Phew! You can’t believe you did it!
Congratulations! You’re finally self-employed, you are your own boss.
So…you’ve started that business and you’ve have joined the approximately 582 million entrepreneurs around the globe.
But take it from me, there are some realities of being self-employed which are not what they write about in the business books or talk about in the business segments on television.
It seems you have to learn them by extensive trial and incredible error.
But when you embrace them and make them rules or even commandments for working for yourself, you will be far more successful than you can ever imagine.
So what do I plan to do about it?
With your permission, I am about to shorten your journey by sharing 25 of these realities with you.
They do not make up a complete list but they are the combination of some of my experiences from my own journey and those of my clients.
If you’re ready, here goes…
1. Define your self-employed success…on your terms
However you define success, let me tell you the reality that most self-employed people avoid. Your business will only grow at the rate you grow.
You see success is really an 80/20 rule. It’s 80% psychology and 20% strategy. Mindset is fine but you also need the skills – marketing, negotiating, leadership, public speaking and more.
2. Give up the idea of “trying something” commit to growing your business
Nothing annoys me more than self-employed persons and small business owners who are in business for several years and are still “trying a thing”!
Stop it! This mindset prevents you from ever committing to growing a business. If you’re not sure if being self-employed is for you, get some clarity here.
3. Give your work meaning…the money is never enough
Why are you doing this work? What’s your purpose? Become known for something…develop your brand. If your reasons aren’t big enough your excuses will be.
4. Find your “self-employed” niche
You have heard this before, haven’t you?
When I ask clients “who are your customers?” and they reply “everybody” I can’t go any further until we address this.
A niche is a select group of people who have a need or needs which you are uniquely qualified to meet. You can’t ever be everything to everybody, so find your niche!
5. Learn and learn how to learn
I know you’ve heard and you get it also that you have to be constantly learning new things.
But did you know that you should learn how to learn?
Here are 3 things I want you to think about.
- Your emotional state or energy when you’re learning determines how much you will retain.
- Developing your meta or “leverage” skills will help you identify what you need to learn.
- Learning from your experiences sets you up to be creative in the present.
6. Don’t be preoccupied with the competition
Please note I did not say to ignore them altogether.
Instead, focus on helping your customers or clients and doing it outstandingly well. Isn’t that why you set up your business?
7. Remember…you’re NOT separate from your business
Don’t kill yourself trying to separate you and your business.
As a self-employed person, you will find time and time again you can’t make that separation so easily. A better approach is to manage the connection between you and your business.
8. Forget work/life balance…or at least know what it looks like
What comes to mind when most people hear the term work/life balance?
Does it create this picture of equal balance between your work and your “other” life?
Well here’s the bottom line…
When you work for yourself, your work is your life…or the other way around. The balance comes in making your choices and enjoying them.
9. Get comfortable with money
Get comfortable with asking for it, with earning it and with managing it.
This is an uncomfortable area for most entrepreneurs and you are inclined to do a lot of funny things around money.
Just remember, money is the only objective way to verify your worth. Feel good about earning it, about being in business and remember it gives you leverage.
10. Build your Circle of Experience™
No man is an island is especially true when you’re growing a business or you’ve been in business for a while.
You need to surround yourself with what I call a “Circle of Experience” made up of carefully selected people who can support you, advise you and cuss you out when you need it.
11. You will attract envy – recognize it when it comes
This was hard for me.
I am always so glad and happy for my friends and colleagues, it’s hard to grasp that any one of them would not feel the same for me.
The good thing is there’s always someone in my circle to interpret the subtle putdowns, the ill-informed psycho-analysis, the difficulty in recommending me publicly, the list is endless.
12. Learn the difference between action and activity
Let’s say you want to improve (or attempt!) your marketing and you HATE marketing.
What do you do?
If I imagine it correctly, you research the best marketer, you tidy up your desk, you read up on how to market a business and yourself.
5 months later, nothing has happened to move your marketing forward. Why?
You were engaging in activities which made you feel like you were doing something as opposed focused action which moves you rapidly towards your goal.
13. Have a system for everything…well almost
You will not believe how many self-employed people confuse chaos with creativity.
