Ah, the rollercoaster of self-employment. One minute you’re up and the next you’re hurtling towards the ground with astonishing speed. It’s an exciting ride, that’s for sure. As part of my series of blogs on change, I wanted to talk about the change involved with running your own business. One of the biggest lessons I have learned since leaving the ‘security’ of employed work and setting out on my own is that there are moments when you’re filled with confidence and moments when you’re wondering what on earth you’re doing. It’s all normal.
The leap of faith you take (in yourself) takes courage and is a success in itself. Remember that when you have a dip in confidence. For example, many entrepreneurs I speak to you talk about the first five years of business – that it takes that long to feel like it’s working. Again, it’s all normal. That said, it’s OK to change your mind and move back into employment if that is required or if you feel that’s what you need.
Tips for being self-employed
I want to cover some of the changes you might experience when self-employed and give you tips to cope with them
Self-employment is lonely
Running your own business can indeed be lonely. You don’t have the team to bounce ideas off, you might not see another soul for days and you might let your thoughts spiral out of control when you’re in a low moment.
Tip: Get out and try and meet with other entrepreneurs…there are plenty of networking events, business groups and not to mention going for coffee with people you know and trust. The other thing I would add is that choose one which resonates with you. I chose Drive The Network and have learned so much from their collective knowledge and experience. They meet regularly both online and offline and I never feel that any of my questions are too silly to ask. It’s the perfect group for me.
You have to do everything
Now, this isn’t strictly true as you may choose to outsource but on the rollercoaster of self-employment you might feel like it is true in the low moments. Perhaps you are used to thinking about all the different elements of running a business? This might be from working in a small business, managing projects or teams or having done something similar. I remember once however when my computer broke. I didn’t know what to do and spent a day figuring it out – which I did but I lost that time and wished I still had an IT dept!
Tip: Work out what’s important – what’s going to make you money/bring in clients? Focus on that first and then things that you enjoy e.g. I really enjoy writing this blog and so I committed to writing one blog a week. Finally, when you can, outsource what you can. Choose things you don’t like doing or that take up lots of your time or that you don’t have the skills/knowledge/experience for. The first thing I outsourced was my tax return!
You can choose how and when you work
There’s an element of freedom with being self-employed but with that freedom, there can be a tendency to procrastinate! Or perhaps that’s just me?! It can also involve working strange hours and perhaps more in some weeks than others. I personally find this quite frustrating, along with having to work around kids illnesses, preschool and school holidays…but that’s why self-employment works better for me because although I find it frustrating never really having a routine, I can drop things/pick things up as needed.
Tip: Reconcile yourself with the fact that every day is likely to be different and to make peace with it as best you can. I would recommend that you set your boundaries firmly. Work out beforehand the balance that you would like and stick to it as closely as possible. Set a schedule which blocks out time for the important tasks (see above). Commit to the tasks that have to happen and have some tasks that can move/change as needed. I block out term times in advance and let my clients know my working hours as far in advance as possible and haven’t had any problems so far. I personally like the approach of the 12 week year but find a method which works for you.
You have to work really hard
I agree to a certain extent that this is true. It is hard work to run a business, as described above. However, I am a firm believer in working smarter, not harder and that following the myth of having to constantly ‘hustle’ is detrimental to our mental, physical and emotional health. In fact, you do not have to work every hour given to you and work yourself into the ground as some people would suggest.
Tip: I know I keep saying it but take time out regularly for self-care. In addition, reward yourself for your hard work, when you achieve a goal enjoy it.
Are you self-employed? What are your tips for riding the rollercoaster of self-employment?