Being self-employed is often seen to be the “dream” by many. You get to structure your day around what you want to do. You can work all day in your PJs if you choose to and your longest commute is possibly between your desk and the kitchen. However, as many discover along the way, freelancing or being self-employed isn’t that easy. It requires self-discipline, consistency, grit and often sacrifices that won’t be acknowledged. While freelancing may not be for everyone, if it’s the right fit for you, then it could be a fantastic road to go down…
Why be Self-Employed?
- Your earning potential is higher than those traditionally employed
- Your work day can have a wider variety of tasks to tackle, with a generally more diverse work load
- You can set your work schedule to when you’re most productive and structure your day to foster a better life-work balance
Reasons to Rethink Self-Employment
Being self-employed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you battle with rejection then maintaining the high level of self-motivation and belief in what you’re doing will be challenging. While your earning potential is higher, an inconsistent and yo-yo income is an immediate reality. Therefore, when thinking about working for yourself, a full understanding of your financial obligations and needs is very important. Many people are invigorated by having colleagues and people to acknowledge as well as celebrate successes with; if this is you, then working for yourself at home where potential distractions are endless and accomplishments are met with silence could be a miserable endeavour.
Succeeding in being Self-Employed
You’ve decided that you have what it takes to branch out on your own. You know the general direction you want to head in, have an idea of how to leverage your own kind of smarts and have crunched the numbers to see that you can get there. Here are some steps that could help you fostering success in your business and better enjoy the freelancing adventure unfolding before you.
4 Traits to Consistently Nurture
- Flexibility: Having your own business is likely going to mean being a bit of a jack-of-all trades. You need to be prepared to do whatever is needed, cleaning through to presentations, when it’s needed to make things work. This could be for a few months or even years.
- Grit: Having continuous passion, patience, sustained perseverance and self-motivation while focusing on the bigger picture, is vital to succeeding in running your own business. Especially, when things get a little difficult and no one is cheering you along
- Positive Attitude: Your approach will determine if people want to work with you and ultimately how successful you are. It’s not to say you won’t have days of doubt, but more consistently, you need to believe in yourself and see the lighter side to things when they don’t go your way
- Forward thinking: While the first step to having your own business is a business plan, once you are operational you need to continually review then update your strategy to remain relevant and in line with your market and clients’ needs as well as ahead of your competition.
- Being Meticulous: Paying careful attention to detail is especially important when it comes to timeframes, record keeping, financial health as well as annual business requirements such as tax and certifications
7 Habits of Effectiveness and Efficiency
- Have office hours: As tempting as it is to be spontaneous and very flexible, it’s also the quickest way to get distracted and loose momentum. Your hours can work around your life to some extent, but it’s best to have a regular routine that guarantees you’ve set aside enough work hours.
- Be both your boss and employee: Effectively, you need to fulfil both these roles so ask yourself: What would you expect from someone you employed? What would a boss expect of you as an employee?
- Have a schedule: To increase your productivity within your work hours, schedule when you plan to do routine tasks like check and answer emails or activities such as upskilling yourself.
- To-do list: Keep a running list of what needs to be done and by when. For better planning, add in any subtasks with time estimations.
- Keep a Calendar: Any appointments and deadlines should be added to a calendar so that you literally have a bird’s eye view of your week and month ahead.
- Dedicated work space: Where the space is, needs to practically work for you. It could be an area in your home, a shared office space or a rented unit.
- Kit it out: Don’t skimp on what you need. Make a list of what will support your productivity and either get it immediately or make it something you save towards getting as soon as possible. For example, if you’re desk based, invest in a comfortable chair, consider a second screen and make sure your computer’s performance matches the tasks you expect to be undertaking.
Three Challenges to be On-Top of
- Vanishing Social Life: Having your own business means it’s with you 24/7 and holidays aren’t usually paid. It’s normal to end up working longer hours when you’re self-employed. However, this means that you need to be more intentional in making regular time to see friends and do things that aren’t work related.
- Missing Boundaries: When it’s all your responsibility the urge to just finish something off or check up on something is a real and constant companion. Ironically this is when boundaries are of paramount importance. Without them, you won’t have down time. Which means in the longer run your efficiency will decrease resulting in the need to put in more hours to get run-of-the-mill things completed. Thus, a never-ending work cycle is born.
- Shrinking Opportunities: Everyday tasks and deadlines can be all consuming. However, this means that time spent creating and chasing leads for future business opportunities, or improving skills needed to be more competitive, is left until an unscheduled future date. There needs to be a healthy balance between producing excellent work and generating new opportunities. One recommendation is to schedule up to one day a week to generate potential work opportunities, network and upskill.
SACAP offers a range of courses that can pave the way for a career in psychology, while developing skills that will prove valuable in a variety of other career paths. For more information, enquire now.