Creative Careers Abroad – Unconventional and imaginative self-employment.

I am often very active on social media platforms when and as my time allows, and I often find interesting comments and questions in regard to South Africans, and some other country’s expats too, posting comments and questions on leaving South Africa for a different life in the European Union or the UK, and following on my last article I thought an appropriate response to the one question which stood out above all, and which has become the topic of this article.

A member of one of the ‘South Africans living in the UK’ Facebook post and a civil engineer asked, ‘What salary is a good enough salary in the UK.?’.

Although it sounds very open ended, and obviously this question has many lengthy answers to it, the first answer in my mind and my most appropriate response was ‘how long is a piece of string.?’

However, if you apply non-conventional thought to this, you can arrive at a multitude of results from which you can choose the most appropriate and arrive at the most suitable answers which apply to your or a particular circumstance.

Consider that many people leave an established career to come to the UK for a better and safer lifestyle, while sacrificing their profession and possibly taking up a lesser post in the same or similar industry, or a completely different post in an industry irrelevant to their skill set and so reduce their revenue and income capacity, by taking on any suitable job they can find, or are offered.

This can be a dangerous choice and one not to be made out of desperation or with the attitude of the ‘I’ll take anything’ approach. However, breaking it down, the following obvious and perhaps not so obvious considerations apply.

The dictionary defines the following as ‘Career – an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress,’ while it defines ‘Job – a paid position of regular employment.’

Considering the difference between a job and a career, you need to take into consideration that when leaving either South Africa or any other country for that matter, are you leaving behind a career too.?

If your intention is to take any post or position available, you will inevitably remove yourself from discovering or being available in the future for a more accurate placement suitable to your skillset, by occupying your time at a lesser job.

So, some of the determining factors when moving to another country to work there are:

·         Are you looking for a job or to further your career.?

·         In what industry sector are you in.?

·         What qualification level do you have in your industry sector.?

·         Do you have a track record in your industry and do you intend to grow your track record.?

·         What is your current salary.?

·         In the event of a family moving to other shores, how many dependants is your salary responsible for.?

·         What lifestyle is your current salary supporting such as house, car, social and entertainment, house etc.?

There are many more for sure, but one that you should ask yourself seriously at this point is,  ‘Can I work for myself applying my skill set within my industry sector,?’

In Europe and the UK, one in ten people are self-employed. Reflect on that for a moment.

One in ten people have the capacity to generate a prosperous income from applying their skillset in their industry and are making a resounding success of their efforts.

These are not only native citizens but immigrants from all countries within diverse industry sectors from healthcare to tradesmen.

I belong to our local city business chapter as also the Hampshire Business Chamber and for very good reason. Through my memberships I have exposure to hundreds of potential clients and service providers through these networks and forums and am continually building my network.

So why is this relevant.? Well, to come from another country and joining as soon as possible a forum such as a business group or chamber in your respective community, town or city will in the very least place you on their radar.

I am amazed at the abundant unconventional and sometime bizarre industry sectors which have sprung up and their unconventional work for which there is obviously a need.

Let me explain. Sitting to my right at last week’s business chamber breakfast, I met a chap who is a ‘Cultural Business Facilitator’. This very astute and confident gentleman is someone who facilitates meetings of different cultures doing business together, from across Europe, the UK and the world, but operates locally.

Up and until then I had never heard of such a business or even business sector and this to me was quite amazing as to how successful this chap was at placing people together in meetings, researching their cultures and creating a common ground for discussions to unfold into positive results between the parties.

This chap had an uncanny resemblance to the actor and comedian John Cleese and he was indeed a delight to meet.

To my left was a lady who had made her way in psychological assessment of introvert business people who have a large value in their own industry sector which they provide but are too introvert to really deliver their skills directly. She on the other hand, was the splitting image of the actress Helena Bonham Carter.

Across the room was another chap, who didn’t look like anyone, but who both sourced and provided work for care givers, including assisting them with training and other peripheral component services which they would eventually need in this specific industry.

Another chap only did a 30-mile radius courier and delivery services for private and business clients, using only his car.

On the television the other day on the Sky News breakfast show, the presenter was interviewing the ‘Minister of Loneliness’. Yes, folks, you read that correctly. This country has a ‘Minister of Loneliness’. It also has a ‘Minister of Suicide’, a bleak position I think.

My wife and I were rather surprised at this, another rather bizarre government post, and after a bit of research found that there is an entire industry of previously unheard of fields and industry sectors which can be as interesting, colourful and bizarre as any version of Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

My point I’m sure you have noticed by now, is that there are so many varied opportunities outside of South Africa, which are unhindered by race or gender or BEE or any other restrictive policies. Here you can literally invent something and make it happen, and even obtain the support of government with their funding and service provider support programs too which I covered in my last article ‘To Business Or Not To Business’, and may I add that amongst this innovative and disruptive thinking, South Africans are welcomed with open arms.

Just last Tuesday a poster which I had designed and had order online from ‘Solo Press’ the day before, was delivered to my door by a black South African courier delivery man, a Zulu who himself said he had had enough of the failing country of his birth. He commented “Ek bly vreeslik lekker in hierdie, my nuwe tuisland. Hulle kan hulle failing rainbow nasie maar hou” (I live very well here in my new homeland. They can keep their failing rainbow nation).

I asked how he knew I was from South Africa, to which he cheekily responded that he identified my accent over the intercom earlier, and new I was from his “old country” immediately.

I was pleasantly dumbstruck in my surprise and remained frozen in my stance, as he descended down the stairs and disappeared into the day.

South Africans are most certainly industrious and their culture needs no invite to performance excellence, and as a nation can be proud of their working heritage which has to constantly overcome more and more restrictions from racially reserved opportunities to financial restrictions. Although we remain proudly South African, and love our country, we have enough to offer the remainder of the world who respect and admire us, and who invite our ingenuity, intellect and hard work ethic.

If you intend to move or have moved to the UK, my advice to anyone coming here without pre-arranged work, is to set yourself up as an independent operator within your industry sector.

The opportunities are only as limited as your imagination and South Africans have spades of it.