“Going portfolio means exchanging full-time employment for independence. The portfolio is a collection of different bits and pieces of work for different clients. The word “job” now means a client.” The Portfolio career, popularised by Charles Handy in his book “The Empty Raincoat”, 1994
First, the gloomy news. The idea of working for the same employer year after year is dead. Whether we may like to think of ourselves as indispensable, no one is and all employers are constantly reviewing which staff are core and which are, well, surplus to requirements. This means that those of you that are employed are either working excessively hard because your skills are in short supply or working excessively hard to prove your worth.
So why not break the cycle?
Is the sword of Damocles hanging over your full-time role?
So why not develop a career that allows you to do work on your own terms, do things that you are good at and, perish the thought, do things you enjoy?
Perhaps you should frame things differently so that rather than living the life of a mercenary, swapping time purely for money, you obtain reward through being in control, being happy, being effective and being appreciated by the people you do good work for.
This is the future of work and for many people this year it will transform their lives from one of survival from week-end to week-end to one of fulfilment, continual development and growing confidence.
Why is it the age of the Portfolio Career?
Swapping your old life-style for one where you might exist in a variety of guises (my work roles vary significantly - consultant, mentor, associate, volunteer, Director, non-exec, board member, project manager, blogger, entrepreneur, social enterprise partner, business network leader, business ambassador…) is easier than you think and particularly in 2016.
This is because:
Is a portfolio career right for everyone?
You could argue that there is so little stability in conventional employment that everyone should consider it. However, if you have a role where you happy and appreciated, don’t change! If you are developing your career and learning skills that will benefit you in the future then being part of a large organisation can provide invaluable support. In both these scenarios be aware that you are one new boss away from your world changing for the worse, so have a back-up plan!
On the other hand, if you feel that you can not move because you are trapped by earning a decent salary then think again – you can succeed in a portfolio world, but only if you change your mindset.
A portfolio career can feel like spinning plates. However the freedom of making your own choices can also be immensely empowering.
So how do you start?
So how easy is it to get going? The following five point plan is the best way to get going in your new lifestyle – it worked for me and I’ve used it to help many others:
1. Develop a plan. Take a day or so to write a plan to describe how your portfolio career will work. Make sure it covers:
3. Develop a brand. You now have to think about how you want to be perceived by the outside world. Be compelling, be passionate and be clear. Start preparing the marketing activities that will help you tell your story. Consider everything from business cards, your look, your social media and the networks you will need to develop.
4. Assemble the Building Blocks. Get a decent laptop and mobile, assign a bank account, and find the tools that will help you keep track of the business. Find helpful mentors and experienced professionals to support you. Most importantly, start developing a list of potential contacts – be rigorous about updating it.
5. Set your targets. Be clear on what you need to do, especially in the first six months. During this time it is probable that you will be spending the bulk of your time finding paid work but by being rigorous in achieving the necessary inputs this work will come. For instance, set yourself targets for meeting and connecting with new people, attending networks and being active on social media.
Based in Devon, UK, Chris Lorimer has a number of roles within his portfolio career, including coaching business executives who are looking to take the plunge. To contact him for advice, email him at email@example.com
Chris Lorimer is an
experienced consultant who has helped many organisations to grow through his unique 4 Ps approach.