Which model to choose when working for yourself.
Job security is no longer guaranteed, and a result, many more people are opting to take control of their future and start their own businesses. Additionally, technology has made it so much easier to do this, with just a quick online search you now have access to unlimited resources, funding, software, market research, and networking opportunities from around the world.
Being one’s own boss can be both exhilarating and rewarding but it isn’t for everyone.
Statistically speaking most new ventures fail, only around half survive the first 5 years.
Yet despite its challenges working for yourself offers a wonderful and unique opportunity to live life on your own terms, to make money doing what you love and to choose where and how you want to live and work.
In fact, never before in the history of the world has there been such an opportunity – as there is right now – for you to make an impact while working for yourself.
Yet it can be confusing with so many different ways of doing it. Which one do you choose?
My Journey as a Social Entrepreneur
During my career journey I have tried many different ways of working, often without realising the model at the time, and also supported hundreds of the other businesses to succeed in theirs. e.g.
- While working as a charity manager my role was often that of an intraprenuer i.e. a manager within a company who promotes innovative product development and marketing.
- As a project manager I have both helped develop & advise many social & community businesses.
- I am now a Director of my own Ltd company, working as a freelancer and consultant.
- I am also co-founder of a social enterprise which has a Board of Directors, Advisory Board and volunteers – it is set up as a CIC with it’s social purpose written into its governing documents.
- I could also now be classed as a solopreneur, as I move away from freelancing, to develop and deliver my own online programmes & courses.
So what are the different models of working for yourself and which might you want to use yourself?
A freelancer offers services, often working on several jobs for multiple clients at one time. It refers to the type of work being carried, it isn’t a legal status such as a sole trader or limited company (a freelancer can have either). Freelancers usually earn money on a per-job basis, charging hourly or daily rates for their work and the work is usually short-term. To be an ethical freelancer you must ensure that how you run your business and those you work with embed the triple bottom line ‘people, planet, profit.’.
A social entrepreneur works to solve a social or environmental problem through a business, normally using money (preferably someone else’s) to build a business bigger than themselves. Entrepreneurs focus on growth and on scaling the systems that they build. If you want to take risks, change the world, and have a diverse skill-set, entrepreneurship might be the better option for you. However it is hard work, especially during the early years, and requires a lot of self-promotion and networking, so to succeed it is really something you need to feel deeply driven to do.
Is there another way? The rise of the online solopreneur
A solopreneur sets up and runs a business on their own. This could be seen as a middle way between being a freelancer and social entrepreneur. It is increasingly attractive to those of us who want to work for ourselves from home, with a good quality of life and without the stresses which come with pursuing business growth and managing a team. You might choose to work with other freelancers or contractors, yet you have the full responsibility for the running of the business. The work can be delivered in a range of ways eg. freelancing, consulting or e-commerce. The main route to scaling it is through delivering digital products online.
In reality, at least at the beginning, your work may be a mix of the above e.g. I am currently transitioning my freelancing to working as a solopreneur through delivering online courses, while I am also a social entrepreneur working as part of a team.
If you are a woman working for yourself, or are just starting out, you might want to join our Women In Sustainability (WINS) meetings for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
To explore hot topics with other women in sustainability, who are already working for themselves, or seriously thinking about it. So come ready to explore your challenges, hopes and fears around how to successfully work for yourself. There are no stupid questions, so come armed with yours!
For more information and if you would like to receive a free copy of my ‘50 Top Tips for Female Social Entrepreneurs’ then please do get in touch [email protected] Traci Lewis @TraciLewis79 Linkedin; Co-founder & Director, Catalyse Change CIC Women In Sustainability Bristol hub.