Exploring New Directions? Here Are Some Ideas to Help You Gain Clarity

What are some of your options if you find yourself out of work or simply want to take a new direction?

Go Back to School

  • Training takes time and money but you might be able to get a grant to make things easier.
  • Supporting yourself during the time you are in school can be challenging.

Get Certified

• You might look into certifications. Getting certified in something that is popular can be a quick way to get into a different career.

Volunteer or Intern

  • One way to break into a new career or further your career in a different direction/role is to volunteer. Volunteer for a gig job (project-based). Intern for a new career direction. That way you can try something out without being committed to a direction or business.
  • Of course, you have to have some way to support yourself while volunteering.

Open up a Business

  • It can take a while to make a business pay. In the meantime, you should have a way to support yourself.
  • Most people starting out in business start out as a sole proprietor (home business).
  • I really like the idea of a home business, however, you will be under different tax laws: self-employment tax is 15% on top of everything you make over $400. Since the tax comes from the sole proprietor Schedule C, you don’t get the standard deduction everyone else gets who is employed. That really bites when you are starting out. However, that shouldn’t stop you if you want to pursue this route.
  • You have to consider if you can handle the responsibilities, tax implications, and lifestyle of a home-based business. (see below).

Become a Consultant

  • INMHO The best business to have hands-down is a consultancy. You give advice. You do not produce or sell a product. You arrange your time how you want it. No one is your boss and you are not responsible for anyone else. If the client does what you say, that is great, but if they don’t take your advice, you are paid anyway.
  • To determine what you can do as a consultant, think of what kind of advice you already give to people. What do they come to you for? Or, you can do a survey of your friends, and ask them what they think you are good at.

Start a Service Business

  • The next best business to have is a service. You provide a service that others want, either because they can’t, or they don’t want to.
  • This last is important because this can determine the rate you ask. For instance, if the service you provide is something they can do but don’t want to, they won’t be willing to pay you much. On the other hand, if they can’t do it then you can generally charge more.
  • However, if they can easily find someone to do it, they won’t pay much either. This “cheapening” of services is what happened in graphic design. There are so many people in the field charging so little that it is dead at the lower end. And because most clients don’t know good design from bad, a lot of people who are not professional designers (formally educated) are able to sell their services for cheap, undercutting others who are better trained. This creates a very difficult situation for the professional designer or design student just starting out in their own business.

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