Ditch The Office and Make Work Work For You
The 9 to 5 isn't for you. Cubicles are too confining when all you want to do is run free. Maybe you've got a baby or a puppy at home, or maybe you just hate the morning commute. What if you could work from home and take calls from your hot tub?
While we can't guarantee that a hot tub is in your future, we can definitively say there's another way. If you're ready to make the move to self-employment, here are a few options worth exploring:
Join The Gig Economy
The famed Gig Economy is a big portion of the modern economy, and it's still growing. Encompassing all kinds of trendy startups (Uber, Airbnb, Task Rabbit, Upwork; the list goes on and on), the Gig Economy provides the freedom that many people desire or require in their lives. You can take a job when you need it, and be left alone when you don't. By working as much or as little as you want, you can control your income as much as your schedule.
The downside is that the work generally isn't thrilling (Uber means you've got to love driving and love meeting strangers - and it doesn't hurt if you can put up with drunk people), and there's basically no room for promotion. Fleshing out your freelance portfolio on a site like Upwork might get you more graphic design gigs, but ultimately that's all it will do. You could raise your hourly or project rate, but unless someone's willing to pay it, that won't help much. The easier and more publicized these services become, the more competition you'll face, making landing a gig even harder.
Then there are the regulatory issues. Uber and Airbnb, the two most visible Gig Economy companies, have both faced governmental issues, and while many people have made healthy and happy lives working with them, it could all go away in a flash. Uber puts taxi drivers out of business and has a lax approach to background checks, while Airbnb convinces people to rent out their home instead of selling it, thus hurting local markets. Uber was banned in Austin for a while, and Airbnb is currently outlawed in NY, San Francisco, and several other major cities around the world.
If your professional experience includes a specialization that could be of use to other companies, then becoming a consultant is a great option. Whether it's marketing consultation, executive coaching, or organization restructuring, it can be a nice change of pace to come into a company as a fee-based independent contractor instead of an employee in need of a permanent salary and benefits.
The downside is that you haven't really escaped the rigid business environment. In some ways, consulting might put you even more in the thick of boring corporate negotiations than you were previously. Starting out as a consultant is also a pretty difficult task. More than other professions, consulting requires that you know people, and when you're just starting out you probably won't know anyone. In that sense there's a hefty learning curve.
If teaching's always spoken to you, becoming a tutor is a logical possibility. Whether you tutor a specific academic subject, a musical instrument, or a foreign language, tutoring is a way to earn some extra money while helping to make a difference in someone's life.
The problem here may be obvious: it's not a particularly lucrative path on its own. Even if you're lucky enough to get students to pay a high hourly rate, you're probably just seeing them once a week or even monthly, and it'll take quite a few students for those checks to add up to rent.
Working freelance is malleable enough that you can mold it into anything you want, provided you have the necessary skills. There are countless opportunities for freelance writers, graphic designers, and photo and video professionals, but the hard part is finding a good client and standing out from the inevitable crowd.
To do so, you'll need a great portfolio and be flexible. Many freelance websites market themselves based on their absurdly fast response times - which means you have to be absurdly fast. As with some of the above options, we're talking about a lot of smaller jobs hopefully adding up to a livable income, but it's most likely slow going at the start.
If you're great at buying low and selling high, maybe eCommerce is in the cards for you. This could consist of sifting through junk at a pawn shop, finding that one brilliant item and then selling it for a huge profit on eBay, or it could be an even more niche product or service that you have the knowledge to really capitalize on.
Many people have made good money with their own eCommerce operations (even Amazon started small!), but there are plenty of obstacles along the way. How will you get noticed in the crowded online marketplace? How will you store and ship your products? How much can you handle yourself, and how do you eventually limit growth so you don't burn out fast?
Real Estate Agent
Our last suggestion is to dive into the wide world of real estate. As a real estate agent, your days are always busy and always different. You can name your own schedule, take off time for the kids' sports events, and make as much money as you want. Real estate's a massive and diverse industry, and no matter where you move there's always a need for new agents. When you're helping people with what's likely the biggest financial decision of their lives, they tend to treat you and the process with respect.
The downside is that your income is entirely dependent on sealing the deal, and if you go months without buying or selling a home then you also go months without a paycheck. Just like the other career options on this list, you'll undoubtedly start small, but referrals in real estate are a huge source of business, and as time goes on your schedule will fill up - as will your bank account.
If you're convinced that real estate's the place for you, we've got good news: we can teach you what you need to know! Check out our homepage to get started.