In Mobile Creatives – Are You Part of the Rising Class of New Entrepreneurs? I noted that one of the inherent limitations is perpetual income instability. Today I want to discuss ways that you can add stability to the mobile creative lifestyle.
I want to re-emphasis the point that I did not come up with the term Mobile Creatives. The idea was introduced by Charles Hugh Smith at OfTwoMinds. But as a member of this newly minted economic class – and an enthusiastic participant in the work-/life-style – I decided to dedicate a series of articles to the topic. I personally believe that mobile creatives maybe the socio-economic shift that finally enables the average citizen to reclaim the middle-/upper-middle class lifestyle that was once provided by factory jobs and service sector employment.
The mobile creative lifestyle relies heavily on self-employment; the primary reason why most people avoid self-employment in the first place is out of fear that it is less stable than holding a full-time salaried job. However, now that full-time salaried jobs are both harder to get and more difficult to keep, self-employment isn’t as risky as it once was. And if you can blend self-employment with some limited forms of traditional jobs, the mix can end up being more secure than relying entirely on a full-time job.
Being a mobile creative is all about building an informal work style, and that opens up previously unknown opportunities and can provide greater income security (as opposed to job security) than full-time positions currently do.
But in order for that to happen, you do have to build some stability into those income sources. While no source of income is ever completely secure, there are ways to increase stability nonetheless.
Never have all of your eggs in one income basket
These days, we really need to think of earning a living by using the same portfolio method that is commonly used in regard to investing money. The idea is that you never rely entirely on one source of income for your survival.
Whether you have a full-time job, a full-time business, or some combination of both, the key is always to maintain two or more income sources. If a job loss is just a pink slip away (usually brought on by a bad quarter or two), and having your own business is inherently risky, you can increase your income security substantially with two or more income sources.
And even if you have two income sources working successfully, you should always consider developing a third, and even a fourth. The more the better – at least up to a certain point.
Don’t worry about not having the time to juggle it all – you’ll figure that out as you go along. You can choose to work on whichever income source is most productive for you. And in the way that life works, you’ll typically find that one or two income sources aren’t working particularly well at any given time, so you‘ll be free to concentrate on the ones that are.
Self-employment is your income foundation
As a mobile creative, self-employment is typically the foundation of your work style. Where one time this meant investing large amounts of capital into physical operations, today it’s mostly talent driven. That is, your business is based on your particular talents, and not on heavy investment in assets.
In fact, buying a business may be the most risky income venture of all. This is true not only because it requires a substantial amount of capital, but also because traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses are heavily taxed and regulated. And worse, someone with deeper pockets can always come along and put you out of business, a la Walmart and other big-box retailers.
When you run your business based on your own talents, those risks don’t exist. You don’t have the big capital outlay, and a large competitor isn’t looking squash your business. Instead, you’re applying your specific talents to a particular niche, where you’ll be largely ignored by the competition.
Another plus: with the internet, it’s not only possible to work from home – eliminating any serious business overhead – but you can also work from a laptop virtually anywhere that has an Internet connection. Think of it as earning a living by traveling light.
List and analyze the particular talents that you have, and how you might be able to apply them to some sort of business. Don’t be intimidated by this idea – a business is simply about developing the ability to sell your skills to other people. You can do this either by selling your skills to small businesses, directly to the retail public, or some combination of both.
I’m doing this right now with freelance blog writing, and it was something that came about just because I always “felt that I could write” – I never did it professionally before. You probably have similar talents – maybe even writing – that would fill the same role in your life.
Do some serious soul-searching – take as much time as you need – and figure out what skills and talents you have that you can sell to others for money. You can start it as a side venture, the way I did, and then build up something more substantial.
Always be on the lookout for new income opportunities
No matter how comfortable you get in any business venture, whether it’s a job or your own business, never assume you’ve arrived in the promised land. There is no promised land this side of Heaven anyway, but you can waste a lot of time, energy and emotional stability thinking that you found it.
Instead, convert your “career” – what ever it is – into a journey, rather than a destination (I know, real original, right?). That means that you should always be on the lookout for new income opportunities.
If you have your own business, that means developing and maintaining a strategy to generate new clients and customers. If you’re doing contract work, it means continually working to line up your next gig – or even multiple gigs you can keep at the same time. It might also involve finding a part-time job or contract situation that could supplement your income, no matter what your primary source is. I have a background in accounting, so I use that skill on a contract basis to provide an additional income source.
The Internet, as well as all the dislocations caused by actual layoffs, are creating opportunity all over the place. While it may be very difficult to find a steady job, it’s probably easier than it’s ever been to find income opportunities.
That’s exactly what you should be looking for from now on. And trust me – as someone who’s doing it – it gets easier the longer you do it.
Network and partner with others
One of the casualties of the corporate life has been that it has generally caused us to reduce social contacts. In a way this makes sense; as the corporation becomes more important in your life and in society, there’s less time or need in your life for family, friends, community, and even worship. Life is organized around a well-ordered system, with the company at the center. I’ll leave it to you to determine if this is been a real trend in the decades since World War II, but I personally see it all over the place.
Keeping that in mind, a mobile creative lifestyle actively seeks to reverse the trend. You need to be more involved with everyone and everything around you.
Opportunity doesn’t always present itself in the classified ads or on the job boards, especially not today. Most times, it comes about by word-of-mouth, by random tips, and by situations that you notice on the path of life. You can accelerate this process by increasing your social involvement.
Networking is no longer something that you do primarily to find a job. You should band together with other people who are in related fields and businesses, and actively discuss and pursue strategies to find new income opportunities.
Where appropriate, you should also be looking to partner with others. None of us are in a position to fully capitalize on every new opportunity that we see. But we may be able to participate in some way by partnering with others. For example, if you have strong IT skills, you may be able to take advantage of a significant income opportunity by partnering with someone with strong marketing skills.
Keep your radar up for just such situations, and be prepared to do a deep investigation anytime something comes across your path that looks viable.
Steadily increase your skills set
One of the reasons why it’s becoming more difficult for ordinary people to maintain the middle-class lifestyle is that the world is changing faster than we’re adapting. New technologies are coming online all the time, and routine jobs are disappearing.
You have to be purposeful about changing that outcome. Look to improve whatever skills that you already have, and add new ones that you think are relevant.
In doing this, resist the trend to go back to school. The education industry has become a major growth industry, because people who lack relevant skills think they need to go back to school to get some sort of certification to prove that they have those skills. In many cases, this will no longer work for the following reasons:
- The cost of formal education beyond the high school level has become prohibitively expensive
- It requires a substantial investment of your time
- It’s very possible that by the time you finish the required coursework, the given skill set will no longer be relevant, or the income opportunity will have disappeared
When it comes to the acquisition of skills, you have to be extremely fluid in today’s economy. That means learning skills informally, such as by taking on new income situations, learning off the web, or working closely with others who already have the skills you want.
Just as you have to be innovative with regard to developing new income sources, you have to do the same when it comes to acquiring new skills. The process has to be fast, cheap, and relevant – anything more is a complete waste of resources.
If this sounds complicated, just keep in mind that every income opportunity you enter will lay the foundation for learning even more skills. In this way, developing new skills and income opportunities work in tandem.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso
In truth, income security is probably no longer possible no matter what the source is. Being a mobile creative is really a process of creating multiple income sources. And ironically, it’s probably as close to income security as any of us can really get in the 21st century.
Being a Mobile Creative and developing multiple income sources based on your talents – good idea or wishful thinking?