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.