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January 14, 2012
Having become increasingly disgruntled over the last few years with the industry I actively chose to become a part of it’s time to start looking at alternative income streams.
I’m not really in a position to complain too much, I earn a relatively comfortable amount doing a job that imposes no serious health risks, nothing strenuous and is only as stressful as I let it be – which is pretty damn stressful but that’s my problem, not that of the industry. The issue is that as time goes on I’m working longer and longer hours for the same amount of money. I’m spending more and more time and cash ensuring I have the skills and the tools to keep my business in the position it’s in while I’m finding we are being squeezed more and more both creatively and financially.The bulk of the issues are down to how I run my business, mostly with managing expectations and having spent too many years accepting work of a type I should have passed on. While this is something I am addressing I also need to consider the long term implications of an income which is directly tied to the number of hours I can put in.
So, here I am with a big bucket of useful skills – pre-apocalypse anyway, I’ll be useless once the zombies take over – most of which I rarely use to their maximum effect, I have good a work ethic (possibly more ‘workaholic’) and the motivation to get stuff done. I’ve considered a complete career change but the responsibilities of mortgage and small child make this a very difficult choice. I’ve considered giving up on the self-employment lark and getting a proper job with security – as much security as this industry allows anyway – but again I can’t see a huge long term benefit. I have friends who have done as such and are generally no happier, with little more free time for family or personal interests (my real goal) and I just don’t have the lack of ethics or the desire to claw my way to the top and make the big money.
In this modern world of free and easy communication and commerce there are other options. An income methodology which is becoming increasingly alluring is that of the micro-business. Rather than concentrating on one big core business with big clients and big budgets the idea is to split your time amongst many smaller ideas, each of which can bring in a small amount of income so removing the reliance on any one client or business. This (in theory) allows for flexibility and fast evolution, one idea not doing so well? Kill it. Another idea doing better than expected? Feed it.
All fairly obvious for a large corporation but not something I would have considered for a small business or individual until fairly recently. About two years ago friends started telling me it’s what I should be doing. I did agree right away with the idea but have done nothing about it, mostly through fear of failure and because of workload but it’s time to give it a go. I have no expectations of making a massive change in the short term, and long term I fully expect to still be running my business – albeit in a more efficient and effective manner. I’m aiming for a better balance, if I can be in a position where I have income not linked to my primary business I will be more able to pick and choose the more creative or financially beneficial projects. I might also get the occasional guilt free holiday.
I’m not going to set any targets initially, it’s going to be an experimental and fairly organic process, I also don’t plan on buying any of the shonky looking books on the topic because there’s the worrying smell of snake oil self help around most of them. I will however be talking to friends and acquaintances who have already succeeded in getting off the ground. Wish me luck and I’ll try and keep you updated, also let me know if you have any experiences, good or bad with making a living like this.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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