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Has the pandemic given you an opportunity to re-think your personal priorities and re-assess your relationship with your boss? Perhaps you have been on furlough or suffered redundancy and you are ready to make a fresh start.

For many of us, working for oneself appears to be an extremely attractive option: work when you want, where you want, for whom you want without any boss at all. Best of all, you are making money for yourself and not for anyone else. Maybe you can even turn your hand to creating a disruptive start-up, raise millions and build a ‘unicorn’ like the founders of ‘Deliveroo’ or ‘Just Eat’.

But consider carefully: there is a huge difference between taking your existing skills to become a freelancer and committing to build a business. As a freelancer, you can become self-employed and do very much what you did before, but for several clients rather than just one employer. You do need some business disciplines like finding work, pricing work and keeping your accounts, but mostly you will be doing what you already know well.

Building a business, on the other hand, requires so much more. Your product or service needs to find a distinctive and valued place amongst the competition. Sales and marketing are critical to the process. In addition, as soon as you have people working for you there are a multitude of regulations and processes involved as an employer and manager. Behind all this, financial management and understanding the numbers will be necessary to track growth and ensure viability. You may well need to raise money to fund your ambitions; another sales process all in itself.

I spend much of my time working with enthusiasts, building businesses from an inspirational idea founded in a deep passion. They love the good times and push through the bad times. They know they are shaping their own future. But sometimes, they feel they are working for everybody else apart from themselves: their staff, the customers, the bank, the government, their shareholders. And too often they are working harder than ever before while being at the end of the queue for the rewards. But they love it!

Making the most of the future you will love, by working for yourself.


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.