You’ve got the education and the qualifications. You’ve also armed yourself with all the pre-requisite technical skills. And now, you’re ready to go your own way.
What are your options? What suits you?
It’s easy to do what everyone else is doing. It’s also easy to go where everyone else is going but what we don’t remember is that there are no pre-determined paths. We all have to make your paths meaningful. And for that, you have to forge your own path in life.
Many techies among us choose to follow the path which is made by their predecessors. It’s true that the majority of techies in Pakistan do work as an employee to meet their livings. However, the truth is that this shouldn’t be your only option.
Let’s discuss all the ways that you can become profitable by putting your technical skills to good use.
Way 1 : The Path of the Employee
They say that If you don’t know where you are going, then you might not get there. Well, professionally, if you don’t do anything different, you will end up as an employee. Because you didn’t know about other ways, you are on this route because this is the easiest route to take.
You will find stability here, which means you can continue earning and not have to worry about risking it all. Even if you lose one employer, you can find another. Its a life where you know that you will be receiving a pay check at the end of each month (barring some extraordinary circumstances), as long as you have a job of course.
You will have limited scope of responsibility and your path is pretty clear. The process of looking for a job, applying there and getting a job is well-defined. Here you will have paid vacation and medical insurance.
But there are some drawbacks if you live as an employee.
The price to pay here is your freedom which you won’t find here. For instance, you will need to inform your employer before vacation(s). You need to following a strict schedule in terms of office timings and hours you spent in office.
Most companies will ask you to spend at least 40 hours in a week for job. There is no upper limit to the hours spent, and I even knew a guy who once spent 111 hours in a week in office for a project deadline, including 4 straight nights and days. The office was kind enough to provide him a mattress and a quilt.
Here you will be bound to do the work which your employer will ask you to do and you might not always get the work which you enjoy.
Follow this path and there will a come a time in your life that you won’t be able to advance any further unless you switch your employer or career paths.
Way 2 : The Path of Consultancy or Freelancing
A consultant doesn’t work for a particular employer, but may work for one or more clients. They do the side job for their client(s), who either pay on hourly basis or a fixed price for that work.
An independent consultant may run their own company, contracting out work to others as they see fit.
Before diving into the river of consultancy, many think that this means that they will get to be their own boss. They will work on the task which they enjoy. They won’t be requesting boss for pay raise or leaves.
But is that really the case? Did they get rid of a boss above their heads?
They soon realize that they now have not just one boss, but multiple bosses. Yes, your clients are your bosses.
But its not all bad. You get the freedom of deciding the number of hours you will put in for a client. You will have a freedom of choosing the work of your choice when you are freelancing.
I know a consultant who once decided to travel the places he always dreamt of going to when he was working as a lowly employee. Problem was, he could only make time for a visit by way of a resignation or a sabbatical – which normally isn’t approved.
By becoming an independent consultant, he had enough savings and freedom of time. He finished the ongoing jobs, didn’t commit for further work for a year, and then traveled to visit the places he liked.
Here the earning potential isn’t limited to the profit which a company gets. Instead, one can make a much higher hourly wage by doing more work.
If you follow this path, do keep in mind the taxes, sales, health care and things associated with running a business, because really, you are running one as a freelancer.
Way 3 : The Path of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship -The buzz word of this decade. Entrepreneurship – one of the most difficult, most undefined and most rewarding way to go. Entrepreneurs are the professional gamblers of our industry if you think about it. There isn’t much stability here or either very little, but if you hit the jackpot, you hit it big. Massively big.
Entrepreneurs either build a product, sell it or provide a service either directly or indirectly through partners.
They come up with the idea, generate the funding for it and implement it for the people. It’s a gamble in a sense that if that idea fails, people reject it. Or more likely, someone else comes up with an improved product with the same idea but a more effective approach.
Most entrepreneurs start with a small scale startup and look for large funding from outside investors or from venture capitalists.
As an entrepreneur, you have several advantages. Like complete and total freedom and unlimited earning potential. No one is your boss, except yourself. You have total independence to do whatever you like and you know that you are responsible for your future. There are many examples of people who made millions out of it.
But here’s the whole deal with entrepreneurship. It’s also the most difficult route. There is no guarantee of any predefined income. It’s a track to wilderness. One day your customers are buying your product or using your services, putting you on the top of the world. And the next day, they stop using that, and you wonder where to go for here now.
There are also examples of those who made millions and later lost that fame, shifted to a rental place, and were hardly left with any money to meet their expenses.
If you choose this path, get yourself equipped with the knowledge of sales, marketing and improve people management skills – it’s a must here.
Now Its Time to Decide: Where to Go? Which Route to Take?
There is no formula to figure out the route. Just listen to your inner feelings. Take steps to fulfill your dreams.
Though it make sense to be an employee in the early years of your career, this is also the time for you to gain enough knowledge, understand the risks and start building skills. But don’t ever restrict yourself to a specific path.
Remember that you can always switch paths later. There is no harm in taking a calculated risk.
Mark Zuckerberg once said that “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
No matter how old are you. How long have you been on a path, Remember that you are never too late.
The truth is that we are reluctant to leave our comfort zone. Trust yourself, practice, learn, forget about failing or success.
Feeling the fear and doing it anyways is the right way and the only way to get rid of the fear.
The road is in front of you, with directions and sign boards placed at every corner that mention everything you need to know. You are driving the car.
Do you have the guts to push the speed paddle on a bumpy road and turn the steering wheel towards the right direction?
Would you like to be an employee? A freelancer ? A consultant or an Entrepreneur?
The world, as they say, is your oyster!