Your first few weeks of self-employment
Your resignation was accepted, or maybe a redundancy package was agreed. Your admiring, or perhaps dubious, colleagues have bid you 'goodbye'. Your job is no longer yours. You are free!
So, what now?
Even if you hadn't been working so hard, the final days of your employment were probably emotionally stressful, and you perhaps feel in need of some time-out. You deserve a holiday.
This could be a wise move, as the first responsibility of anyone self-employed is to manage their health and energy, taking care of mind, body, and spirit. You are, quite literally, your business' biggest asset.
If you can, get away to recharge for a while. However, make sure your holiday period has an end date. Then, moving forward, schedule regular days-off and holidays. Block these days out in your diary, and protect them. Whilst I truly hope you will look forward to each day that you are engaged with your passions in work that has meaning for you, taking breaks and time out is still important for your well-being and sense of perspective.
The danger of taking a long break, or having a fuzzy end date, is that your holiday routine becomes your new habit and the plans you have for working on your business take a back seat. You might give yourself all kinds of reasons for not getting started, but the true reason will be fear - fear of failure, fear of success, fear of what others might think, fear you won't be good enough (insert the fear that most comes up for you here!).
One way of handling that fear is to take action anyway. Getting into your new way of working gives fear less space to fester.
In addition to the effects on your motivation, the preparation and research you have invested in has a shelf-life. If you have been talking to potential clients, they most probably need your help now. There may be costings you've worked on, or ideas that relate to a current trend.
Many assume freedom from their 9-5 will feel great, and they don’t expect the wave of emotion they experience once they leave their employment. It is normal to feel a loss of identity, sadness, confusion, and anger in a similar way to bereavement. These are not signs that you have made the wrong move, or that you have the wrong idea - they are simply indicating the adjustment you are making.
Some also experience a new intensity of their fears regarding income and risk. If you have taken an extended holiday, you may then feel a sense of panic about making up for lost time. Having done your preparation, it is more important that you work according to the plans you have made. Give yourself permission to invest in your business rather than rushing into hasty short-term decisions.
Whatever you are feeling, you can still move forward. Perhaps talk to a friend, or journal and/or channel your feelings into some creative project, but do not let them takeover or delay the action you are taking to establish your new business.
In these early days, while you are discovering ways you like working and are perhaps a little less busy than you will be in a few weeks/months, you have the opportunity to establish good working habits, and set up and streamline your work processes. Consider the easiest and smoothest way to complete regular tasks. Make checklists and schedules for activities you will do regularly, and perfect your diary system.
Balance this with making as many connections as you can, networking on and off line. Build up your extended team of potential buyers, referrers, collaborators, suppliers, and those who will provide services to you. Every business is a people business, and self-employment does not mean you are working alone.
Invest in these actions for the first few weeks and you’ll be laying foundations that will allow you to build the self-employed life you truly desire.
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