In a rapidly changing world economy, a steady lifetime employment with your company is not something one should take for granted. Layoffs are becoming all too common, and the only way you can deal with the possibility of losing your job is to be prepared for the eventuality.
There are two clichés to keep in mind here: "Don't put all your eggs in the same basket" and "Don't rest on your laurels." This means having a side income or developing one and never stopping learning new skills.
Many people with a full-time job and family responsibilities probably will find it difficult to work a second job, but you can ease yourself into it gradually, taking on small assignments to start out with, polishing and adding to your knowledge base as you go along, and building yourself a good network of contacts.
Once you've built up a good client base and are earning a good income, you can make self-employment a full-time reality.
You can either become self-employed in the field you already are in or you can follow a hobby or a passion. Many people have established successful careers in writing, art, music, carpentry, etc., by exploring the career possibilities offered by their passions more thoroughly.
Doing what you love is the best career choice. And then there are the obvious benefits of self-employment: being your own boss, keeping your own work hours, having more flexible time, having more time for your family, not having to spend time commuting, working in your pajamas, having more work satisfaction, to name a few.
You must be prepared to work to a regular schedule, show initiative, get clients, retain them and get new ones, make enough money, keep your accounts, pay your bills and taxes, make your own pension plan, etc. If you're ready to take up this challenge, you can face any hurdle. The first thing to do is to assess your current situation realistically.
What do you want to do?
- You can continue doing what you already do.
- You can take up any of your current hobbies.
- You can turn in an entirely different direction and do something entirely new.
Have a brainstorming session. List all the probable and improbable things that come to your mind that you'd like to do. Yes, sea-diving for pearls, exploring volcanoes, and babysitting lion cubs can make it to the list. Don't turn up your nose at anything as an impossibility; people have made careers out of many unconventional activities.
How well can you do what you want to do?
- You can brush up your current knowledge or acquire additional skills.
- You can learn everything from scratch.
- You can learn new skills on your own, or you can get professional training.
Is there a market for the skills you have?
- You can research the market for your skills and find out exactly what is required.
- You can check what people already in the field are doing and how well they are faring. Even if they are not faring well, it doesn't mean you won't. This is just to get an idea of what you can expect.
- You can study these professionals and find out how the business is conducted from self-presentation to work-presentation to dealing with clients, etc.
If there isn't a market, can you create a niche for yourself?
- You can invent a nice practical thing that makes such a difference in people's lives that they can't live without it. Think of the Internet; it wasn't in the business before it was invented.
- You can come up with a nice, impractical thing that everyone loves and buys for a great deal of money. For instance, the smiley face stickers and musical greeting cards; bought by a large portion of the population, they do bring in plenty of cash.
- You can specialize in an unusual skill that no one else has a clue about and so need you to provide it. For instance, how to extract the antidote for the lethal bite of a rare beetle.
Do you have enough money to support your self-employment plans?
- You can concentrate better on your new work if you have no immediate financial worries.