Why did I choose to become a Solopreneur?
I started my career in the fascinating field of biomedical sciences. I worked as a researcher for five years after finishing my Masters, and I have been doing pretty well. I went on to work at some of the most prestigious institutes on the planet and worked with some of the smartest brains from all around the globe. My academic and professional pursuits took me to the UK, Netherlands, and Australia. I was really enjoying the biomedical field. I was motivated and was all set for a traditional PhD-Postdoc-Academia career path.
However, during my stay in Sydney, I realized that my long-term personal priorities were not getting aligned with my career path. I never wanted to settle abroad. My aim was always gaining valuable international exposure, and come back to India. After spending 6 years abroad on my own, I was emotionally burnt out. I was literally craving to return home more than ever at that time.
I was immensely passionate about human medicine and drug discovery. Unfortunately, research for new and novel drugs doesn’t happen too much in India. The Indian pharmaceutical industry thrives on the generic medicines due to socio-economical demands and the lack of funding & infrastructure as well. So, I decided to switch my career.
Now, switching career is always tricky. In my case, it was even trickier. Unlike few other fields, biomedical research field does not provide a wide range of transferrable hard skills. I didn’t know anything about coding. I was not a finance guy. I was good at Maths, but I was out of touch. My statistical skills were limited. I didn’t know that much about Sales & Marketing. But, I was motivated to have a change in career.
So, I looked back at my career graph and tried to identify my transferable soft skills. At the same time, I considered my personality, hobbies, interests, and preferences. I have always been interested in a career that allows me to express myself, be empathetic, traveling places, and helping others. So, I was looking for a career where I can utilize my research skills, international exposure, domain knowledge, creativity and my study abroad experience. At the same time, I wanted to have to have fun, flexibility and doing something meaningful towards the society. Then I thought to give a shot to a career in education counseling and career consulting.
After coming back to India, I started working with a Delhi-NCR based start-up. To be honest, the transition was smoother than I expected. The new career path did allow me to use my skills, knowledge, and experience. I also worked on acquiring new skills and personal branding. I leveraged my writing and social media skills and discovered two new hobbies – blogging and social media marketing.
After working for two years, I realized three of my core preferences were missing. Even the research career was challenging – long working hours in the lab, time pressures, and the uncertainty of contract renewals (along with work permit & visa issues). But, I had a healthy life-work balance, continuous professional development at the workplace, and the opportunity to travel at least three to four times in a calendar year. The start-up employment demanded long hours. I even had to work after working hours and during the weekends. Sometimes I needed to be in the hard-core sales mode. I am good with soft selling and marketing. I am not at all a sales guy, and I was hardly being myself. I lost self-motivation and started to have problems with appetite and sleep cycle.
Switching a company wouldn’t have helped that much as it would have been more or less the same everywhere. I spoke to other people. I re-evaluated myself and went through self-reflection for days. I always had the counseling and admission consulting skills. With time, I developed blogging, content marketing, and social media marketing skills. My core strengths lie in research, creativity, and analytical thinking. Besides, I always had the tendency to walk the path that is less-traveled. Be it while embarking my Master’s studies in the UK during crunch job crisis (even more for the international students), moving across countries, and switching careers – I always have had the impulse in me for takings risks in my career. So, I bid adieu to full-time employment and started working as a freelancer (or say, solopreneur). After all, there are few awesome things about being a solopreneur.
At present, I am working as an independent study abroad counselor and career adviser on two online platforms (Stoodnt & Careerizma). I am getting clients for counseling and admission consulting. I also started to get references for freelance blogging, social media marketing, and digital branding. I have been acting as a professional mentor to undergrad students from different continents and time zones; thanks to the accelerating trends in technological & digital disruption of the EdTech sector.
Not being on salary is indeed scary. But, I knew that getting started is always going to be the biggest hurdle. Money is important for me, but up to a certain point. In the last six months as a solopreneur, I have been able to pay my bills. I already traveled twice in these six months. More importantly, I got back my peace of mind. I still work 10 – 12 hours a day sometimes; but no one is pressurizing me. I get time to take on online courses to improve my skills. I don’t necessarily need to drag myself to any place. I can work from anywhere, even when I am traveling.
I can work according to my own schedule and preferences. I am If I get an idea for a blog post in the middle of my sleep, I don’t need force myself go back to sleep, as I am no longer required to turn up at the workplace. Even the idea of this post struck me at 3:45 in the morning. It is 6:00 am now and hey… I have finished my first article for ThriveGlobal 🙂