How To Be Successfully Self-Employed

Working for yourself is full of surprises and delights.   Well, I had better be truthful from the get-go, not all the surprises are delightful, but you probably guessed that?   And one woman’s suprise is another’s nasty shock e.g. VAT and accounts, filing and all the other associated business admin chores.

But let’s start with the delights.  

  • No commuting
  • No boss
  • Choose your own hours
  • Work in your pyjamas
  • Only work with people you like
  • Add your own here

Some of those can become a double-edged sword.   No commuting saves time, money and inconvenience but my experience is that homeworkers actually work longer hours than their commuting counterparts, are poor at dividing work from home chores, are at the beck and call of neighbours and friends who don’t think of you as really working at all and soon your work and private lives are inextricably linked with no clear boundaries.

No boss except yourself and many self-employed workers would say the boss is the idiot you see when you look in the mirror!   Remember all those faults so easy to see when you worked for someone else?   They aren’t always so easy to spot when you become the boss but believe me we all have faults and those will translate into your business failures and successes.   Whatever you are good at, so will the business be.   Whatever you are bad a,t so will the business be.   Can you see the problem already?

Choose your own hours – see above, takes boundaries of STEEL!

Working in your pyjamas means you can’t turn on the webcam and are quite frightening to the postman.   No seriously, lots of homeworkers introduce such tiny rituals as getting up as normal, going out the front door, walking round the block and letting themselves back in again and then going to work in the spare room.   Otherwise you can slope to your laptop at 5 a.m. in your nightie and still be there at suppertime, unwashed, if you are not careful.

If you never go anywhere and never see anyone and have a relationship only with your laptop, you can become isolated and ultimately feral!

Only work with people you like – ah, a good one at last.   This is also easier said than done.  Yes, it is your choice who you pick as business partners and clients but business partners should always have different profiles and strengths to your own which will make them a challenge to say the least.   And clients are clients and will be as difficult and demanding and oblivious to your boundaries and sensitivities as you allow them to be.

What are the advantages you enjoy about self-employment?   And how do you overcome the pitfalls?

For most of us I think we miss the social interaction that work provided.   Yes you grumbled about your colleagues but at least they noticed if you got out of bed today.   Most people go to work for the social reasons as much as the pay.   So you need to replace this in other ways.   If you can bear it, join a local networking group or get out of the house frequently to meet friends and colleagues for a cup of coffee.

You can do this virtually too, get the support you need via Skype where you can set up a whole contact list of virtual colleagues and mentors to get a quick idea or answer to a conundrum, someone will always have been there before you.   Live chat is a useful facility as is some sort of forum where you can mix and match with others working at home and share your learning.   You can still enjoy a virtual watercooler moment, it doesnt sound like much but it really makes a difference.

Hang out with your peers, go to events put on specifically for small business people and get the vital support you need to be successful.

What’s your biggest good reason for becoming self-employed and what are you finding most challenging?   Leave a comment below and I will address your concerns in future blog posts.  


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2 Responses to “How To Be Successfully Self-Employed”

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  1. Allison says:

    A great insight in to being self employed.

    Allison
    http://www.macintoshwright.com
    Business Coaching Specialists

  2. My biggest reason – definitely the kids – being able to choose (most of the time) the times I spend working and the times I spend with my kids. Yes the two do often overlap, sometimes with great success and others disaster. The pitfall of course is as you say, with working hours and boundaries. I’ve found boundaries of steel don’t necessarily work with kids – or certainly with me and my kids – so I’m still working on creating boundaries that strong and adaptable. No easy thing for sure but there you go!

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