In 2014 there was around 4.5 million people registered as self-employed in the UK. This is a record. Most experts believe that the 2008-2009 economic recession was responsible for the growth and no doubt it contributed to much of it.

However, there can be no doubt that the flexibility and freedom of having a portfolio career at executive level also contributed to the high number of self-employed people in the UK. This blog looks at the advantages of having a portfolio career.

What is a Portfolio Career?

A portfolio career is where you utilise your skills, abilities, and qualifications in several part-time positions rather than one fulltime position. For example, you might be running your own business two days a week, teaching for a day, and consulting for two more.

You may be mixing skills and hobbies as well. If you’re a business consultant for example, you might be doing that three days a week while buying and selling collectable items takes up two days of your time and brings in some extra cash. Flexibility is a big part of portfolio working.

Another option is to take intermediate management positions. Here, you have a contract for a fixed amount of time and then move on to a new contract when one finishes.

Advantages of a Portfolio Career

Providing you know your financial break, a portfolio career will give you the following advantages:

  • Control: You have far more control over your working life than you do when in fulltime employment. Projects which have the potential to frustrate and involve considerable complexity can be avoided, or taken on for more pay. If you need a day to go to the doctor or to pick-up a family member from the airport it is no issue. You’re the boss.

With many fulltime positions there are aspects about the work you like and dislike. In theory at least you can avoid the aspects you dislike with a portfolio career.

  • Variety: Working several positions rather than one avoids stagnation and keeps the work interesting.
  • Avoiding Politics: According to, office politics has driven one in five in the USA to a portfolio career. As you are flying solo politics is minimised.
  • Security: Oddly, having several positions can provide more security than having one as not all your eggs are in one basket. So rather than worrying if your job is at risk you gain strength from knowing should one position fold, you have a few others to fall back on.
  • Opportunities: Portfolio careers can often take you in unexpected directions bringing opportunities that you probably never foresaw.
  • Personal Growth: Arguably, portfolio careers give you more opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment than a fulltime paid position.

Of course there are disadvantages. You do not have paid sick and leave time, and you have to be actively networking to build relationships and find work. Often, your earnings in real terms are less, and if you are in a secure fulltime position giving it up to go out on a limb is both scary and perhaps not the best choice.

That said, portfolio careers can give you much more than working conventionally, and given the precarious nature of employment at the moment, and the demise of the job for life concept, this could easily be the best choice for you.

To learn more about portfolio careers, networking, and running a business, get in touch. We have helped hundreds of executives find their feet without the corporate safety net, and we can help you network, build your business, and build your personal brand.

Source: UK Parliament