Guest post by Bernard Crouch
Fifteen years ago I finally made the leap to being a portfolio worker. I had previously read Charles Handy’s book and marvelled at the idea, which at the time was still an unusual concept!
My background was primarily sales with a sprinkling of engineering, marketing and PR, my last FTE was at a small workplace consultancy where I won new business and also had a major input into our website, press releases and image bank.
Getting started is a leap of faith, of finances and trust in ones own ability to juggle the winning of new business, maintain an online profile and ‘deliver the goods’ to clients whilst life, conspires to distract us.
Here are a few tips;
Often portfolio work starts off with work from a recent employer that almost immediately is providing steady income, however this is likely to end at some point, it may be that you have several other income sources by then, however the recommendation is to calculate what income you need to survive on each month, covering essential outgoings including those incurred as part of your work. This monthly amount times three is your buffer fund, if work has tailed off and you have bills to pay, then the fund is there and all being well you’ll have new income streams before three months of dipping into the fund is up.
Your day rate should reflect what you would expect to earn, allowing that you need to pay tax, have a holiday or two and be able to fund all business related items. A failing that clients often make is to take the annual salary of an employee and divide it by say 220 days (average working year) and then offer that as a day rate. As a portfolio worker you of course have many additional costs, not least days with no income and of course no earnings if you are sick or on holiday for example. So I suggest you take your ideal daily earnings and add in the region of 32% and there is your daily rate. Clients have a tendency to ask for a discount, it’s worth being prepared for this with various options that ensure that you don’t end up out of pocket.
It is a good idea to get into a routine with invoicing, but also to make sure that you always chase any unpaid invoices once they are due. Small businesses or individuals often suffer from late payment, so sending out regular reminders should help to get that money in! There is some excellent accounting software available which will help to ease what many of us find to be something of a chore!
I have always won my new business by networking. This can be a challenge when the work is streaming in and you are working every hour available, but getting along to events and especially meeting new people is really important, talking to people finding out what they do and how you might be able to help them one day and hopefully in turn that they also might be able to help you one day.
Key to building a long lasting and successful portfolio is ensuring that you deliver what your client has requested, meeting all of the agreed deliverables. Whenever possible I list these as part of my proposal and it is worth revisiting these to ensure that you are on track and that you haven’t started to suffer from project/mission creep.
When a client is happy with my work I generally ask both for a reference and also that they pass my details on to anyone they know who might be looking for similar services. Winning new work when you have been highly recommended cannot be beaten.
With thanks to Bernard Crouch of Acumen FM, Facilities & Workplace Management Consultants
Photo credit: @Jeremy_Clyne (twitter)
The first full business week of the new year is over. I was going to sit down on Sunday, 12 January 2020 around 5pm London time to write this piece.
But, I was going to write about an email accountability practice I started in August 2019. I was going to write about how supportive it has been in fulfilling my weekly goals; how it has set me up in 2020 to move forward with a dream to publish my novel-memoir. I was going to write about the importance of unpaid work in being of service and being of value to family, friends, and those I hardly know. Unpaid work does not figure in a country’s GDP estimates but without it an economy would crawl to a halt.
Earlier on Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk in the rare winter sunshine through a park near my home. I was meeting my sister in Balham, southwest London. A car was parked at an odd angle between two large trees on the roadside along my usual path. It seemed twisted. A couple of men were standing at separate respectful distances from the vehicle, a black BMW. There were pieces of black plastic or metal on the ground up to ten feet from the car in all directions. The distinctive grille was missing, the front of the car was gone. The shimmering engine block, exposed, was compacted and shredded. The tree stood resolute.
The passenger cell of the car was intact. The windscreen shattered but holding together. The driver side airbag had been cut, spread open, and pink stained. The occupant(s) had been removed long ago. A pile of fabric lay on the path, sky-blue layered over white.
Whose dreams died today? Did the driver take the blind bridge a little too fast? Surprised by some parked car or obstacle on the other side? Swerved onto the oncoming lane and smashed into the base of the tree? I used to drive a similar car - sturdy, responsive, fast. I always felt safe in my black BMW. 230 brake horse power. My heart now felt heavy, the ground sacred.
Do not let your dreams die this year because you are too busy or because you have a horrible boss. We each have a time limit. Our expiry date is unknown. Your unique talents are meant to be shared otherwise, left unexpressed, they will kill you.
2020 is your year.
Let’s do this.
