The 2013 State of Independence in America divides their survey’s respondents into what they call “task takers” and “job makers.” It’s a useful distinction because it highlights two very different but parallel tracks that contract workers have open to them.
“Task Takers vs. Job Makers”
When you work for an employer full-time for a specified period the report would categorize you as a “task taker;” you have skills and abilities that the employer needs and you provide them for a price. The second track which they term “job makers” is building your individual business. Now you are taking your skills and abilities, adding your analysis of the challenges and opportunities in the work you do, and building your own products/services that you can offer directly to customers/clients. This second option within the more independent workforce can help to stabilize your working life because you no longer have to depend on employers having a job. You “create” a job by pointing out a need and proposing to solve it. That’s why MBO Partners call it “job making.” This is often called freelancing or consulting and when you are successful you build yourself into a business, i.e. become an entrepreneur.
The Three Skills for Successful Business Building
1. Analyze your work: What are the frequent problems or common challenges? Can you devise solutions that you can provide for a fee? The two major business models for consulting are either providing analysis for a difficult problem (the service is providing the knowledgeable outsider’s perspective) or providing solutions for problems that often occur and need specialized attention when they do. Those who have worked short term in a number of companies often have a unique variety of experience which can help them do this analysis. Other sources of ideas are your network of managers and peers, industry or function blogs or magazines, and new technological advances that can be applied to these problems/challenges you identify.
2. Find a source of customers: What are the characteristics of your potential customers? Are they companies that have just undergone significant growth? Are they smaller organizations in specific areas that are unlikely to have full-time employees with the expertise you would provide?
3. Local libraries with strong business resources can often help you find companies with the characteristics you are searching for if you go to the reference librarians with specific questions. They can also help you identify professional organizations aimed specifically at the function/industry where your product/service would be most useful. Your network may also be a great feeder for potential clients.
4. Price your product/service: This too is a skill based on understanding not just the hours spent but also the taxes and retirement contributions you should be making as well as the customer’s mindset. A number of approaches exist and you can find discussions of pricing on a number of freelancing sites that can help you clarify your thinking.
Spending time creating your own jobs is a useful option for your downtimes. It can provide increased economic stability, and keeps your skills fresh. Many individuals are involved in both tracks at least until their entrepreneurial efforts become popular enough to keep them busy full time. Are you ready to take your career to the next level?
The State of Independence in America
Sally Power, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and personal consultant accelerating successful career transitions.