Not everyone is cut out to work independently, and and there’s nothing wrong with recognizing that solo life isn’t for you.. While most of us wouldn’t trade this career path for anything, if you’re considering taking the leap to self-employment, ask yourself if you possess any of these characteristics first:
Are You A Highly Social Animal?
Do you love to hang out by the coffee machine at work and chat? People who receive energy from working in close proximity with others for extended periods of time may have difficulty adjusting to life with limited external stimulation. Sure, even solos use the phone, attend meetings, and jump into social media discussions. But those in-between spaces are when solos are most productive, and likely feel the most fulfilled. For solo-oriented pros, water cooler talk may be the source of more frustration than relief from afternoon tedium.
Does Networking Make You Cringe?
After the point above, this one may sound counterintuitive, but successful solo pros are capable of quickly, easily slipping into networking mode for new business or when a job calls for it. If in-person events make you want to hide in the bathroom while downing your double-fisted drinks, you may want to re-think hanging out your shingle. Networking is an absolute must for developing a client base and building a web of acquaintances in key positions.
Do You Prefer To Take Anothers’ Lead?
No judgements here – this world of ours requires all types of people to run it, from dreamers to planners to doers. Achieving success on your own means, by definition, that you’re comfortable setting goals, making recommendations, and defending decisions. The person on point is you.
Are You Looking For A Smooth Ride?
Think about the picturesque 9-to-5 gig where good people show up, do good work, and go home to their personal lives. Yeah, well, being solo can be the complete opposite of that. If you don’t want to work crazy hours while juggling 9 bouncing balls and have your mind race at all hours (“Did I remember to send that conference report?”), then you may want to re-think going solo. Or have the budget for a virtual assistant, at least. There’s probably not a solo out there who doesn’t have days when he/she wished for a clock to punch.
Are You Financially Capable?
Nothing says “you’re on your own now ” like managing the books, paying vendors, and following-up on late receivables, and it also brings the practical necessity of positive cash flow into sharp relief. If you carry high balances on your credit cards, squeak by paycheck to paycheck, or have a spouse in a precarious job situation, you may want to resolve core issues before trying to venture out on your own. Combined with a financial cushion in the bank, the ability to delay the instant gratification of impulse purchases is a key skill for the successfully self-employed.
If You’ve Got the Goods
The most successful solos are people whose work is talked about. They leave a trail of happy clients and co-workers behind them, and have done this for most of their careers. Long hours, clattering away at a keyboard, often fly by before we realize it’s time to close down for the night.
If you’re an indie consultant, what do you think are the key qualities we need to possess? Any potential pitfalls those considering consulting should keep in mind?