Do you want to break free from the old economy?

Do you want to break free from the old economy?

That sounds like a loaded question. It’s “old” and you need to “break free” so of course you want to.

But I mean it sincerely.

The old economy is a stable job with benefits that you can stick with for as long as possible, even for the rest of your career. Is that what you want?

If that’s what you want and if you can make it work, then great. It makes for a nice life. You can have a steady income to plan your life and retirement with. You can focus on doing your job and not get distracted by other opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Personally, the new economy resonates more with me.

The new economy has been called the gig economy or the freelance economy. Forbes estimates that by 2020 50% of the workforce will work as freelancers at least part time.

You can participate in this economy by being a true freelancer. You can provide your services to more than one client at the same time.

Or you could look at full-time jobs like short-term freelance projects. You're hired full time to solve special problems with your special skills. But you never quite get settled. Once you’ve accomplished what you were hired to do, you move on to the next opportunity.

I like the challenge and variety of serving multiple clients at the same time. I am hired to focus on what I am best at and what I enjoy the most. If I really hustle and provide value, I can make more money than a “market salary" for my skills and experience. I also like the diversification provided by multiple streams of income.

In fact, you can make many times a “market salary” if you can figure out how to leverage your time by automating tasks and delegating to lower-cost staff.

So back to my question: do you want to break free? If so, here’s how:

  • Figure out the intersection between what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what someone is willing to pay you to do. It helps to have an easily definable skill like writing, graphic design, programming, accounting, etc.
  • Look for opportunities to serve using that skill in your spare time. Learn from that experience and take on more projects as your time allows.
  • If you have more opportunities than you can handle in your spare time, look at what it would take to freelance full time. If you’re able to cover your living expenses with part-time work (which is certainly feasible), taking freelancing full time is a no-brainer!
  • See if your full-time employer wants to become one of your clients. If you’re valuable, they won’t want to lose you. They may even appreciate the opportunity to pay you less for specifically what you do best. Here’s a hint: they should be willing to pay you much more than a percentage of your full-time salary equivalent to a percentage of your time.

This is how I got started.

Within two years I had worked myself out of one full-time CFO job and almost worked myself out of another (i.e. I accomplished what I was hired to do, and it didn’t make sense for the companies to maintain a full-time CFO). I was trying to figure out what to do when a friend approached me about helping him part time with his business in a CFO-type role.

A light bulb went off. Why couldn’t I spend half of my time on each company, which was plenty of time to meet each company’s needs? It was great! I was again fully engaged in CFO-level work. I got an immediate raise because each company was willing to pay more than half salary for half time. I doubled my experience and relationships.

Since then I have served as the CFO of several companies at once. I have broken free the old economy, and I love the challenge, variety, experience, and income!

Question: How have you broken free from the old economy?