The great escape

If you're sick of the ratrace but are still feeling chicken about downsizing, fear not. For a small fee, the Breakthrough Network will ease your way towards personal fulfilment

MONEY TALKS, according to Andrew Ferguson, founder of the Breakthrough Network. The trouble is that we don't listen to what it tries to tell us. When it's in short supply its message is that it's time to move on; but when it's flooding in, he says, it's saying much the same thing. The Breakthrough Network aims to help with that move. Over the past ten years, Andrew Ferguson has helped around 8,000 life-shifters; he offers training, counselling, practical support and networking connections.

A former marketing executive with Unilever, then director of a smaller company, he practises what he preaches; he has been self-employed for the past 20 years. "I had reached a glass ceiling," he explains. "I had stopped climbing the ladder and I wasn't very excited at the thought of moving to another company and climbing up their ladder."

While it was satisfying working for himself, it was also, he says, "scary. You realise how alone you are." So in 1988 he set up the Breakthrough Network as a support system for the self-employed. Now, he says, as well as people who are already running their own businesses, he is also contacted by people who are on the point of change and want help to take the next step.

Self-employment, according to Ferguson, is not primarily about making money: it is about personal fulfilment. "Workers want to be rewarded in their souls, not just in their wallets" is one of his principles. Money, he says, far from buying quality of life, takes so much time to accrue that it squeezes all the quality out.

To scale down (or scale up, depending on how you look at things) a proper career-plan is vital. "Look at going part-time in the field you are already in, and simultaneously building up excellence in what you want to do. As you're putting less energy into the job you've been doing, you can put more into training, building your skills and building up your contacts." Think niche marketing, think starting small, think travellable skills that you can carry with you, he advises.

Which is all well and good: but what do I live on in the meantime? One of Ferguson's key points is the minimalisation of costs. As much as a third of income can disappear on staying in the rat race, he says. "What do you need to live on?" he asks. "Say pounds 35 a week. Some people say they need ten times that, others manage on pounds 15. When you are doing what you want, you don't need so many treats, like foreign holidays. My only holiday for the last 15 years has been running workshops abroad - it may be a busman's holiday but I enjoy it."

pounds 35 a week certainly won't cover the mortgage, though. "You may have to scale down your property," says Ferguson (who lives and works from one room in London and one in Scotland, where he spends half his time). "Or let a room. I know someone who's bought a house that's larger than he needs; he'll rent out two rooms and the house will pay for itself."

As for other commitments: avoid. "Minimise unproductive, unnecessary costs. Defer any irrevocable commitments such as children. Too late? Then set up a Family Council and engage them in life shift. Introduce the family to the economic realities of life and the joys of self management." In other words, kids, forget those new trainers.

Once you have downscaled your costs and perked up your expectations, the next step depends on you. Most clients, says Ferguson, see him regularly over a two to three year period, the average transition time. Full membership costs pounds 29.75 quarterly; counselling is pounds 45 for a 90-minute session. He believes that, 25 years from now, virtually everyone will be self-employed and the time to get used to the idea is now. And, he says, it is no bad thing. "The new century will be the freedom century." H.L.

Breakthrough Network: 0181 347 7484

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

    £60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

    AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

    £600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

    E-Commerce Developer

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice