The Double-Edged Sword of Self-Employment
When you’re setting up your own business, the great advantages can also be the potential pitfalls. Taking the right attitude can mean the difference between success and failure
Ah, just imagine it! No boss, freedom to do things your way, every penny of profit is all yours, the chance to make your mark on the world (or at least your industry).
Take it from someone who knows, it ain’t all easy! It can be very scary when you suddenly haven’t got a regular salary (and have been accustomed to a certain lifestyle). It’s both liberating and terrifying to do it all yourself (admin, marketing, sales, accounts, office space), and even if you outsource, how do you know you’ve picked the right people?
It’s not enough to be the best coach, therapist, chiropractor, graphic designer, legal consultant etc. You have to have a lot of gumption too, a thick skin and a hell of a lot of passion. The following challenges, and how you address them, can mean the difference between success and failure.
When you’re safely employed, freedom to do things your way can be very tempting. You can work when it suits you, how it suits you, wearing what suits you (there are days I refuse to wear anything but pyjamas, just because I can). But what about when all the freedom becomes scary because there’s no structure to your days? Or when motivation wanes and it’s just you making yourself keep going? Suddenly the discipline of an office and the comfort of knowing what’s expected of you and when can be appealing.
Don’t give up just yet though! Freedom can work for you. It’s all about knowing yourself – knowing what motivates you (and what demotivates you), being honest about when and where you work best, knowing what you need to do to reach your goals, as well as having a solid support network of friends, family and like-minded colleagues in place for when things get tough.
One of the huge advantages of being employed is job security, right? Not these days! Instead of a job for life, the workforce these days is more likely to experience mass redundancies, contract or temporary employment and at least 4 career changes. So the security of a salary isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. . Furthermore, if you stay employed you can be a victim of your own false sense of security. Circumstances out of your control such as redundancy can be a huge opportunity – taking away your safety net and forcing you to try something new.
But if you’re self-employed, you can open yourself up to potential greater risks – with no salary at the end of the month, making the sale can literally mean the difference between eating the next month or not. And eek – what if you try and fail?
However there are ways of taking calculated risks. Make intelligent decisions, set powerful business goals, do things for the right reasons. Understand the difference between operating in your panic zone and stretch zone (you should be in the latter to work effectively!)
Furthermore, what about the security you’re creating? There is a persuasive argument that because it’s yours, all yours, you’ll work dedicatedly and passionately – far more than if the profit is going to line someone else’s pockets. And as you get better and better at what you do, and establish a solid reputation, you’ll create far greater security than if you were a faceless employee.
Hands up who likes being told what to do? Whether you’ve got a great boss or a tyrant, nothing beats being master of your own destiny. When you run your own business you control the business model, the product offering, the client base, every single little decision…
This is great when things are going swimmingly, however if you’re experiencing a dip it can be petrifying. It’s your fault if the business isn’t profitable, it’s under your control which clients you go after or which direction you go in.
There are 2 points to make here; the first is that there’s no shame in asking for help. Get a business mentor, ask friends and family for help, accept that you can’t do everything yourself. Secondly however, have a bit of faith in yourself and trust your decisions. Accept you have limitations. Influence where you can and learn to let go of the things you have no control over.
There will always be challenges when you’re self-employed (just as when you have a job), however the attitude you take to them and the strategies you have to address them will largely determine your success.