I had lunch with my friend Brian yesterday. He’d been working at a small, software startup here in Boston and over the weekend the investors decided to pull the plug. No warning, just a phone call and a couple of months severance.
He figures he has three options now:
1. Go to work for a big company.
2. Find another startup.
3. Start something on his own.
What I find most interesting about Brian’s situation is that most people look at that list and assume it’s laid out in increasing order of risk. Ten years ago, I would have thought the same thing, but today, I think that’s totally backwards.
Working for a large company is like being a solo professional with one client. And not just any client; a client in which the decision to keep you on or let you go will often have nothing at all to do with you, your value or your performance. That’s what I call risky.
As solo professionals, on the other hand, we’ve all learned how to “live off the land.” Clients will come and go, but we know where to find more, and we do our best not to become too dependent on any one of them. If you ask me, that’s what security looks like.