Part Fourteen: Self-Employment (Part 1)

This is the fourteenth part of a series of mini guides which aims to help you find a career you love. They include tips from me but also practical advice from some of the hundreds of individuals who I have coached over the last 10 years, the sort of things they may have shared with friends or family going through a career move.

If you have not worked for yourself before it can be a daunting proposition. It is important to evaluate your reasons for wanting to be self-employed and understand the advantages and also the disadvantages. The advantages include being in control of what you do and not be involved with office politics. You also have more control over when you work, so if you are looking for a better work-life balance then it may be an option.

“Setting up my own business was the best solution for me. I am not afraid of hard work and have great experience under my belt. To have ultimate accountability and know that everything you do is for you and down to you is very empowering and motivating. There are no office politics or layers of bureaucracy to stand in my way, which is so refreshing!”

“I really did reach a crossroads. One direction was another corporate move, the other was a self-employed direction. Realising that the perceived safety of a regular salary and corporate fringe benefits does not provide a safe path anyway, helped me take the other path more confidently.”

“I'm actually loving the freedom of freelancing, and the money is really good if you prioritise what you do.  I chose to take on less work than I originally intended and the freedom of choice and the work/life balance is unbelievably good.”

However, it can become all-consuming, particularly if you need to get a revenue stream quickly. Another downside is that it can be an isolating experience as you do not have the support of colleagues or a boss to bounce ideas off. If you are going down the self-employed route it can be helpful to build an external support system.

“Not everyone is cut out for the interim or consultant life – you have to be really sell- motivated and always using your time in a productive way.”

“Be careful of trying to turn a hobby into a business.  You can become very absorbed in the planning, the idea, the concept and the plan - the reality of doing something you love as a job may mean you lose the joy of it and value to you may not transfer to value to others.”

“It can become lonely at times the new world, but you CAN get through it. Find and make new acquittances. The support of family and friends will always be key, but you have an amazing opportunity to use that vast experience and creativity inside you. There will be no time like the present to go and enjoy this new lease of life.  Keeping going forward. Amaze yourself.”

“I took the step into the unknown and decided I couldn’t get what I needed by getting another corporate role and set up a consultancy/freelancing business focussed on doing the kind of work I enjoyed and affording me a different lifestyle. 3yrs on and my 1 piece of advice is to remain true to your values and don’t compromise on the important ones. Don’t be afraid to turn down opportunities that don’t align with what is important for you. Don’t chase the money! If your life is balanced, then the money will chase you…”

“Don't take everything you are offered. At the creation of my company I was too eager to take jobs- and ended up taking on jobs which I did not enjoy and later got out of as soon as I could.”

“The worst part of it looking back over the last 5 years was probably taking on too much work when I first went out on my own.  I was working seven days a week which was very lucrative but not really good for quality of life. I think a lot of people going out on their own probably do this but I think balance comes with experience.”

“Get a mentor or coach…someone who is not in your area of expertise and who has proven track record and likes inspiring people to be the best.”

“Upskill every year – new qualification – e.g. PRINCE etc. Invest in yourself and your clients(new and old) will appreciate that.”

“My working style is as an extravert and hence to have started up my own company in an environment of work where I wouldn’t, initially, have a team of people with me was daunting.  To satisfy my extravert work style I sought out people who were going through the same experiences and who were willing to share.”

This series of mini guides will give you some practical tips and hints from people that have been through it and found what they are looking for. The next one is about marketing yourself as a self-employed business.

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