When we are kids, we can’t wait to grow up and start making our own money. We are taught that we need to finish school, go to college or pursue a career that will allow us to earn a stable salary. Of course, this salary will help us attain everything we want – a house, happy family, cars and vacations. However, what actually happens is that most of us end up feeling trapped in a job that brings us no joy, just a salary that pays the bills on time. Being an adult no longer sounds as appealing as it did when we were kids, right?
So, is this the way you want to continue living? Or do you want to become a free range human – someone who gets paid to do what they love and on their own terms? Sound too good to be true? Let’s find out.
In this book summary, readers will discover:
- The career-cage deal and why it doesn’t work anymore
- Finding your free-range life
- The four main types of free-range business
- The misconceptions about self-employment
Key lesson one: The career-cage deal and why it doesn’t work anymore
Back in the day, adult life seemed simple. You got a job, earned a stable salary and stayed at the same company until you retired. It didn’t matter if you liked the work or not, you just worked so that you could have enough money to support your family and enjoy your retirement. This was the career-cage deal and workers were satisfied with its terms and conditions. However, times have changed. Jobs began asking more of people. Longer working hours and decreasing job stability meant that more and more people were unhappy in their jobs. Couple this with the fact that we now live longer and kids born today are expected to work well into their eighties, working towards a solid retirement does not mean as much as it used to.
Therefore the career-cage deal is no longer valid in this day and age unless you are in a job that you love, that brings you happiness and fulfilment. If you feel that your job is not as stable or secure as you like, what’s holding you back from pursuing your dreams? If you really think about it, you are self-employed, however, you have just one client – your employer. That means you are essentially at the same risk as a freelancer, possibly even more since your one source of income can be easily taken away. When you begin to see things from this perspective, you realize that starting something on your own doesn’t sound so far-fetched.
Key lesson two: Finding your free-range life
If you choose to begin a free-range life, one of the first things you have to figure out is what you want to do. This might seem easy but it actually is not. Figuring out what you love and want to do with your life is difficult. It is therefore imperative that you take the time to figure it out before you choose hastily. The reason it is so difficult to work through is that our brains contain two main voices. One that is creative and the other which is highly critical. The creative voice is usually quieter even though it has the best ideas. The critic speaks loudly and usually shuts down the creative voice as soon as it has an idea. This is known as the Idea Death Cycle. How many times have you found yourself thinking about a life where you work for yourself and then quickly dismiss the thought because you know it’s not feasible? That is your inner critic speaking.
There is, however, an easy way to break this cycle. Without second-guessing yourself or editing your reply, write down the answers to the following questions. Firstly, when was the last time you felt alive and fully engaged in the moment? And secondly, if you did not have to work for the next year but still received your full salary, what would you do? In terms of the second question, you want to go into detail about what excites you specifically about the idea? Once you have the answers to these questions, you then have to find your superpowers. These will be your strengths, those that you didn’t even know you had!
So, how do you identify your superpowers? Believe it or not, the best place to look for them is to look at your weaknesses. You see, your weaknesses could actually be your strengths – you just are not in the right environment for them to shine properly. Take the author, for example. In her previous career, Cantwell’s boss always reprimanded her for trying to change how things were done instead of completing the task. But no matter what she was working on, she always found herself trying to improve how it was done. When she switched careers, however, this became her job description as she found solutions to problems that clients were not even aware of. Her weakness in one environment became her strength in another. Therefore you need to carefully consider if your weaknesses are really weaknesses. You could just be in the wrong place.
Next up is realizing that you don’t need a completely new idea to be successful. Being original means that you should be yourself. Even if you have competitors with similar ideas, they are not you and will not have the same values or priorities. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to put your own unique flair on an existing idea. Even if you were to take over a business right now, you probably would not do things the exact same way the previous owner did. Being original is all about how you do things. You could aim to make connections that no one else has recognized or developing your own unique style.
Key lesson three: The four main types of free-range business
When most people picture running their own business, most start talking about a coffee shop or a small B&B. This could really be their dream but most of the time, they are picturing what that life would look like and not necessarily the work it involves. In fact, a coffee shop and B&Bs are not the best options for free-range businesses. Firstly, you need quite a bit of start-up capital and making money from the business is not easy. You have to be able to keep up with rent and utility payments.
A free-range business should have minimal costs if you want it to succeed. There are four main types of businesses you can thus try. The first is services whereby you get paid for your time. If you already have skills as a designer or writer, you can start immediately without investing too much money. The only downside to services is that they are time-bound meaning how much you earn is dependent on how many clients you can handle. The second option is to sell virtual products like online courses and e-books. Here, there is no limit to how much you earn once you create your product. However, you will need to have knowledge of the market and the ability to develop a product that will appeal to it. Your third option is physical products. This option is suited only to those free rangers who are truly passionate about their craft, This is because it is both time and resource-intensive. Lastly, advertising can also be an option whereby you create an income by having ads on your site or blog. However, this option only works if you are continuously creating new content otherwise it is mostly considered a side hustle.
Key lesson four: The misconceptions about self-employment
When you are first starting out, there are a few misconceptions that need to be cleared up. First up, a detailed business plan is not needed. Very little about business goes exactly according to plans. You will gain information while you are working on your business and not before it. Therefore it is impossible to predict your plan beforehand. Yes, by definition any plan has to be done before you start but for your free-range business, don’t be so hard on yourself. Business plans are mostly done to convince investors to support new business. However, if you keep your costs low, as all free-range businesses should, you won’t need any investments and thus you won’t need a detailed business plan.
Not having a detailed business plan does not mean you are unprepared though. You will be preparing yourself as you proceed. By actually working on your business, you can make adjustments where you see they are needed. You would not have wasted time trying to predict what issues would arise and how you would deal with them. Instead, you learn continuously as you work.
Next up is that as a free-range human, you don’t need to appeal to everyone to be successful. When you are employed by another, you feel the need to fit into the dynamic of the company and avoid anything controversial. On your own, however, you get to be your authentic self whether people like it or not. You no longer have to pretend to be something you are not just to get people to like you. Sure, some people may not like you, but others will and they are the ones that will be attracted to you and your business.
The key takeaway from Be a Free Range Human:
Many people dislike their jobs but are deterred from the idea of starting something on their own due to the risks involved. After all, starting a business would mean saying goodbye to a stable income. However, how stable is your income? In today’s world, jobs are rarely guaranteed. So, what is stopping you from being a free-range human and starting your own business? You can find the freedom and happiness you desire. All you have to do is take the time to figure out what it is you truly want to do. You may possess strengths you didn’t even realize. All it takes is the courage to take the first step to your success.
How can I implement the lessons learned in Be a Free Range Human:
Do not let fear hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Too often, people fear what will happen if things go wrong or it does not follow the plan they started off with. It’s okay! This is how you will learn and grow. How else are you going to discover your true calling? You have to explore and stumble a bit before you climb the mountain of success! As long as you remain determined to succeed and keep learning along the way, you will be fine.