How to be your own boss
“I should be self-employed.”
This thought creeps up on everyone with a steady job now and then. You crave something besides the 9-to-5, something that doesn’t involve answering to a higher-up or checking in each time you want to stray from a predetermined process or operational goal. What would it be like to be your own boss? It’s got to be better than what you’re currently doing, right?
Yes and no. Self-employment can be a wonderful step to fulfilling your dreams, but it’s also not as simple as just setting out and deciding to change the world through your particular product or service. We’ve put together some strategies to keep in mind while you figure out how to be your own boss.
Your business is not about you – it’s about your clients
Take pride in your product or service, but don’t fall in love with it – because the more you love it, the less willing you will be to make changes. Your clients are ultimately the ones you are answering to, and it’s them that you need to keep happy. If they want changes in what you produce, you need to listen to them and implement these changes.
Being your own boss means you are on the hook for producing the work and keeping up with changes in your field. Are your nearest competitors doing something different and offering greater value to your clients? You better adjust your practices, or even your most loyal clients will leave you for someone else.
Keep calm and carry on
Being your own boss means that you get to pick your clients and what you work on, but it comes at the cost of a regular paycheck. Depending on what you arrange with your clients, you may not be receiving money every two weeks; it might be every month, or at the successful end of every project. There may be times when you’re flooded with work and flush with cash; conversely, there will be times when the gigs and the money dry up and you’re casting as wide a net as you can. You’ll have potential clients tear apart your work or decline to work with you at all. There may be days when you long for the security of the day job.
You’ll need strength to make it through these challenges. Getting upset or anxious when these situations comes up will only damage your ability to do your work. Instead of focusing on how concerned you are about this client or that, focus on getting your current assignment done to the best of your ability.
It takes a calm, clear mindset to succeed at self-employment.
Much like diversifying your portfolio, diversifying your freelance projects prevents you from being dependent on any one client. Resist the urge to get too dependent on one client, no matter how consistent the work; if you devote the bulk of your time and energy to them, what will happen if they abruptly fall on hard times or stop utilizing you? Depending on your schedule, you should set aside a few hours at least every other week and devote that time to chasing down new leads. That way, one client’s disaster won’t necessarily mean disaster for you – and as an added bonus, you’ll likely diversify your skill set, too.
Invest, invest, invest
Tony Robbins has said investing is the most important financial advice he can provide to the self-employed. “Take advantage of the power of compounding,” he suggests, and let one small investment grow into a money machine over time. This money continues to accrue on the side, no matter what you’re doing; it can be your Dream Bucket money, your retirement and your emergency fund all at once.
Keep your portfolio updated
Want to be your own boss? That means you’re your own sales person, too. You need a record of what you provide, whether you’re a landscaper, a plumber or a freelance writer, and you need to be able to get this information to potential clients quickly. A simple, easy to navigate website will suffice, with specific specialty areas broken out. How often you update your website or portfolio depends on how busy you are and how much client turnover you have, but aim to look it over at least once every three months.
In the end, the only person responsible for your happiness and well-being is you. If the 9-to-5 leaves you longing for more out of life, then taking the leap into self-employment and learning how to be your own boss may be the most rewarding decision you ever make.