I’ve been self-employed for 13 years.
When I share that with people who don’t really know me or what I do, they tend to say things like:
“Oh, that sounds relaxing.”
“Oh, how nice! You can be home for your kids.”
“You must love not having a boss.”
Well, if you are thinking of starting your own business for any of those reasons, here are 7 things you need to know about working for yourself:
- Just because you don’t “have a boss” doesn’t mean you don’t have a boss!
I may work for myself, but I still have a boss – my clients.
Without my clients, I wouldn’t have a business. In fact, I now have more than one boss, which can be even more difficult to manage.
Your boss(es) may not give you official performance reviews or make you punch a time clock, or ask you for your holiday schedule a year in advance – but all those things are still important.
Your performance review is now monthly – every month they may continue hiring you, or not. Voting with their feet can be a harder pill to swallow than the pep talk your corporate supervisor gave you.
Your clients may expect you to keep the same hours they do and not appreciate that you didn’t let them know you had a doctor’s appointment or your daughter was home sick from school that day.
They can’t see you, so they actually may be more suspicious of how you’re spending your time.
And in terms of holidays – don’t surprise your clients and disappear for a month-long trip to Europe.
It’s best to plan your holidays around your client’s big deadlines and events as much as possible – this will show you are a true partner in their work and are interested in their success.
- You may be busier than ever.
When I started working for myself I was blissfully unaware of how much “other” work I would have to do. For example, I now:
- empty my own wastepaper baskets,
- create and implement my own social media campaigns,
- pay for my own professional development,
- write my own paycheques,
- interview and hire my own subcontractors,
- get my own clients, and
- deliver services to my clients.
You may begin to wonder when you’ll have time to get any work done!
It can become a serious concern when you realize you’re now not getting enough sleep and seeing your family less than when you had a “real” job.
So be really clear about how you spend your time. Go into starting a business with your eyes wide open.
- You still need childcare
Anyone who tells you they can get everything done during naptime isn’t very busy.
As one, now very successful, entrepreneur told me – she knew she needed childcare when she realized she would spend her client calls talking on the phone and throwing candy down the hall so her child would run after it and not interrupt her when she was on the phone.
Children will quickly grow wary of “Mommy always being busy.” And the amount of time you spend sending them away vs. spending time with them.
Do yourself a favour and set up childcare at the outset. You can decide how much you need, but you will still need it.
- Set your working hours – otherwise, you won’t have any
Why is it that just because we work from home we think we have limitless hours in the day?
It’s not true. If anything there can be more distractions – the laundry is calling, the breakfast dishes are still piled in the sink. If you were at an outside office there’d be nothing you could do about those niggling household tasks.
At home – different story. Not to say there aren’t distractions at work, they are just different at home. That, and having neighbours think you’re there, or your mother drops by because you’re “working from home.”
Guess what? If I’m visiting with you I’m not working anymore am I? Be clear that you’re working and set visiting hours when it suits you and your work deadlines.
- Know your boundaries
Boundary-setting can go both ways – you may need to set them with others, but you also need to set them with yourself.
You could work 24/7 if you let yourself.
But you may have chosen to work from home and work for yourself so you could have more time with your family. Spend it with them! Don’t give it all away back to your work that is always calling in your home workspace.
- If you don’t take yourself seriously, other people won’t either
The concept of working for yourself is something that can take a bit of a mind shift for most people.
When will you start taking yourself seriously? When you get your first paycheque? When you are working 40 hours a week? When you have been working x number of years?
If people ask what you do and you respond: “oh I (insert giggle here) just started working for myself. I’m trying to get clients…” then it’s not likely you’ll get them very quickly.
Be confident. Be bold. Be strong. If you believe in yourself, others will too.
- If you get paid, you’re a professional
No matter how much you get paid, if you are getting paid, then you are a professional – photographer, caterer, coach, consultant – whatever it is you do, if you get paid for it you are a professional.
So many people don’t consider themselves a professional if they don’t work for a big name firm. It’s your firm. You get paid. You’re a professional. Now go get some more business!
I have so many lessons that I’ve learned in the trenches of working for myself. Some of them were difficult, some not quite so hard, but they all have led me to a career and a life that I am immensely proud of.
Working for yourself can be extremely rewarding. And what’s more, I can show you how! If you are thinking of taking that step and starting a business, register for a complimentary, no obligation, Strategy Breakthrough Session.
I can help you get really clear about what you want so that you can have the success you seek, all while living a balanced lifestyle.
Are you already working for yourself? What do you wish you were told before you started out? I’d love to hear your tips. Please post your advice below. I’m sure we’d all benefit.