I’m on a journey to living and working independently. I’ve come a long way in the past decade, learning the tech and marketing skills you need for an independent business.
I spend my days writing and filming content for The Wayfinder and helping people build robot-powered businesses so they can spend their time doing what they’re best at.
I’m a creative at heart; I write, direct and act in plays and I’m also an independent novelist, writing under the name James Laurence Wood (in a vain attempt to not be confused with that charming oddity, actor James Woods, I stick my middle name in there. Got it from my grandad.)
So why am I starting with this peculiar bastard love child of a LinkedIn bio and an online dating profile? Because, dear friends, the age of the faceless corporation is over. In this new(ish) world of instant global communication and anonymously posted content, trust is the new currency. You can’t buy it and you can’t succeed without it. If the independent life calls to you I’d love you to join me on my journey. There’ll be no artifice, no sales pitches, no... what’s the word? Bull crap. I’m here to share what I learn. I hope it helps you.
So, back to the point: where can The Wayfinder lead you?
The skills they should have taught at school
What was your favourite lesson at school? Mine was English Literature. Apart from nearly ruining my ability to enjoy reading novels, it was great, but I don’t spend my life analysing books. It taught me the skill of getting information from text and writing my thoughts on it, supported by evidence to make it more persuasive. It’s a useful skill to have. I’m using it right now, in fact.
The same is true of most school lessons: they teach you important basic skills, but very few that are enough to help you through the rest of your life. We all need the ability to read, write and do some level of maths and science, but what about the rest?
In a capitalist society like ours, where are the lessons about running a business, about how to handle your finances or get a mortgage? Where are our lessons on all the laws we’re expected to live by? Why aren’t we taught how to be change-makers in this somewhat-democratic system we live in?
Footnote: we do not, of course, live in true democracies. The UK is a constitutional monarchy and the USA is a democratic republic. We the people don’t vote for laws, we vote for the people who vote for laws. This has the effect of requiring us to be significantly less involved in the issues that affect the running of the country we live in.
In short, schools teach us useful foundational skills and some of the facts about the world, but not the skills that let us take charge of our lives.
Have YOU been mis-sold the perfect life?
Come to think of it, we’re not even taught about the type of life we might want to live.
There’s a strong, heavy-handed emphasis on good job, mortgage, marriage, children. Be a good consumer: you keep spending so you need to keep working. Rinse and repeat for generations. But there’s so much more potential in our modern world than that.
Here’s the unsettling truth: as a species we are willing to give up almost anything for the sake of convenience. We’ll accept a solution to a problem that’s much worse, or much more expensive, so long as we don’t have to think about it or do more than click a buy button.
But we don’t have to live that just-over-broke life. We are much more capable than we think, and modern technology can help us use our talents in ways not even dreamed of 30 years ago.
Today’s technology has changed our potential
At the risk of sounding incredibly aged, back in my day, when I was first starting out working independently, courses in web development and marketing took years and cost thousands. Starting any significant size of businesses required staff and investment and significant business risk. Creative endeavours were still strictly controlled by the gatekeepers in the publishing and entertainment industries.
Now, technology means all of that is more instant, more affordable and more manageable. The rise of the no-code revolution means you can build online businesses and automate them so that you can spend your time doing what you’re best at. You can reach fans and customers anywhere in the world and prove that a product will sell before you even write the first word of it. You can advertise to exactly the people you want to reach without wasting money on blanket marketing. You can work from anywhere at any time, fitting your work around your life. And, most importantly, you have the power to create, publish and distribute your work around the world yourself, with just a laptop and an internet connection.
Employment isn’t as safe as it seems
Moving from employed to self-employed feels like a big deal. On the surface it looks like abandoning security for freedom. And while that’s still a chance plenty of people would, and do take, it’s not really a fair description.
The 2020 pandemic lockdowns proved just how fragile jobs can be. Even with temporary furlough schemes, jobs disappeared when the support ran out. Businesses changed their priorities and employees found themselves cast out, with nothing they could do to prepare against it or stop it.
The bottom line is that relying on someone’s else’s business for your livelihood is putting you and your family completely in the hands of someone else. Their skill, ambition and luck will shape your life.
You achieve success by begging at the table of those running the business. You income will always been limited to the smallest amount they can get away with giving you in return for your time. And your time is the most precious thing you have. There’s no amount of money that can let you buy back time you’ve wasted at the coal face of someone else’s business.
Job security is an illusion. You’re selling your one irreplaceable resource for the lowest feasible market rate, and the income’s not even as reliable as we like to think it is.
Security comes from confidence in changing your situation
Things happen in the world that you can’t predict and can’t stop. Natural disasters, political failures, economic downturns, technological developments.
Hoping that these things won’t happen to you is a recipe for a life of anxiety and resting precariously on the razor blade of fate.
The human species has prospered because it can adapt to new situations and find new ways to thrive. We need to take that into our own lives. We can build the skills to adapt to new environments and live the life we want to live whatever the world throws at us.
The Wayfinder is what I needed
To become a true independent requires a change of your mindset and an expansion of your skillset. Both of those need fuel: changing your mindset needs inspiration and building your skillset needs learning.
The Wayfinder is what I needed when I first started. That’s why I built it. It’s a library of ideas and skills, available when you need them in your journey. Come across a problem you need to solve in your business? Need to learn how to market yourself on social media, or automate your finances? Need to write better marketing pages? Need to keep your stress under control? That’s what my articles, tutorials and courses are for.
It’s also a place to feel confident and inspired about the possibilities of an independent life. It’s a guide book to take along with you on your journey. And it’s a community of people who have the same yearning for an independent life that you do.
If you’re ready to get started, or even if you’re not quite there yet and just fancy a browse, I’m want to help you find the life you love and make it work.