Last week I had the pleasure of addressing local startup Airtasker’s first annual Community Summit in Sydney. I’ve been following Airtasker and its founder Tim Fung’s progress almost since the beginning, and it was great to hear how he and his crew slugged it out to get to where they are now. It was also great to chat to a number of the people for whom Airtasking has become a signficant (and in some cases, sole) source of income.
In my speech I talked about my own journey from fulltime employment to freelancing – a lifestyle I have been embracing now for close to 13 years. What I love about the way I work now is the flesibilty to work across multiple projects simultaneously and assert some direction over my life – much more so than I ever felt I could in fulltime employment. Its something that many Airtaskers – or freelancers generally – struggle with, especially when freelancing is dismissed as a euphemism for being unemployed.
Hence my speech touched on the need for Airtaskers (and all people really) to plan out their lives and where they want to get to – and start thinking about the steps they will take to get from where they are now to where they want to be. I also spoke of the need to think of themselves as entrepreneurs – even if they are only ever going to manage a company of one employee – and learn some of the lessons of the startup community in terms of running a successful business.
One of my key lessons was the need to envision the future, and stay ahead of the disruptive changes the are eating away at the fringes of many professions – retailing, accounting, law – and of course, journalism. Often it takes a major event – such as a zombie apocalypse or the collpase of revenue from display advertising sales – to motivate us to change our skillsets and head in new directions.
But as anyone who has ever seen a zombie film knows, waiting for the apocalypse offers you little chance to avoid it.