For better for worse, you define yourself by your career and professional achievements. And why shouldn’t you? Every single one of them has been hard-won. Especially if you work in a professional discipline like education, medicine, business or law where your education and training have been so rigorously challenging.
Yet, when you have children it affords you a certain sense of perspective. The things that used to keep you lying awake at night no longer seem quite so intimidating. And while you may pride yourself on the professional practice you’ve spent years refining or the reputation you’ve developed in the eyes of your peers and clients, it’s fair to say that parenthood has redefined you.
Many new Mums and Dads struggle with finding the perfect balance between their professional and parental selves. This is especially true for those undergoing the journey of parenthood alone. But in an ever-changing and increasingly technologically-led economy, single parents have more options available to them than ever.
Can single parents still have a professional career in 2019? Absolutely!
Find someone who will offer you the freedom of freelance, the support of an employer
If the idea of striking out on your own as a solo practitioner, freelancer or consultant seems a little too scary, there is a way in which you can get the best of both worlds. In an ever-changing economic and technological climate, there are plenty of employers that adopt more flexible working practices to give talented professionals the freedom and control that they need while still ensuring that they are properly rewarded and supported.
Those in the legal profession, for example might want to check out PassionforLaw.com. Practices like Excello Law can afford skilled legal practitioners working as self employed solicitors with the freedom and autonomy of a freelance career combined with the secretarial and paralegal support and IT infrastructure of a well-established law firm with a national footprint.
Free(lance) and clear
One common pain point among single parents who run their own businesses or work in demanding professions like medicine or law is that there never seem to be enough hours in the day. Between them, the demands of a full-time job and a new child can be beyond even the most fastidious parents.
Many find that moving into a self-employed capacity, either as a freelancer or a consultant affords them the flexibility that they need to balance their familial and professional commitments.
But this brings with it its own set of challenges.
Making every hour count
Of course, as all small practices and businesses know, being a great practitioner doesn’t always guarantee the ability to run a successful practice. Whatever capacity you’re working in, whether you’re working as a freelancer or a consultant you’ll need to make every hour count, especially when it comes to billable hours.
And there lies the rub.
When you’re working independently, you need to dedicate more time to the myriad administrative and organisational tasks which make up the life of a self-employed professional. Without the support of an administrative team, it requires exceptional time management skills to keep both sides of your practice sympatico.
There are other caveats, too.
When you work for yourself it’s harder (but not impossible) to get access to continuous professional development and the opportunity to round out your skill set while also building upon your existing aptitudes.
Remember you’re not alone
Starting out on your own doesn’t necessarily mean flying solo. If you’re struggling with time management, remember that there are a plethora of online resources such as virtual assistants and receptionists who can lighten your administrative load at a fairly nominal overhead cost.
Building your network, building value
As any consultant will tell you, you live or die by your network and the level of value that you’re able to bring to your personal brand. As such, you should dedicate a significant proportion of your working week to networking, making new contacts, learning new skills and nurturing the business contacts that will become tomorrow’s paying clients.
Some ways in which you can do this include;
- Attend industry-wide networking events.
- Building relationships with local businesses, individuals and charitable groups.
- Keeping in touch with former clients and identifying opportunities for referrals.
- Attending best practice seminars and webinars.
- Participating in thought leadership by posting regular blogs, tutorials, infographics and other useful resources on LinkedIn as well as your own personal website. This will build value in your brand and qualify your knowledge and skills while providing something of tangible value to prospective clients.
Whichever path you choose, in this fast-paced and challenging yet extremely exciting digitally-led landscape the possibilities for talented single parents are endless.