You Won’t Get a Job At PG&E (Most Likely)
You know that dad in that one movie, portraying the 60s, the 70s, or the 80s? the dad that gets a job at PG&E right after getting his accounting degree, and gets married, and has a baby, and keeps going to PG&E, and the baby gets married, and the dad is still at his PG&E desk?
Well, that’s not going to be the life for most people. At least for attorneys. The new reality, for many, will be of a solo entrepreneur, a small business owner, a person as a brand.
Pros and Cons
Working for yourself, there’s no paid vacation, but vacation time is unlimited. There’s no retirement benefits, but if you love what you do, why do you need to retire? There’s no relocations bonus, but you can work wherever you want, and not just where your employers signed the lease.
There’s no time to relax, because one must always watch market trends, prospect for new clients, befriend the competition, see and be seen. But in exchange, there’s the excitement, there’s the sense that one is doing “life’s work,” there’s the fulfillment from doing what you want to do, how you want to do it, for whom you want to do it.
With money – in the beginning you are almost guaranteed to make a lot less than with a job. But with a job, you are guaranteed salary and bonuses. But you are also guaranteed to never make more than what your employer decides your salary plus bonuses. Working for yourself, on the upper limit of your income, there are no guarantees. It’s all up to you.
Impact on Happiness
With self-employment, the impact on happiness, at least potentially, is huge, for one reason: working for yourself, you are in charge of your time. And your time is your single most important asset, one that has the highest potential to actually make you happy.
The reasons why being in charge of your time has the highest probability of making you happy:
- Gives you a higher chance of finding what you LOVE to do
- Gives you a higher chance of actually doing what you LOVE
- Gives you flexibility to not spend all of your time working, even on things you love
Basically, as a self-employed person, you do what you want. Yes, there are things you need to do – like make money to pay your bills and support your family. But, there are SO MANY WAYS to make money, and, being self-employed, you are not tied to any of them.
How Do You Make This Happen?
Look for Opportunities.
Talk to strangers, whenever you can. Ask what they do. Ask them about their problems, their proposed solutions. The key to a successful business, a real, long-term one, is finding an answer to an actually existing problem (not creating problems which you then proceed to solve).
Approach Life Critically.
Plan. Do. Evaluate. Come up with new plan. Do. Evaluate. Come up with new plan to address what you learned from evaluating. It’s an endless cycle, but with every loop around the mountain, your perspective changes, and you learn.
Never Go On Autopilot.
Look at life as a whole – which parts of your life do you love? Which you don’t? If you are getting paid for doing something you don’t love – can you get that income for doing something else, ideally something you love more?
Learn from doing the things you love. What else that’s similar could you do? What if you’d love those things even more?
Have a Life Plan, Not Just Business Plan.
The other day I thought, to have more money, I need to have more estate planning clients.
But I also thought, I’m running more than I’ve ever ran in my life, and I’m a decent cyclist. Why not try to train for a triathlon? Well, for that, I need to swim.
So, instead of working through lunch, I went to my local community pool to do laps. And in my own lane, met a prospective estate planning client.
An Example: Modlin Legal Office Center.
I launched a new business a few days ago. At the Modlin Legal Office Center, for a reasonable monthly fee, attorneys have 24/7 access to professional private offices, as well as a shared work space. This way, they can schedule confidential client meetings, as well as have access to a community of attorneys.
I came up with this idea from the realization that I have an asset – a wonderful office suite that is far too large for me alone. It’s an asset I want to share, and ideally make money from, because everyone needs money.
A number of people have offered me a monthly fee in exchange for a full time access to a private office in my suite. That would be the easy, conventional solution. However, in the past weeks, a number of self-employed attorneys have reached out to me, complaining that all the companies offering virtual offices do not give them after-hours access, when the clients really just want to meet after hours.
Therefore, having been a virtual office customer in the past, and having heard the current complaints of their current clients, I saw a problem – lack of access to professional private offices, not during business hours. And I thought, I have a solution, because I have the offices, and they don’t have to close at 5. And because I like communities, and helping as many people as I can, and generating and receiving referrals from attorneys. Thus, the Modlin Legal Office Center was born.
So. If you are finding yourself at a crossroads, remember to just move forward, and keep your eyes and ears open. Launch a freelance practice. Talk to a counselor about a career change, or to find out some of your strengths. Contact me for help or more ideas.