The idea of combining multiple roles into a “portfolio” career is appealing to many people, especially those who need flexibility. A more familiar but different term is “freelancer”, meaning a person is an independent contractor who is paid on a per-work or task basis, usually on a short-term basis. Freelancers’ tasks can vary depending on their skills.
A portfolio career is choosing several part-time jobs simultaneously instead of one full-time job. In reality, creating a sustainable portfolio is a challenge. When a person uses their skills that are applicable to different situations and careers, and when they step outside their comfort zone, they will be able to build a career that will inspire and motivate them for years to come.
For many years, there was a common belief that portfolio careers were reserved only for the most successful executives and academics. It used to be seen only as people nearing the end of successful careers – board members advising senior executives or making high-level investment decisions.
This is no longer the case. Portfolio careers are now possible for anyone with the self-motivation and ability to deliver a product or service that companies need.
Since the time of the person who has a portfolio career is not “promised” to a particular company, it gives a certain amount of flexibility. Portfolio career offers the freedom to choose what to work on, with whom, when and where to work and how much to charge for the work done. This allows professionals who have chosen a portfolio career to travel, study or spend time with their family on a schedule of their own making.
The lack of predictability and risks to income are the main disadvantages if one relies on a portfolio career. It is difficult to plan a budget when it is not clear where the next paid project will come from.
Ways to start a portfolio career
What one may choose to do before starting a portfolio career depends on the skills one has. The more specific and sought after they are, the more likely it is to launch a successful portfolio career. It is important that the skills that a person has are needed by someone else at this moment, and in order to meet them, it is necessary to create a good network of contacts.
In his book “10% Entrepreneur”, Patrick McGuinness describes the ways in which a person can create his own startup without leaving his main job. In addition to having the important skills, the author claims that 10% of a person’s time or money can be invested in a portfolio career. The approach is suitable even for entrepreneurs who would spend part of their time developing another, new project.