How To Create A Portable Career

Portable careers #switchersPhoto by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

A portable career is one that can be done from anywhere – your living room, your corner coffee shop, or even your favorite hammock in the Caribbean islands.

The term is often associated with military spouses who find themselves moving frequently while attempting to build a meaningful professional life. But a portable career is an option that is open to essentially anyone with a marketable idea and a WiFi connection. If this sounds like an enticing opportunity, here’s how to get started:

Understand the culture. Working independently can be extremely freeing. This is a huge part of the appeal, but it also means that you’ll need to be ridiculously organized, disciplined and motivated. If these words do not exactly define you, there may be ways to bridge the gaps through technology or work partnerships. However, building a customer base involves building trust, which means you need to be reliable.

Know your options. While many portable careers are held by individuals who work as contractors or independents, there are many organizations that welcome remote workers. In fact, some companies – such as WordPress (Automattic) and FlexJobs – do not have offices and instead operate with 100% virtual work forces. If you want the geographic freedom, but with some structure and foundation, this may be analternativeto explore.

Assess your strengths.There are a variety of careers today that can be portable, at least in part, so a helpful initial step is to evaluate your skills, interests and the market to find the intersection (what I call your “Plan A”). You need to be competent so people want to purchase your services, and there needs to be a market for what you’re selling. The more focused you can be in definingyour Plan A, the easier it will be to develop your portable career.

Generate options. There are certain trades that lend themselves to portable careers, with roles in the field of technology being the obvious ones such as SEO consultant, web designer or programmer. But even if your talent lies in healthcare, teaching, plumbing or closet organizing, you can still create a portable career. For some fields, you may need to plant yourself in a location for 6 – 12 months versus continuously moving, but that may fit perfectly with what you’re looking for.

Assess feasibility. Once you know your “Plan A”, it’s important to look at the practical matters such as start-up and maintenance costs, or even how you’ll get your snail mail. It may be a dream to be a writer working from Paris, or to set up shop as a life coach living in Costa Rica, but there may be work visas to obtain or certain taxes that need to be paid. Plus, getting a bank account can be challenging as a non-resident and may be required for the basic necessities if you plan to stay in a foreign country for any length of time.

Fill in the gaps. Technology paved the way for many portable careers and is the heart to making several of them work, even if it’s just managing a website to market your business or using an online invoicing system. While some roles require much greater tech aptitude than others, it will be helpful to close any critical gaps before embarking on a full-time portable career. There are many free online training resources such as MOOCs and YouTube videos, plus in-depth virtual instructional and certification programs to explore.

Set your goals. Before you quit your day job or stop your job search, if you plan to create a portable career on your own, start with building a plan for success. This should include monthly sales goals, a detailed strategy for marketing including clearly identifying your target customers, an overview of your services, a pricing model, anticipated expenses, and how you’ll deal with competition, legal challenges and accounting matters.

Dive in. There is a key point at which a business idea becomes a reality and that is usually with the first paying client. You may decide that starting your portable career as a side hustle is a wise choice. This trial run will allow you to test your business idea, identify any costs or skills gaps you’ve missed, and begin to build some client testimonials for marketing.

In today’s market, the sky really is the limit. We no longer need to wait to be chosen to start on the path to our dream. All it takes is a little creativity and planning, and the courage to begin.

Happy hunting!

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