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Should I Be Thinking About A Portfolio Career?

 strategic management, anticipatory thinking, job search, traditional careers, life, blog, management, instead, portfolio, career, jobs, multiples, traditional Note: This content about a portfolio career originally appeared in my April newsletter.  I’m re-posting it to the blog because I got so many interesting emails back. And I’ve since had a number of great conversations within my network about the idea. If you are a newsletter subscriber and didn’t read the last one (shameful!), now you know!

What is a portfolio career?

A portfolio career is made up of multiple jobs instead of just one.  And if you already have two jobs to make ends meet, you are already doing it.  But if you’ve been in a traditional career all your life and would like to have more variety and more flexibility, it’s something you should consider.

Here’s why:

The days of being reliant on one company to keep you secure are dwindling.  Stable is a term we can’t use any more.  So spreading your talents a bit wider sounds like it might be a good idea.  If you are in a traditional job and worry that the rug may be pulled out from under you, here are a few things to ponder:

What business, service or hobby could you begin to develop now for the future?

Do you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body?  Are you hungry for independence?

What tolerance do you have for risk?

My Story:

Back in 2007, during my job search, I decided I would begin to establish some action plans around my idea book (a place where I kept around 36 business/product ideas). During my job search period, I decided to act on three of them and release the rest to the world.

That decision kicked off a five-year period where I have been plotting my take over of the world.  I started with the Quixoting blog and a blog called Spin Strategy which is now Tim’s Strategy. After I found my next job, I kept writing, creating, planning and speaking on these ideas.  About six hours a day while working full-time.

And then when the “pull” got too strong, I quit my VP Marketing job to begin a career that was very unlike my prior 23 years.

That steady progression has my heart and soul now living in three main focus areas (the beginnings of a portfolio career):

Tim’s Strategy – You know about the job search, career and life content (you are here now!) and you should know that I am releasing (soon!) a new piece of software for those in transition and those thinking they will be shortly. Subscribe for email updates.

Fix, Build and Drive – About eight months ago, I started a marketing, branding, social networking and business strategy consulting practice.  I have five awesome clients and love this role I play in the world.  A few of you have referred me into your companies.  Thank you!

brilliant. – And here’s a really new one.  I’ve teamed up with a few friends, Katie and Mike, who are very strong in social media and website traffic and conversion strategies.  We started a small agency called brilliant. We work with clients (four so far!) that are looking to establish a stronger brand and online presence. After working solo most of the time, it’s fun to have coworkers again!

So, the question you are probably asking: “Tim, are you rolling in big green dollar bills?” Is the portfolio career a good idea?


And here’s an important warning: this is not easy.  It is not automatic.  You will be working harder than ever in your career. But if have the DNA or are truly ready for a different mix, it is an incredibly rewarding path.

So what could this look like for you?  And how long would it take to establish an income that rivals your traditional total compensation?

Are you already using a portfolio career? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Thanks raissa caselas for the great image via Flickr

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Advice

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