Are you perpetually late? And you keep forgetting things? You get something right today and not the next time?
This is where self-employed people run into trouble…
You are NOT creative and you’re NOT a free spirit. Your business and your life is in chaos!
Fix this by developing systems – standardised procedures for everything (well almost) which you can rinse and repeat.
You should even have a system for success…
14. Keep meticulous records but use a simple system
Stay with me now…
Record-keeping brings to mind a time-consuming degree of complexity which sends us straight under the bed to hide.
So what’s the solution?
To start, what you have to do is open a folder for everything and put everything in its folder right away.
Now enjoy the speed at which you will retrieve information…especially for your more formal system.
15. Know your business model
No, no…it not your business idea or your mission.
It’s simply clarity on how you plan to make money with your business idea. Having a meaningful business model (or not having one) affects your business success. Get some help with that here.
16. Learn to sell…in person and on paper if you’re self-employed
Of the thousands of entrepreneur and small business persons I have worked with, I have not found many who liked selling.
That used to be me too.
But then I learned how to differentiate myself and pitch my services in person and back it up with an irresistible proposal.
I couldn’t help but notice I was transforming prospects into clients at a faster and more consistent rate. And I was actually having fun doing it.
17. Procrastination will be your enemy…and your friend
Yeah…we procrastinate in our businesses when we have to do something we think we’re not good at, so we meet procrastination – the enemy.
But let the enemy hook you up with procrastination – the friend, who by slowing you down a little, shows you exactly what you need to learn.
18. Form good habits and let them control you
A habit is this thing you do over and over, mostly unconsciously.
The thing about habits though, is that the ones you develop are usually not good for you.
If you could develop a set of good habits and let them control you, do you have any idea what this will do for your life? And your business?
19. Learn Public Speaking…its your biggest source of influence
When I say this, self-employed people think I’m only looking for business.
Listen…I only want your business if you want to give it to me, I’m past trying to sell meat to vegetarians.
But I do know that if you run a business…any business you need public speaking skills. It’s your biggest source of influence.
20. It will get crazy and you will feel like there’s not enough time
It’s happens to me, it will happen to you.
It WILL get crazy and you will feel like there’s not enough time…
When it does, go for a drive, window-shop, sit in a roadside café and watch the world go by. Breathe deeply… You will be renewed and you will find the time and where it was crazy you will now experience calm.
21. Never let age get in your way of being self-employed
Age is a number, it’s not a factor.
If you’re old enough to start a business, you’re old enough.
If you’re past 50, be guided by the wisdom of your years. And if you’re under 30, be buoyed by the enthusiasm of youth. Either way you owe the world that business!
22. Own it when it goes wrong …and be responsible for it
Things will go wrong.
When they do, focus on “righting” them and not on blaming anyone or anything.
When you start blaming senselessly, you will wait for someone to show up to fix it. And when they don’t…it will never be fixed.
23. Learn to negotiate…it’s the single most important thing you need
When I ask self-employed people what’s holding them back, without hesitation they say money.
But I’m here to tell you that with negotiation skills you will be able to negotiate anything for your business, including money.
24. Have a mind that’s open…to everything
“That’s not me!’’ declared by anybody but especially a self-employed person, is to me is a sure sign of a closed mind.
When you close your mind, you often shut out the very thing you need to move you forward. Worst yet, you are often saying “no” to your genius.
25. Implement the upgrades…skills, behaviors, mindset
Your success depends on your capacity to implement the upgrades.
You have to upgrade your skills, you have to change your behaviors and of course your mindset.
But the most important upgrade you could ever implement is to master your emotions. Again and again, I’ve seen out of control business people threaten and even destroy the very business they have built over many years.
Self-employed? Now it’s over to you
So I have lifted the veil just a little on being self-employed.
I have shared 25, only 25 of the realities you have to face if you’re self-employed.
No doubt, you have already experience your own realities that left you pulling out your hair.
You have gone right up to the edge and peeped over on the other side where your business could fail.
But you can’t let that happen.
You now have 25 thing that will be real for you.
Your next move is to take action on any of these which are new to you and on any you were aware of and didn’t act on before. This is how you will guarantee your success and sustain your business.
So which one will you begin working on?