Life coach and journalist Julie Brown shares her tips for ‘nailing’ the world of a self-run business….successfully!
A quick trawl around YouTube and Facebook highlights just how many people are making a living from doing something they love these days.
Many of these entrepreneurs are fulfilling some pretty quirky niches.
Others are branching out into selling crafts, freelance writing and property development etc. Do you ever find yourself asking whether you could go it alone? Ah, the wanderlust.
Most people, at some point in their lives dream about being self-employed. No-more Sunday night blues, long commutes to the office and difficult colleagues. And why not be the master of your future? A flexible working week sounds idyllic.
Did you know there are currently 4.8 million people working for themselves in the UK? A number that’s growing all the time. And research by Sheffield and Exeter universities revealed the self-employed had higher levels of job satisfaction. It looks like they could be wealthier too, with a different study finding that self-employed workers earn an average of £33,000 a year, which is £5,000 more than the UK average. Nice.
But being your own boss can be tricky. No monthly pay cheque, paid holidays or sick leave. You can suffer knockbacks, self-esteem issues, feel isolated and have regular panics about where your next mortgage payment is coming from or if you can afford those new school shoes. Not everyone who goes it alone will be successful but there are things you can do to give it your best shot.
Writing and life coach for entrepreneurs Julie Brown shares her tips for making a success of going it alone.
1 Don’t give up the day job in a hurry
Once you’ve made the decision to go it alone, excitement can rapidly kick in and it can be all too tempting to get the bit between your teeth and tell your boss you’re off. But this isn’t the best approach, unless you’re got funding lined up of course. Instead do as much as you can on your potential business before you hand your notice in. It could take six months or more, so patience is key. There’s lots to do – build your website on your days off, get your social media accounts in shape, have your business cards printed and a few clients lined up. If you don’t put these fundamentals in place, you’ll be under lots of pressure to make thing happen from the off. Being in a constant panic isn’t a great start to building a successful business.
2 Find your routine
For some people, working from home is a great excuse to not bother shedding the pyjamas before heading to the computer. One of many benefits you may think. But dressing smartly, even if you’re not going to see anyone that day is key to developing the mindset you need to be a professional business owner. And what if you got caught out on Skype! Oh, the shame. Find a place in the house to work from where you won’t be disturbed – you need a designated workspace to put you in the mood for work. Sitting on your bed with your laptop just won’t cut it.
3 Money talk
Here’s the truth – you may not be making big bucks from the off. This is particularly true if you have an initial outlay to fund, such as stock or rent on premises. You may need to rein in your spending, eat less decadently and put aside trips to the cinema for a while. If it’s possible, use the last six months of paid employment to save up as much as you can, and then use this to pay yourself just the amount you need to live on every month. So, bills, food and emergencies (which doesn’t include chocolate). You will miss the little luxuries of course, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Too many businesses fail early on due to lack of planning on the money front.
4 Be your own marketeer
This is vital – no one is going to be battering down your door to work with you of they don’t know you exist. Zone into a business mindset and get yourself out of there – being coy won’t pay the bills. There are so many ways to connect with people now, online and in person, with more and more networking and Facebook groups springing up all the time. Get yourself involved – you won’t regret it.
5 Social media rocks
We would all be very grateful if our business could run itself while we sunned our backsides by the pool at our very own villa – and eventually this might be the case. But initially you have to hustle, and social media is a great tool for this. Work out where your ideal candidates hang out and talk to them there. Is it Facebook or Instagram? Or Twitter? Where ever they are, you need to be too.
6 Be consistent and visible
This is a biggy. If you don’t show up day in, day out you’ll never get the know, like, trust factor going, which is what will bring you the clients you need to earn the money. Before buying from you, potential customers will want to see you are the person they should engage with before all others, and only by being consistent in your approach and visible will this happen.
7 Maintain a healthy work-life balance
The thing about being self-employed is that it can be really hard work, and some people find their working hours spiralling out of control as success takes a grip. The best way to deal with this initially is to treat the day as if it’s a day in the office – even if you are just in the spare bedroom. Plan breaks, stop for lunch and start and finish at ‘normal’ office hours. And build some bliss points into your day to recharge your batteries and focus the mind. A short walk, that shortbread biscuit you’re craving, a call to your mum. Whatever works for you. Plan these before you start to work – write them down in your diary or set an alarm. Anything to make sure you take them.