Developing a mindset for independent working

Charles Russam, owner of, says it is vital to have the right mindset if you want to be a successful independent worker.



Albert Einstein said: “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” It need not have been Einstein who said it – hundreds of people have said similar things. All of that makes it true – but the real opportunity has to be spotted and you do need the mindset to turn it into reality. Even if you think you’re being forced into independent working – for instance, as a contractor, interim manager or freelance, it will probably disappoint if you can’t adopt the right mindset.

This current crisis has not yet fully developed – there are conflicting reports and areas where we know change has happened but which has not yet been reflected in the figures. But we do see change happening in all areas – and unemployment is a real prospect.

However, if you look at the monthly Office for National Statistics employment statistics you’ll see that, out of a total UK population of 65m, 33m constitute the working population and only 55% of this are Full time Employees – adjusted to exclude those with second jobs and temps. The other 45% is everyone else. Much of this 45% defies categorisation – but it is these people who are in charge – partly or wholly – of their workload and commercial destinies. We call these people “Self Drive Workers”. (Look this up on google.) It is a sort of massive gig economy – but hugely complex and continuously changing. We see the move – for a growing number of professional people from Dependency to Independence as a crucial niche and trend in the UK’s professional workplace.

Of all the material written about independent working, you can boil it down to three short phrases – Define your PPP (personal professional product) – Be good at it – Find the work. If you have a viable PPP, you are in the driving seat. You are selling a product; not waiting for someone to come along and buy it. Being good at what you do is a full-time process and clients keep asking you back; if you’re not good, you spend all your time marketing. Selling is one third knowhow; one third persistence and one third luck. Have a look at .

If you treat this mantra seriously, you can make it work for you. Importantly, it is YOUR business. You can’t get fired. You can go bust. You can peak and trough like all businesses – but, whatever the economy does, it is within your own resources to do something about it – rather than being at the disposal of someone else – or be waiting for another employer to come along.

Reflect on these two quotes from Steve Jobs – “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” And this one – “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.”

*Charles Russam owns and, with others, runs – a specialist career advisory business supporting senior director-level executives coming off the permanent payroll into an independent working lifestyle.

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