More and more, the work world infringes on home life as professionals try to balance their career needs against personal time and end up feeling dissatisfied, frustrated, and exhausted. Working for yourself could be the solution to problems like the following:
It’s nearly bedtime, but you find yourself sitting at your laptop finishing a report the boss expects in the morning.
Your daughter’s soccer game starts in five minutes, but you’re a 30-minute commute away.
“In our modern culture, we are time poor, with too much focus on work and not nearly enough time for life,” says Aaron Zwas, an independent consultant and author of “Transition to Independence.”
Zwas says that’s all the more reason to take the reins of your career and work for yourself, adding flexibility to your work-life balance. It all adds up to a new level of freedom to pursue the things that matter to you most.
Zwas speaks from experience. Once a technical writer for a computer-software company, a series of events led him to make the break from his corporate job and venture out as an independent consultant. Working for himself allowed him to set his own schedule and work from home, all the while increasing his income by an average of 25 percent a year.
Zwas notes that the reasons to work for yourself are as varied as their circumstances. The 20-something college graduate, the mother or father who wants more flexibility while raising their young children, a stay-at-home mom returning to the workforce, or a middle manager recently laid off through down-sizing might all find their solution by going to work for themselves.
Zwas offers three reasons why going to work for yourself could be a good career move in 2016:
Career stability isn’t what it once was.
Zwas says macro-economic trends are changing how we work, and those changes are coming quickly. Those trends include the fact that blue-collar and white-collar jobs are moving overseas. With a higher value being placed on ideas, those who can articulate their expertise in a consulting capacity will gain an advantage over those who can’t. He also notes that employers are trying to minimize costs by shifting from full-time employees to a mix that includes freelance workers.
“They want to hire you only when they need you, just like you are a utility like water or electricity,” Zwas says.
Commuting can become a thing of the past.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the average American spends about 50 minutes a day commuting to and from work.
“That’s nearly an hour a day spent commuting,” Zwas says, adding, “what could you do with that extra hour if you had it back?”
The timing has never been better.
Zwas says that at no time in history has the barrier to entry for a new business been lower. For example, people don’t need a physical store, inventory, or employees. Zwas says his annual costs of running a consultancy from his home range from $2,000 to $5,000 annually, and the only time it reaches the high end of that range is when he buys a new laptop or creates a new website.
He says technology also makes it easier for an individual to accomplish what once required a small team. And if there’s something you can’t do, there are plenty of specialists — such as web designers, social-media experts, researchers, and others — available at reasonable per-hour rates.
Zwas says there’s money to be made by working for yourself, sometimes very good money in the six-figure range, but that’s not the primary reason to make the transition.
“This is not about making $1 million,” Zwas says. “This is about improving your quality of life. It’s about pursuing your passions, whatever they might be, while still being able to pay the rent.”
Aaron Zwas, the author of “Transition to Independence,” is a consulting journeyman with 15 years of independent experience as a strategic technology advisor. His T2I Plan (for “Transition to Independence”) provides a step-by-step plan that helps people move from traditional employment to a career as an independent consultant while minimizing the risks associated with career changes. His personal career has spanned the lifestyles of a travel writer, being young-and-single in New York City, and – currently ¬– as a suburban married father of three. Zwas has grown his salary by an average of 25 percent per year since founding Zwas Group in 2003 and is still able to spend significant time with his young family.