When you’ve been used to clocking in at 9 and out at 5, becoming self-employed is a life-changing experience. Make it as easy for yourself as possible.
There are all sorts of practical considerations when you become your own boss, such as the bank account and the bookkeeping, the suppliers and the customers, but as well as those businesse.co.uk need time to think about the often forgotten but just as important emotional aspects of self-employment.
You’ve decided you’re going to work for yourself, but until your business gets up and running you may find yourself somewhat isolated. As appealing as working from home in your dressing-gown and slippers may sound, it’s very easy to be all-consumed by work. It’s easy to forget that when you’re working for someone else there’s a social side to the workplace – the water-cooler chats, quick drinks after work and bites of lunch with colleagues. You do have to be focused to make your business a success but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so build a network of people in a similar position to you and talk to them occasionally, tweet them every so often, meet up after work.
When it’s your money and your reputation that’s at stake it’s also all too easy to become completely obsessed. As clichéd as it can sound, keeping a balance between your business and your family will be better in the long run for everyone and for the business. Learning to switch off is a must. Don’t allow family and friends to become neglected. It’s also good to remember that social meetings don’t have to be wasteful because anyone and everyone can be a prospective client, customer or a help in some way to your new venture.
On the other hand, you can’t take self-employment for granted. Especially at the start, it can be all too easy to get distracted by the idea of flexible working hours and taking time off when you like. Be disciplined and build yourself a working structure. Make sure that everyone knows when you’re working and that they don’t interrupt. If you’re working from home, have rules about people popping in for a cup of coffee and make sure the children respect your working space as out of bounds during the working day. And don’t be distracted by the fridge or decide to do the ironing when you’ve got a deadline to meet.
Stick to your goals and be determined in what you want to achieve. Remind yourself of those aims and goals by reading through your business plan when you feel less positive or passionate about your venture. This will help to see you through some of the long days and keep a much needed light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the best uses of your time will be time spent working out who would be a suitable person to have as a mentor. This doesn’t have to be a professional person, but someone you trust who helps you think everything through – a sounding-board for your ideas and woes. Your mentor doesn’t have to know much about your business but be someone who will ask questions and help you figure out for yourself the solutions you’re looking for. Call it ‘venting’, ‘unloading’ or ‘casual chatting’, talking to a mentor will help you feel secure about your ideas and decisions and let you unpack and offload the barrage of information swirling round in your head.
It can be really hard to go without when you’re trying to put every available penny into the business. You can’t afford to take a lot of money out of a business at the start and probably for the first few years. Everyone around you has to realise that too and back you. No new houses or cars until the business is on a stable financial footing. Allow yourself a little treat every now and then or you could lose the will to keep going, but dream of the luxuries further down the line when your business is a success.