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If you’ve dreamed of getting out of your nine-to-five, self-employment can seem like the perfect solution. Not only does it give you the freedom to work when and how you want, but it also means you only have yourself to answer to, which is why I love it so much.
Sure, it also means that you shoulder full responsibility for when something goes wrong. But while self-employment might not be for everyone, there are many benefits to working for yourself. If you are serious about going it alone, there are a few ways to make your journey a little bit easier.
Choose Your Path
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and work for yourself: good for you! The next step is to work out what it is that you will do. In many ways, this is the fun part because you’re not limited to your previous experiences like you would be in a normal career path. Of course, staying in your current field is also an option — especially if you love it and have tons of experience. But it’s critical to remember that it’s never too late to change a career. Many people go through different careers until they finally have an epiphany and discover their real calling. Actor Steve Buscemi, for example, was a firefighter before he starred in blockbusting films while rapper Kanye West used to work as a sales assistant at Gap. PSPC Champion Ramón Colillas thought himself destined for a career in engineering, but he ended up playing sports before an injury prevented him from going professional. He became a personal trainer instead but found that his heart wasn’t in it, and that’s when he took up playing poker on the side. He studied the game for several years before bagging a prize of $5.1 million. So, it only goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how big they are.
Manage Your Money
When you get paid as an employee, your employer undertakes all the hard work of deducting tax and national insurance contributions. So, when it comes to switching over to self-employment, it’s crucial to get ahead of the game and get your finances organized sooner rather than later. Look around and find yourself a decent accountant to help you with tax returns. And though they might seem pricey at first, they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to tax allowances.
Invoicing is another issue that you’ll need to get to grips with or otherwise, you won’t get paid! I’m the first to admit that when it comes to invoicing, I am well and truly stuck. To get around this, I rely on my small business accounting software to keep me up to date with receipts and outstanding payments.
It can be super hard to switch off from work when your laptop is sat on the other side of the room as you try to unwind. Working from home can feel as though you need to be “on” all the time, but this isn’t the case! Keeping yourself available 24/7 is a sure-fire way of running yourself into the ground, fast. Here are a few techniques that I’ve learned for managing the client’s expectations and setting boundaries when it comes to working from home.
- Create Your Office Hours – Many people prefer to stick to the regular nine-to-five pattern to keep things simple, but others need to work late at night or early in the morning. Create your work timetable and stick to it.
- Get a Work Phone – Having two mobile phones might seem like a chore, to begin with, but when your clients ring or text you at 10 p.m., you won’t feel obliged to respond straight away if they use a work number.
- Let Clients Know Your Schedule – If you only work until 6 p.m., let them know that you will respond to any calls or emails after this time the following day.
Finally, remember to be yourself. The whole point of working for yourself is that it allows you to work to the beat of your drum. You aren’t going to be to everyone’s taste, either, but that’s okay. You don’t have to please everyone! By being yourself, though, you will attract clients who want to work with the real you. Good luck!