Should you switch to a portfolio career?

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Are portfolio careers the way forward for working parents?

Tired of working 9-5? Failing at everything (read kids, work, social life, partner, general balance)? Finding even a bullet journal won’t help? The answer could lie in changing the way you work – and having what’s known as a portfolio career.

This means having a few different income streams – you may teach one day a week, copy write for another and sell your own products online at the same time. It could be any mix of jobs, but it’s having a mix that makes your life flexible.

Once I’d had kids I was astounded how any parent managed to hold down a job with only four or five weeks holiday a year, while the kids have around 13. And how does the world work when parents have to work 9-5 (and get there and back) and kids are in school 8-3?

Since having children I’ve worked full time, four, three and two days a week. I’ve worked in offices, contracted for projects and freelanced at home. But none of it felt right – either too much, not enough or just not reliable.

Over the years I’ve been fascinated by people who manage to make a living on their own terms. Not just the Spanx-style successes but the mums and dads who earn decent money but have the flexibility to take time off and spend it with their children. To pick them up from school but also to have an interesting career. Is it possible? Here’s what to ask yourself.

  1. Are you organised?
    You think the kids/work thing is tricky, a porfolio career involves keeping on top of your different income streams and your tax and expenses (but you can pay someone to help you with that).
  2. Do you love the unexpected?
    Do you thrive on uncertainty? Do you enjoy the challenge of taking on different projects and roles? If you get stressed in new situations or like the security of a regular wage, you may be safer in a PAYE 9-5.
  3. Do you have enough strings to your bow?
    Can you actually make money outside a 9-5 job? Do you have skills that are in demand? Will there be enough work and will you find it interesting enough?
  4. Does it work for your family?
    How much do you need to earn every month? Do you need a regular income to pay your bills. Will it put too much pressure on your partner if your monthly income is unreliable? Or does it mean you no longer need childcare and can work flexibly leading to a more harmonious home life?

Actually finding the jobs are another matter – but it’s important to know whether you have the right personality (and a portfolio career matches your lifestyle) before you jack in the 9-5.

What do you think? Have you done it? Where did you start?

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