Welcome to Planet Earth, home to almost 8 billion people. We are a resource-starved, mismanaged race that doesn’t have its priorities in order. But we are approaching a threshold in terms of basic demand and supply of work, and with the rapid advancement of technology, it’s time to start thinking along the lines of dual or multiple careers instead of relying on a single source of income.
Jobs will eventually become more competitive and more demanding, and with a rise in job demands, people need to have the comfort and ease of fallbacks as well. Multiple streams of income expand your horizons, but if handled carelessly, it will overstretch you and leave all your employers hanging.
This is something I have been practicing for a few years and have now moved from making ends meet to putting money in the bank.
Check out these pro tips to get you working well from home. Bear in mind these are from personal experience and will also touch upon time and monetary investments you should look to make while you are stabilizing your multi-stream career.
1. Do your research.
First things first – figure out which revenue streams you can build. You need to assess your external career prospects, and the best way to do that is to review what options exist within your frame of work.
Lead with your strengths. Let’s say you’re a business graduate: You have a native understanding of the concepts of marketing, finance, HR, etc. Depending on which field you pursue, you have massive communities available to give you an idea of the kind of commercial opportunities that exist, both full time and part time. (The reason I mention both full time and part time is because we are yet to establish the notion of primary and secondary careers – more on that below.)
Communities like LinkedIn exist to help you get a feel of what formal opportunities exist. You also have localized HR portals that will give you an understanding of what recruitment firms are looking for in the market. LinkedIn has now expanded into the temporary work space. But with respect to secondary jobs and freelancing, there are portals like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer that will show you contractual, temporary and/or secondary options.
2. Connect and correct.
Another important life lesson here is that, regardless of what people are looking for, there is always an option to give them what they might not be looking for but might actually need. I like to call this bit of business fishing – unsolicited storytelling. Imagine that you are a writer and want work: It’s a good idea to follow other writers, see their body of work, and try to reach out to their clients. Organizations are always on the lookout for a fresh perspective – if you have what they want or what they might need, you may just land a gig. The way you do this is by being brutally honest and telling them, “This is me, and this is what I can bring to the table.” It pays to have a body of work of your own before you try this approach, but honestly, this is a game of trial and error. Connect and correct is the way to move toward actual projects.
3. Build enough boxes.
While it’s good to focus on your core strengths, it’s always a good idea to expand your vision past your current business pursuits in hopes of identifying greener pastures. The name of the game is diversification.
For example, while you might be a business graduate, driving for Uber or Careem isn’t something you should shy away from. The idea is to experiment with multiple revenue streams and find a winning formula. Taking a short course online from experts is also a great idea to get some perspective.
The entire concept of setting up revenue streams can be quickly visualized in boxes. Each box is a source of income – not a task. For example, say you’ve just picked up a client. That client represents a task or a series of tasks – this is your box. You need to keep that box safe, make sure that you unbox it and keep expanding its capacity. The bigger the box, the better.
Now, with respect to primary and secondary careers, I personally like to treat them like boxes as well. The first box you have, your biggest box (mostly in terms of income and general occupation of time), is your primary career. This might be a stable career or a long-term gig – that is for you to decide and keep evaluating. The thing with boxes is to never settle.
A human being is a resilient and adaptive creature, one that has to understand its own capacity and to grow it as well. You should know when you have enough boxes – juggling these boxes is an arduous task, and, as an individual, you have to adapt and move away from micromanaging these boxes to maybe outsourcing them or handing them over to individuals you trust. This is the way you expand your boundaries and move toward more structured work practices.
4. Invest in a home office.
Tip No. 4 is something even I am trying to implement right now, because I was under the impression that working out of rented premises, leading some sort of a nomadic lifestyle, was the way of the future. Believe me, I have nothing against people who do this or continue to do this, but as an entrepreneur and an employee, I want to invest in assets that will be available to me on my own terms. It is a good investment to have your own home office. It serves an important purpose, and if you do land a deal, it can always serve as a source of income for you as well.
It is also very important to invest in home-based business assets early on. I am doing this right now. I wanted to do it the right way, and frankly, I have massive horror stories from friends and family across the globe – including trees falling on their roofs, guests trashing their possessions, and theft of personal and/or business property. I don’t want my investments to be mental baggage I keep lugging around.
To put my mind and yours at ease, try to build safety nets as early as possible, and make sure that you future-proof them as well. Go to a good comparison website and look up insurance rates for your home. You shouldn’t be living or working from your home without this knowledge.
5. Be ethical.
I feel there’s a lot more I could write at this stage, and I will be looking to do a Part 2 on this one, but I wanted to end on some solid advice that is not just necessary with respect to working from home but applies to life in general. Too many of us get this wrong, pulling all of us down – in terms of trust and performance and as a species.
Be ethical in your pursuits. If you are working for someone and are on their dime, you need to put in the hours or the effort to make their work possible. Too many times I have been on the receiving end of the business, where the other organization bit off more than they could chew in terms of work and scope creep led to massive delays. In short, be vigilant on what you’re supposed to deliver and the timelines around it. Naturally, this is always a work in progress, but in the pursuit of excellence, be your own critic.