In the year 1995, Google hadn’t been invented yet, the then-admired Mel Gibson won the Academy Award for best director (Braveheart), and grunge goddess Alanis Morissette won the Grammy for best album (Jagged Little Pill). In November 1995, Crane Communications, LLC was born.
If I’d given birth to a human baby (rather than a virtual, business baby), that child would now be old enough to drive! As I’ve said many times, being an independent consultant is most certainly a viable long-term career path.
This entire blog, and now its sister, premium PRO membership site, is dedicated to the many tips and lessons learned – by both me and the rest of our community – over the years. But if I had to boil down what separates long-term successful solos from those who flourish for a time and then go back to traditional employment, I believe it comes down to the following:
1. Avoiding burnout – Regular readers have seen me beat this drum a million times: you have to proactively arrange to take breaks and vacations. Finding ways to unplug periodically is the only way you can recharge and keep going if you want this to be a marathon, and not a sprint!
2. Keeping cash reserves – This one can be challenging, especially in a difficult economy. But you never know when a client is going to be late to pay or a check will get lost in the mail. Having at least some liquidity will help you minimize panics, which in turn will make you happier with your business overall.
3. Challenging yourself – As an independent consultant, there may be times when you look up and realize you’ve been doing the same kind of work for a while. When this happens to me, I usually come to the realization that I’ve been subconsciously bored for some time.
Pushing your boundaries by finding new services to offer, pursuing different opportunities, and making new connections are all important ways to stay fresh in the long run. For me, this has included things like taking technical writing projects, launching the Solo PR Pro blog in 2008, and most recently the Solo PR PRO member site. It’s not easy to reach beyond our comfort zone, but as long as you’re doing this, it’s unlikely a corporate job will compete with the excitement you can make for yourself!
To all of you: my friends, colleagues, clients and co-workers, thank you so much for your support. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of champions and heroes to get to this point, and I’m humbled when I think about the journey.
If you’re in need of a pep talk or a champion, let us know in the comments (the Solo PR Pro community is here for you)! If you have additional tips for long-term success, please feel free to share below.
Congratulations on this incredible milestone and thank you for sharing your lessons and experiences so openly with us!
Congrats, Kellye! Thanks for all your work in building the solopr chats and community. Wish you much success in all future ventures, including the Solo PR member site.
Congrats- your success is certainly an inspiration!
Congratulations, Kellye! I’m looking forward to the day we can work together again.
Thank you, Karen — meeting great folks in the Solo PR community, like you, is one of the best things about this career path!
Much appreciated, Farida — same to you!
Thanks, Lindsay! Since I feel 16 years old myself, this is quite a strange milestone. 🙂
We’ve been knowing each other a looong time, my friend. As for working together, you know where to find me! 😉
Huge congratulations and a bear hug, Kellye! You’re double my solo years, and I hope to achieve even a fraction of your success. I’m definitely hitting the “bored” category here and there and need to make some changes. Luckily, I know what one of those is, so excited to start year #9!
Kellye congratulations on 16 years in biz!
I’m closing in on my one year anniversary and you’ve been an amazing resource for me! Thanks so much!
Congratulations Kellye! As a somewhat newly independent pro (on my own for almost two years now), I appreciate your wisdom and advice and am encouraged by your long-term success. Cheers!
As a solo in business for 4.5 years, I very much enjoyed — and agreed with — your post. I’ve also found that my job satisfaction is in direct proportion to the quality of my clients AND the quality of my independent collaborators.
I am so impressed. Im closing in on 7 years and the last two have been a challenge, with small clients, some fulfilling, some not so. I just recently started pitching new business in new industries, causing me to stretch and learn. It’s renewed my enthusiasm. But, I’d be lying if I don’t sometimes look at the job listings and think of how much easier that could be–and such a huge trade off.
Congratulations to you for your years and inspiring us to stay on track, that we can do this for the long-term.
Thanks, Jen. Can’t wait to hear what you’ll be up to in 2012!
Thank you, Sakita – the first year is a big one, so congrats to you!
Thanks, Rhiannon — comments like yours really make my day.
Great points, Bob. Enjoying those you’re working with is key!
Everyone has challenging periods, but it’s how you deal with them that marks the difference between those who stay in business and those who don’t. I think it’s good to remember how stressed out many of those with traditional jobs are these days — many are now doing the work of multiple people, and they never know when the ax might fall. Tough times can be tough on everyone, but you’re doing the right thing! Keep challenging yourself and staying passionate about what you’re doing, and you can weather the storms that come your way. Best of luck!