The golden days of the digital and gig businesses are on the horizon. While plenty of businesses and entrepreneurs have already succeeded in earning attention, profit and sometimes even vast fortunes, the market is still expanding.
The old-world model of business used to put power in the hands of the wealthy, but the current era of digital marketing puts power into the hands of the skilled. This radical and necessary shift in market factors has been happening over the last 20 years, and there are plenty of success stories to prove that the trend is rising.
Small businesses that once believed they’d be forced out of the market can now experience successes that were never possible in their hometown. Big businesses that treat their customers poorly and succeed based on a lack of competition are failing at a record pace. And to top it all off, the independent entrepreneurs have the freedom, tools, and access to labor that they need to achieve success. The market is thriving.
Going independent in a modern context means that a person or small business now has the ability to remove most or all control by outside entities. Entrepreneurs can call the shots, small businesses can secure premium prices and large businesses can cater to different markets. The best part of going independent is that most of these entities understand what it takes for them to be happy and enjoying life, and the digital era of independence allows them to move closer towards that happiness. The only caveat here is that happiness is a personal matter, and so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The path is inherently personal.
The basics of going independent are quite simple, but implementing them varies. For example, a large business might have several factors that need to be eliminated before they are able to successfully end their reliance on outside sources. Small businesses might have plenty of opportunity but too few customers. Entrepreneurs might need new outlets, outsourced work, and mere opportunities for profit in order to establish themselves. And within these three subcategories, preference and success can change from day to day. However, even with all of this possible variety, there is a simple method of approaching independence that remains the same among all of these entities.
It’s Methodical: Put Your Interests First
The method of going independent is based entirely on putting your interests first. Interest here is a twofold word, and it is best understood in terms of security and preference. There is a risk in getting too hung up on preference or security, but both of them are like sides of the same coin, and there is no way to be truly independent without both. Security in finances, long-term stability and operations is something that all businesses and entrepreneurs strive to achieve.
Achieving Financial Security
Financial security implies that even after the bills are paid, there is a comfortable cushion to protect the business from any circumstances that cannot be controlled. More importantly, financial security is protection against factors that can easily be predicted and mitigated against. The failure of a business tends to revolve around an inability to meet costs more than anything else, and profitability is usually factored into this equation. Financial security could then be seen as the ability to simply meet necessary costs and reduce them to the lowest manageable form to maintain a business model.
Achieving Long-term Stability
Long-term stability is a separate form of security and revolves around factors like skilled labor, market conditions, and competition. Long-term stability is only achieved after financial security has been reached, because long-term stability is highly reliant on financial power. Long-term stability could be understood as the security of all factors that are not directly financial. A great example of this would be a skilled laborer: if a skilled labor were to leave the business, they would place a gap in the system that could not necessarily be filled with money alone. Another example could be a business connection, warehouse pricing, and advertising avenue or other line of communication that is a significant part of expenses and revenue.
Achieving Operation Security
The final form of security is in operations. Logistics, transportation, marketing, organization, location and personnel all affect operations. When big businesses talk about overhead, these are the factors that they are most often referring to. Smaller businesses often do not need as much of this overhead, but it exists in some capacity with any and all business models. Operations are the true process by which profits are achieved, and so an end to operations is an end to profit. The system that conducts operations may be resilient to simple changes, such as an employee calling out sick, but it can be entirely halted by a single machine failing to turn on. In this sense, security of operations is somewhat tied to financial security, but the two are still independent because aspects of operations cannot simply be remedied with money.
The alternate form of operation security is to have a long chain of backup strategies in the event that any part of the system begins to fail. A single day of operations might seem insignificant for long-term profit, but it is the problems that can arise as a result of failed operations that are most severe. A great comparison to operations would be the human immune system. If our immune system is failing, we can still fix it without getting sick. However, if we do fall ill, it is often far harder to fix that illness than it would have been to maintain the immune system. Failing operations might be easy to fix, but once a vulnerability has been exposed, the system becomes far more susceptible to threats.
On Preference and Personal Interests
The other side of independence is preference. While achieving security is great, it does not necessarily imply that preference has been achieved. A house can be perfectly secured without being a dream home. If the far end of the business-failure spectrum is the entrepreneur that won’t make business decisions because they “don’t want to,” the other end is the suit-and-tie success story that hates his job.
Preference is like a compass that points towards an ideal life. While it can be easy to ask people about their dreams and preferences, it is rare that they have a specific strategy to achieve those dreams and preferences. By merely seeking their own preference in life, most business owners and entrepreneurs might find that their goals and aspirations are moving them further from true happiness than they would like to believe. Preference only comes from desire, and the bottom line of preference is that in order to achieve it, a strategy must be conceived. True preference is a matter of choice, so there is no room to gamble. It must be strategic.
Forming a strategy of preference is all about remembering the above forms of strategy and doing some self-searching. What exactly is more ideal? It doesn’t matter if it’s more profitable or less stressful, all that matters is that it is a step towards a preferred life or lifestyle. Remember, some executives have quit their seven-figure jobs to travel the world and become schoolteachers, so profit and occupation are clearly only small aspects of true happiness. Independence can only be achieved, then, when reliance is reduced to a minimum, security has been secured, and preference can guide decision-making. All other forms of independence are simply small steps towards true independence.