Treadmill

6 steps towards independent work

KindredHQ‘s Alex Butler is all for getting off the company treadmill.

I’m not a slave to the company rhythm.  I’m proud to say it.  Disruption has been part of my life since I was little.  But like many others, I held out in my corporate job for far longer than I should have done, avoiding doing what I really wanted to do.

Having done so, I’m a little ashamed to say that initially I felt quite smug.  I looked back over my shoulder at past colleagues and wondered why they continued to put up with the grind.  Why have so many of us hung on to the perceived safety of what we do daily despite our misgivings?

We’ve learnt a lot from you during our KindredHQ conversations, and we reckon it’s due to one or more of these reasons:

  • You can lose your own sense of identity in an environment where the employer ‘brand’ is all.
  • Let’s face it.  It’s easy to coast when you have a regular salary coming in.
  • Like moving bank accounts, it all appears more complicated than it actually is.

Sometimes, you don’t have any choice.  Companies downsize, and you might find that your opportunity has arrived; even if you aren’t ready for it.  So here’s the KindredHQ survival toolkit for you to pack away in your rucksack of life, ready for when the time comes to take the first step.

1) Do what you love.

Honestly.  It’s possible to make a living doing what you love.

This is surprisingly difficult for us to get our heads around.  Yet so many of us don’t or won’t associate the fun stuff with work.

Maybe you haven’t found your fun niche.  A book such as Screw Work, Let’s Play: How to Do What You Love and Get Paid for it is a good place to start.  It’s a great book that will inspire you to think differently about your passions in life.

3) Shore up your finances

If you fit the older demographic (like us!) then you might have got used to a lifestyle based on the good years, and have a mortgage, kids, with an expensive hobby to finance.

Think about how you could thin out your expenditure, for the longer term good.  You’ll be amazed how much you can save by stripping out all those extraneous monthly direct debits for services you no longer use.  Even the most successful independent workers need a fighting fund for the leaner times.  John Grant calls this his ‘break a leg’ fund in his interview with KindredHQ.

4) Plan ahead. 

You may well feel completely overwhelmed when you make your decision.  We certainly know how that feels.  It’s easy to coast for months as you do practical tasks like setting up an email account and going to meetings.  But actually moving the dream plan forward is much more difficult.

So put an action plan in place. Put down dates by which you will get certain things done. Be specific and cover all bases. And get started early or life will throw extra challenges at you.

All of that said.  Don’t stress if your dream plan evolves into something different.  That’s all part of the fun.  I sometimes describe it as percolating an idea: allowing it to breathe and take on other dimensions over time.  Making for a much more intense and tasty end result.

5) Get family and friends onside

You are thinking about stepping out into the relative unknown.  That’s going to entail significant financial and emotional challenges.   You definitely need the unconditional support and love of your significant other, but you should also think about who your free-spirit buddies are going to be.  This is your army of supporters who will give you advice and guidance when you need it and a kick up the bottom when that’s what’s required too.

At KindredHQ we run twice weekly co-working events in London too, where you can meet and work with other free spirits for the afternoon.  These are a very good way to ask for help in a supportive environment of people who have been there before.  If you are passing by, why not join us? We also have cake and tea, because everything in life is easier with cake and tea.

6) Do it your way

This is the biggie.  Everyone.  And I mean everyone will be giving you advice.  Some of it will be very helpful, but it can be a little like starting a family.  Just because your friend started their business in this way, it doesn’t mean that’s the right decision for you to take too.

I’m afraid that when all’s said and done, it has to be your call.  After all, this is your dream, isn’t it?  Don’t compromise on that.  There will be plenty of times when you might need to compromise later on.

Today is the day to go for it.  We recommend a nice little notebook and a pen to start writing down your ideas and plans over the next week.  Then just go for it, and enjoy it!

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

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