This post is sponsored by Aflac. The views expressed in this article are my own.
Being an entrepreneur looks really sexy when we’re posting pictures of our laptop at the beach.
Yet, you don’t see the pictures of us in the freak-out pose, both hands grabbing our hair (that probably hasn’t been washed for a few too many days…let’s be honest) as we try desperately to put together a puzzle that feels like it’s missing half the pieces.
I’ve been completely on my own for three years now and there are many days that I feel like I’m one step away from a free-fall, clutching a parachute I’ve patched together with duct tape and old clothes.
However on my rough entrepreneurial days, I think back to those days working where I felt like a cog in a tie while my cubicle walls closed in on me.
For many workers, I think our number one fear might be death by cubicle.
So can there be the best of both worlds?
Well, there was a season where I worked as an entrepreneur of sorts without actually being an entrepreneur, and I think it taught me more than any job I ever did.
How to be an Entrepreneur without fully being an Entrepreneur
I think I’ve done every type of work a person can do.
But one of my favorite/challenging jobs was working for a non-profit to raise awareness for a college scholarship contest to inner-city middle school students in Los Angeles.
I wasn’t a full-time employee. I was an independent contractor with a large territory, a list of goals and resources, and a nice shove out the door to go get the job done as I best saw fit.
This job was wild, hard, fun, and freeing for many reasons.
1. How many people can say they’ve been the headline speaker for a middle school assembly in Compton? Also that I directly followed the band/dance group that absolutely crushed it?
Let’s just say now when I feel my heart start to race before I speak to a room full of business execs, I picture the hundreds of middle school students ready to lead a full-scale mutiny against me the moment they smelled any fear. All those suits and ties I speak to now look a lot less scary.
2. I had support and direction from the organization, yet I only went into their office…once. At the very end of the contest to turn applications in. Mainly, I was completely on my own in how I accomplished the work, if I met my goals, when I worked, where I worked, how I worked, if I decided to wear pants while I made phone calls from my house, etc.
Growing skills as an entrepreneur while under the covering of this non-profit was one of the most valuable work experiences I’ve ever had. It was a pre-cursor training for me in my work now, while simultaneously earning steady pay and organizational support the whole time.
What could a similar type role look like for you?
The Rise of the Independent Contractor and Freelancer
There’s definitely not one set definition or example of what it might look like for you to work as an independent contractor or freelancer. Much of it will depend on your skill set and the type of work you’d like to do.
One example would be working as an independent agent with a company like Aflac (I can hear that duck quack even as I write these words). You’re not an employee chained to a cubicle, you’re an independent contractor building your own business while receiving top-notch sales training, support, bonuses, and the powerful brand recognition from a Fortune 500 company.*
I recently interviewed an Aflac agent and I’ll be sharing that interview soon so you can get an idea of what the actual day-to-day of being an independent contractor at Aflac looks like – the challenges and the opportunities. I did learn through the interview that agents are fortunate to find a multitude of training programs and tactics to suit every possible personality type.
The sweet spot of learning how to be an entrepreneur is when you can do it under the covering of a great organization.
Growing a Business is Challenging, yet Rewarding
As I first wrote in my book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, “Sometimes the most dangerous job you can have in your twenties is a comfortable one.”
The real value of a job isn’t always how much you earn, but how much you learn in the process.
But it’s a pretty sweet combo when you can earn and learn on the job at the same time.
Sure, I learned the hard way in my twenties that sometimes you learn the most in the jobs you like the least. However, I also know when you find that role that challenges, yet supports you at the same time, well that’s like finding career gold.
If you dream of freedom and flexibility, not just being roped down to an office chair because the clock says you have to be there, yet making the jump to being a full-fledged entrepreneur is a bit of a reach for you right now — maybe it’s time to learn the skills of being an entrepreneur while not having to do it completely on your own.
Watch the video below to hear me tell more stories about my experience giving presentations in inner city LA. And get a glimpse of the entrepreneur freak-out pose in action!
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Company of New York. Aflac agents are independent sales agents and are not employees of Aflac.
*FORTUNE 500 is a registered trademark of Time Inc. and is used under License. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Aflac.