starting something a formal part of the job. Some companies invest in the start-up ideas of employees to retain their employees and get a stake in a promising business. If your company doesn’t offer intrapreneurship (it’s too small, it’s just not innovative), look at other companies, where you can still find a job on payroll but with intrapreneurial potential.
Stay where you are and focus your work on your employer’s bottom line
If you had to offer your services as a freelancer, how would you quantify your value? The closer your role is to influencing the bottom line – generating revenue, saving costs, improving profit margins – the more valuable you will be. When your work impacts the bottom line, you essentially pay for yourself. Even if you were still to lose your job (for example, a restructuring eliminates everyone in your group), focusing your set of skills so that it directly impacts the bottom line will better enable you to convince future employers to hire you. Tangible skills with a clear ROI also improve your value as a freelancer, if you do decide to move from traditional to contingent employment.
Turn your employer into your client
If you know that freelancing is for you, you still may not have to leave your employer entirely, if you turn your employer into your client and keep working there but as a freelancer. Moving from payroll to contract status means you lose your benefits, paid vacation time, and other perks. However, this might be the right move for you if you want the flexibility to take on other projects or to better control what tasks you perform for your employer. You might be able to earn more freelancing for your former employer than when you worked there on payroll (you should charge a higher hourly rate than your former salary to compensate for loss of benefits). When I launched my business ten years ago, several of my former employers became early clients, which helped to jumpstart my business. After all, your former employer knows you and hopefully likes and trusts your work.
Experiment with a side gig
Before you transition off payroll altogether, you can experiment with freelancing on the side. Freelance writer Nancy Monson got her start in writing as a side gig to her first career (acting). You too can carve out a few hours per week to work on projects outside your current employer (check your company’s policies on taking on additional employment). The fastest way to start would be to focus on a tangible skill you know well and that has demand in the freelance market — tech skills, marketing, financial analysis, research. Think also of skills outside the professional arena — babysitting, tutoring, pet care. If you’re experimenting with a side gig to gauge your interest and affinity for entrepreneurship, it doesn’t matter what skill you try first. Know that you can switch to a different business later, but to start, pick the fastest trade that will land you clients.
Buy into entrepreneurship with a franchise
Finally, if you do want to jump into entrepreneurship but want some support, consider a franchise. Joyce Mariner was traditionally employed as a cop for 25 years before launching a cruise planning franchise. Mariner credits her franchise with providing a brand name, training, and collective buying power, giving her business a running start. If your hesitation to starting a business is a lack of support and structure, a franchise might be a solution to this. However, franchising is not for everyone. Dr. John Hayes, author of the new book Take the Fear Out of Franchising offers a free fit assessment at howtobuyafranchise.com because the upfront cost of buying into a franchise represents a serious financial investment:
There are 3,400 different franchise opportunities - all different. Are you really going to risk $100,000 to $500,000 without knowing if you're a good fit? Sadly many do! Do not buy a franchise until you know you're a good fit. Definitely don’t do it if you do not like following directions. You WILL be required to do it the franchisor's way - not your way. – Dr. John Hayes
With 94% of new jobs created falling into the contingent work category, it implies that more workers will need to plan their careers more like entrepreneurs than traditional employees. Any one of these six options can help ease the transition. Leave a comment if you moved from employment to entrepreneurship and what worked for you!
Originally published on August 10, 2017 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau