SMP Solutions Guide to Portfolio Careers

• Have you thought about setting up your own business but have held back because you could not decide which route to go down?

• Lots of ideas and options but unsure how to choose?

• Do you love variety and differing challenges?

If so, a portfolio career could be for you!

What is a Portfolio Career?

Employment specialists have predicted for many years that work will become less structured and secure in the future and that we will face constant change in our working lives. This is definitely proving to be true.

To be in control of your own career now means looking at alternative ways of working. To stay employable in the future you will need to adapt to new roles, acquire new skills and master new ways of building a career.

• A portfolio career is one where you have an income from a number of sources
• Perhaps a number of jobs
• A job and a business
• Any combination of activities and skills
• A portfolio career may consist of different working arrangements at different times
• Rather than working for one company you take on various projects and cultivate several clients
• A successful Portfolio Career fits together bits of work in our life to form a balanced whole
• It could typically include periods of employment through short term contracts e.g. project work, temporary or interim work, part-time work perhaps combined with self employment, working from home and even voluntary work
• Basically anything and everything you want it to be to achieve your desired work-life balance and income requirements!

In order to pursue a Portfolio Career, you must be willing to risk personal change.

Some of the PROS and CONS of Having a Portfolio Career:


• Flexibility
• Change
• Autonomy (being in control)
• Excitement
• Development of Expertise and Many Skills
• Personal Freedom & Personal Growth
• Pleasure Doing What One Likes
• Risk Taking
• Variety
• Fast Pace
• Leisure Time
• Money
• Emotional Health
• Meaning
• Continual Learning

If these appeal then maybe a portfolio career is a possibility


• Risk
• Change
• Lack of Stability
• Overwhelming When Deadlines Overlap
• Fast Pace
• Lack of Leisure Time
• Lack of Money (or financial stability)
• Pressure
• Other People's Opinions
• Lack of Company Benefits
• Lack of a Regular Routine

If these are considered negative, it is wise not to consider a Portfolio Career

Starting a small business doesn't have to be an all or nothing enterprise. You can develop into a number of areas and stretch yourself and really maximise your skill set. Most businesses naturally evolve and having a portfolio career arguably makes this easier.

Benefits of a Portfolio Career

• Having a range of items in your portfolio gives you security
• If one of them goes there are always others to fall back on
• Great if you want to achieve more money, more freedom, more variety and more flexibility in your life
• Extends your contact network and gives you the opportunity to develop new skills
• Each piece of work you do adds to your portfolio of skills and experience which you can use to attract more work

• Above all else - CHOICE!!!!!!!

To become a portfolio person, it means not thinking in terms of having or not having a job. Instead, taking control of your life, making flexibility the key and developing a portfolio of skills and activities either for sale or for voluntary work.

How Do I get a Portfolio Career?

Firstly, identify skills and traits that you could sell to form a potential portfolio career that could work for you. Things to consider:

1. What motivates you?
2. Work you enjoy e.g. – driving, painting, communicating, making things:
3. What career(s) would you like to try, if you knew that you wouldn't have to do it forever or on a full-time basis?
4. Any ideas that you have for a home-based or small business, but have not felt would support you full time?
5. Your skills and talents/ what do you have that others might pay for?
6. Your major accomplishments

Balancing your portfolio:

• The balance of your portfolio is likely to change at different periods in your life
• A portfolio career may consist of different working arrangements at different times
• If your career strands fail to provide you with everything you need you may decide to broaden your range of activities
• However, at certain times, one strand may become all consuming
• Caution – don’t try to take on too many different/new career strands at the same time!!
If you have had enough of the corporate world or public sector bureaucracy or generally being an employee then maybe this could be the right career move for you.

The good news is that Self employment or developing a new career does not have to be about doing just one thing!

Author's Bio: 

Steve is a highly professional and experienced career coach, trainer and facilitator and a true people person.

He is a recognised career 'guru', writing numerous articles for well known career websites and journals and also establishing an excellent reputation for public speaking at high profile career events such as One Life Live, Forum 3 and BMJ Career Fairs.

He has worked in sales, operations and human resources positions throughout his career and achieved great success in consistently developing managers, teams and individuals to maximise their potential and deliver excellent performance.

Steve has also supported thousands of men and women across many sectors - both through outplacement programmes for companies plus private clients to unlock their potential and achieve successful career transition, career change or set up their own businesses moving into jobs and careers they really love.

"I am passionate about making a difference to people at all stages in their career, especially aspiring managers and executives and helping clients realise their unique skills and attributes so we can realise career goals together. I get a huge buzz from seeing peoples confidence grow and then move forward to get the job or career they really want and achieve success in their lives".