Angela G Horne, https://angelagabrielahorne.com
By Rupa Datta
This time last year, I wrote a similar piece about interviews. As life is cyclical, an opportunity has come around again and it is that time of year anyway where many of us are making decisions about the future and career direction.
A couple of months ago, I was asked to consider a role for next year. Part of the process of course is doing some research into what that may entail, be it through looking things up or through conversations with people who would know better or have been there before. It also gives you the opportunity to think about what your perceptions are of a given situation, what you can bring to the role and your ‘why’.
Last week, I took myself through the first part of the process which involved formal paperwork. Here are my key takeaways:
The Application Form - These come in different shapes and sizes, and are often cumbersome, but they do serve a purpose. They are highly generic and to me, a test of the applicant’s attention to detail. You may be requested to remember dates of roles previously held and sign that you understand what your declaring is true. It may also serve as a checklist to ensure you have collated all the information required for the entire application. I think back to my 7 years in recruitment. The form was about 4 pages long, but I had the eyes of a hawk on two particular sections.
The photo - A few years ago, a wonderful chap Bob Harvey-Jenner used the statement ‘a great headshot is an investment, not an expense’ at a networking event. It took a while for me to fully understand this but when I did, not only did I commission Bob to do me a shoot, he also became a partner to Portfolio People. https://www.lifethroughalense.com/
More recently, we’ve been doing a lot of work as a business on things like your digital footprint and visual voice. For more on this, I’d recommend checking out www.kirti168.com In a nutshell, it is more important than ever to have a current photo of yourself when going for roles so if possible, do spend some time with subject matter experts on this and ensure you are expressing your most authentic self as part of the process.
The bio - This sometimes comes as part of the application form but worse, many people default to sending the link to their Linkedin profile or a resume or CV. That’s fine if that is what is being asked for but often that isn’t the case. And that is where you fail.
For said application, the bio did indeed ask for elements of what you may find on above such as education information and previous roles. The bulk of it however was competency based, asking me to reflect on skills and experience I have in certain areas. Much of it was generic but the trick here is to be specific as far as possible.
So what has this experience taught me?
I’ve not yet decided whether or not I will hit ‘send’ yet, but going through the process so far has been powerful enough in itself. I’ve been able to reflect on where my gaps and limitations may be as well as what I have achieved to date.
One of my main goals on this trip, in addition to finding the space to reflect, was also to write and to get back into a certain rhythm doing so. Once again, I reflect on this past year being one where I try to write a little every day if only to get some bullet points down about the hours before and after. It's not as much as I would like.
A number of people have been privy to the knowledge that I'm working on a book on networking and finding the flow for it here was also an intention. Whilst I've made progress, the output won't be the finished product when the time related goal comes around. I know those that are to hold me accountable will raise it, and that's ok. I'm comfortable things are going at the pace they should.
So what types of writing have I experienced of late?
Written by Rupa Datta, Lead Agent, Portfolio People
For me the last week or so has been about slowing life down to the sort of pace that really allows one to reflect on time gone by and plan for the next year, something that most of us do to varying degrees each year. This first post of a small series is a little bit of a cheat as this year I have managed to read a fair bit, mainly on trains and planes, but also try to do so for a little bit ahead of going to sleep each night.
Those that know me will already know that I truly believe certain books appear just at the write time or call to you just when you need them. To that end, I'd like to share with you what I'm reading during this period and why.
1. The MBA Day by Day by Chris Dalton - this is the 2nd iteration of 'The Everyday MBA' by one of my old business school professors. Even if I pack books when travelling, there's something about having a look at airport book stores that may yield a gem. For me this is a slow read, but also a reference one. So far, its taken me right back to some of my learnings during that period, but with refreshed content also speaking to me in terms of where I am now both in a corporate capacity and as a leader.
2. Be Free where you are by Thich Nhat Hanh - This book was in my brother's apartment and he suggested I may like to read it. He's a psychiatrist and it was given to all delegates of a conference he attended a few years ago. A short, succinct read that I read in a morning and could revisit in the future with some core mindfulness leanings that one can put into practice should they choose immediately.
3. Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini - This book was suggested by a relatively new team member who joined the company I work for last year. As a result, it was purchased and gifted by the MD to the entire sales team. I've since moved teams and asked if I could borrow a copy for my holiday read. At the time of writing, I'd started it, however suspect it will be a slow read and one I can continue whilst travelling and back on the road.
4. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath - a book I vaguely recall reading whilst writing my final project at business school. As with point 1, the content has been updated however re-reading this now has reminded me a few gems whilst learning new ones. As with point 2, my brother left it on the table for me as he thought it may be my cup of tea. It was gifted to him by a friend of his and he hasn't gotten around to reading it yet.
5. How to work like a CAT by Karen Wormald - my brother is a self-confessed cat lover and over the last week, I've been spending time with his cat. I'm pretty sure I even bought him this book but don't remember! I've read it before and a nice easy read that can be finished over a cup of coffee. A funny little book to use some cat characteristic to navigate organisations!
So those are my 5 main reads at the minute. I'll update above accordingly. What books are speaking to you at the moment?
Guest blog by Sumit Sharma
The universe works in mysterious ways. I am forever being shown this. I’ll tell you why;
Last year Rupa met with me to help me figure out the areas of my life I felt passionate about, the tangents of thoughts, ideas and projects that were flitting around my mind, things that I had decided I identify with and how I went about making my mark on the world.... My Portfolio!
She has always championed my cause, showing support to my movements, and of course, helped guide me through my own thoughts and realise the portfolio I had in front of me. At this meet she also casually asked me to write a guest blog.
I wrote it down on my to-do list.
And have forever been pushing it back, reprioritised it, pushed out by weeks, months, till one day it lands on top of my list, I even came to this site to re-read guest blog, by Anthony Bennet on saying YES and not too soon later did I get an email from the team at Portfolio People to write a piece... the universe hey, its been decided that I’m doing this then, with joy of course!
What’s also musing to me is how my portfolio is so heavily influenced by my parents’ passions and roles in societies and the jobs and ladders they climbed. My mother has been a school teacher for 30-something years and also lead and instigated many local groups, including a multi-lingual story club at the local library. She heavily influenced my educational achievements and pushed me down routes of speaking, reading and writing and was instrumental in my uptake of a part time role at a successful tuition centre. My father was studios and deep into the ever-growing IT sector, where most of my technical passions stem from. Both very hard working and esteemed role models for the growing mind of Sumit Sharma.
Today, I am a solutions architect for a global cloud company, where I look to solve business problems with cutting edge technology. I also teach, educate and give back. I taught as a senior supervisor and tutor part time during my studies and now constantly hold workshops for younger crowds, assist at local schools and volunteer time to youth organisations.
I literally have a portfolio of projects I am involved in.
This can sound somewhat flustering, it flustered me for many years, but with the help of mentors, guides and leading lights, I've come to formalise what my two main verticals are.
1. Being a technologist. through my career, working to solve business problems using technology. I do this as a matter of habit, I admire and appreciate the technological advancements made in various sectors and am in awe of what the future holds. There has been no other sector that has empowered the human race to be more connected, be able to communicate in a plethora of ways, instantly and through ubiquitous systems and platforms. IT is seen to be fundamentals to healthcare, where we are able to leverage technology to simulate test environments, carry out remote operations and analyse health data.
I scope out and help these services as part of my day job. To be able to have a commercial conversation and simultaneously balance the need for accurate technical information requires clarity, it requires effectivity, herein lies my passions for public speaking:
2. Effective communication and public speaking. Today, too little time is spent face to face, we very quickly whatsapp each other, send a text, an imessage, logon to facebook or slack each other, for the sake of convenience or just so that we don’t need to speak directly to people.
When we do get actual face-time, real interaction, we are somewhat reserved in what we say, for fear of offending and often post conversation think, ‘I should have said this’, or ‘I should have said that’, it is those few and far between live moments that I hold key, in which we should be communicating the most efficiently.
In todays working world, we have executive leadership, senior managers, C level execs, D level leaders, who, respectfully and admirably have reached their positions through experience and graft, but, when holding a presentation or giving a speech are not receiving engagement from the audience or even getting their message across. In todays market and hyper critical businesses, this, quite simply, will not do anymore. Nobody wants death by PowerPoint or hours of a draining voice. They want to be told a story, led on a journey, be a part of the experience. It’s time we got better at speaking, giving speeches, to be eloquent orators. This confidence alone will allow you to take on new challenges and realise new opportunities.
-- We are multi-faceted beings, with skills outside of a job description or a written testimonial, with a portfolio ready to be realised. We have many skills, unique in each approach, thought and character and our gift to the world is the ability to provide a new view, a different thought or an alternative solution.... that can ultimately help one another and humanity as a whole.
Look no further than the actions you take and the passions you think about to realise what your portfolio is, we all have one, in some way, all it requires is discovery.