Solo to Specialized18 Nov 2010
I recently transitioned from being a self employed consultant, to a corporate employee. I went from wide responsibility of all aspects of my own business into a specialized cog at a big, high speed corporation.
I enjoyed the freedom of working on my own schedule, choosing my own priorities, and moving in the direction I choose. Freedom is liberating, but a challenge to sustain. You can’t rely on anyone else to carry you. It takes determination and endurance to conquer each unique task that arises in your work projects and business administration. Not an expert on tax law? Time to learn quick or hire a consultant. Need to take a vacation? Your projects won’t get done with out you. It’s all you, the good and the bad. Some days go well, others don’t, but your task is to sustain your quest toward your own definition of success.
In contrast, the corporate environment is organized and optimized. I was hired to be one part of a larger team, which is in a larger department in a larger company with multiple locations, with an international reach. Instead of balancing an array of responsibilities, I’m focused on one set of tasks which I apply repeatedly to a specific type of project in an exact timeframe, during business hours, in the company’s facility. Working in a team of specialists that are focused, toward carefully planned goals, has benefits in efficiency and productivity. Each member of the organization is able to focus on their specific task and rely on others to provide their complimentary piece of the puzzle. The organization is appropriately rigid and strategically focused on its specific measure of success, while the individuals seek further development/advancement for themselves.
I don’t know which I prefer, there are benefits and challenges to each. I like taking the afternoon off on a whim. I also like the camaraderie a group provides. I like making a big impact on small projects, but it’s also rewarding to make a small impact on a big scale. I’m grateful for the option to try each work environment and I aim to learn from each situation.
For the moment, the idea of a small, diverse team of specialists that collaborate in a creative and flexible environment seems like the most attractive arrangement. It can combine flexibility of being solo with the productivity of a team, while retaining a size that allows greater ownership of the work than a bigger company can foster.